Monday, August 15, 2011

Why We are Going to the Tar Sands Action

One of the organizers asked for a statement about why we were going to the Tar Sands Action for their blog. Here is the statement we sent him:

Joan Kresich, Margot Kidder, Margarita McLarty, and Linda Kenoyer

Joan is a poet and educator, Margot is an actor, Margarita is a retired outfitter/naturalist and youth minister and Linda is a former physicist and engineer. All are activists who live in Livingston, MT and represent a non-profit organization called Montana Women For... which provides the community with educational events, political protests, and town hall meetings with legislators.

We are four women who have lived a long time. For many years we have worked for social justice and environmental responsibility. We have taken part in numerous movements that battle the forces of greed that would destroy our world with no thought for the future. We are from an organization called Montana Women For... Together we have acted for positive change, for peace with justice and equality, and for a healthy ecosystem. When we heard about the plan for the Tar Sands Action, we all decided it was time to intensify our commitment. It is time to put ourselves on the line.

We live in Montana, the first place the Keystone XL Pipeline will cross into the United States. We live on the beautiful Yellowstone River. During the spring floods this June, 42,000 gallons of conventional crude oil was dumped into the Yellowstone from a much smaller pipeline than the proposed Keystone. The river and the farmlands and wilderness areas that border the river will not recover for many, many years, probably not in our lifetimes. We are acutely aware of the increased danger posed by the high temperature, high pressure, corrosive tar sands oil flowing through pipes three times the size of the one that ruptured so destructively into the Yellowstone this spring. We see the map of the proposed route crossing the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers and the wilderness, farmland, rangeland and wild prairies of our state. We are appalled at the risk the oil companies are willing to have us live with here in our backyard.

We have spoken up against the widening of US Hwy 12 along the wild and scenic Lochsa River, over historic Lolo Pass, through the center of Missoula, and along the Rocky Mountain Front to Canada for the purpose of transporting gigantic pieces of machinery and parts for pipelines and mining operations in the Alberta Tar Sands. We see the threat to our magnificent state from development of the Tar Sands as immediate and potentially devastating.
But more importantly, here in Montana we feel the effects of the unstable climate caused by the excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Pine bark beetle infestations are destroying our forests. Glaciers and snowfields are disappearing. Our winters are generally shorter and our snowpacks are generally smaller. Entire species are dying, threatening the web of wildlife and fisheries that support our economies and nourish our souls. Droughts and wildfires are more intense. The increasing severity of El Nino and La Nina events create havoc as we swing wildly between drought years and flood years. This is all happening here, in Montana, in our backyard.
The diminishing of conventional oil reserves and the end of cheap oil seem like welcome catalysts to shift our technology and our infrastructure to something more sustainable; to move away from fossil fuels and toward other sources of energy for transportation and industry. At this moment in time we have a choice: put our wealth into the development of new sustainable energy sources or sink fortunes into developing the devastating, difficult, dangerous tar sands oil that will keep our dependence on oil going a little longer while dumping obscene amounts of carbon into our atmosphere. The future of Montana is at stake. The future of the world is at stake. We can move away from coal and oil and bring the carbon concentration down, or we can develop more of both and push our climate over the tipping point.

We are women whose grandchildren are growing up with a wild, beautiful Montana that may not be there for their children and grandchildren. This is personal for us. The four of us are only the few from our organization who can make the journey. Standing behind us are many, many others who have chipped in to help pay for our trip, have written us and called us and stopped us on the street to offer words of appreciation and support for what we are doing. Montana will be represented at the Tar Sands Action at the White House by four grandmothers who speak for generations of Montanans who say “No” to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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