no tar sands

ecowatch.com
17 House Democrats Introduce 'Keep It In the Ground Act' to Prohibit New Fossil Fuel Extraction on Public Lands
Congressman Jared Huffman introduced today the Keep it in the Ground Act. If passed, the bill would bar new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands

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Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and 16 other members of Congress introduced today the Keep it in the Ground Act. If passed, the bill would reduce carbon emissions by permanently barring new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands and in federal waters.

Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands on all federal lands.
  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico.
  • Prohibit offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic.

The 17 House co-sponsors of the Keep It In The Ground Act include: Jared Huffman (CA-2), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Mike Honda (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Bill Keating (MA-09), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Donna Edwards (MD-04), Alan Grayson (FL-09), Jim McDermott (WA-07), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Chris Van Hollen (MD-08), Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03).

This new legislation adds momentum to the Senate Bill introduced in November by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

What the hell? What is wrong with the American public that they are complacent in this?. This is a foreign corporation that’s going to make billions off our backs. We won’t allow them to go — we will lay our bodies on the line with the Native Americans.

We need water, we need food. We don’t need tar sands.

—  Donna Roller, 62, who owns a farm in York County, Neb (via Al Jazeera America)
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“As a woman, I’m a waterkeeper…Being stewards of the earth, moving beyond fossil fuels, is [about more than] sustainability for us. It’s a cultural requirement.” ‪#‎LoveWaterNotOil‬ ‪#‎NoKXL‬ ‪#‎ProtectAndReject‬ ‪#‎OcetiRising‬

Correction: Due to a transcription error, an earlier version of this article misquoted Tara Houska as saying, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leading the meeting!” She said, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leaving the meeting,” referring to a consultation between tribes and federal authorities in Rapid City, SD, during which Sioux representatives walked out.

You can follow Jake on Twitter @jakeflanagin. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

On Feb. 24, president Obama vetoed a congressional bill that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Although the debate surrounding the project was widely seen as a conflict between environmentalists and industrialists, the case also raised important questions about one of America’s oldest bad habits: trampling on indigenous rights.

The Rosebud Sioux, also known as the Sicangu Lakota, reside on a reservation that includes all of Todd County, South Dakota, and additional lands in the four adjacent. That land, originally encompassing all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River, was entreatied to the greater Sioux nation in 1851 and 1868, but has been gradually reduced to its current boundaries by decades of territorial whittling by the federal government. Only in 1934 were the Rosebud Sioux officially recognized as a self-governing nation—see the Indian Reorganization Act (pdf)—and thus formally allotted ownership of land that, prior to the arrival of European colonists, had been their’s for centuries.

Today, life on the typical Native American reservation is far from perfect: Poverty, high unemployment, substandard education and healthcare are all major issues these communities face. Choosing to live on reservations, therefore, can be a powerful statement of sovereignty. To some, it is an act of self-determination intended to stand against centuries of forced-assimilation policies which stripped land, resources and even children from tribal communities.

Keystone XL brought this hard-won spirit of sovereignty under threat. The plan to expand an existing oil pipeline system, linking oil-rich tar sands in the Canadian province of Alberta with refineries and distributors across the US, would essentially bisect South Dakota, cutting straight through Rosebud Sioux tribal land. A longtime topic of concern for environmentalists, the Keystone XL pipeline raised hackles, being yet another instance in which the American government attempted to circumvent Native sovereignty in the pursuit of economic gain.

Passions boiled over in November following a vote in the US House of Representatives approving expansion. In a press release issued in response to the vote, Rosebud Sioux tribal president Cyril Scott said, “Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.” It was a statement intended to stoke passions, and perhaps rightfully so.

Tara Houska, a tribal rights attorney in Washington, DC, and a founding member of NotYourMascots.org, is more measured in her wording, but generally agrees with Scott’s assessment of the situation. The risk for local tribes would have been huge. Keystone XL brings with it the risk that spilled diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” might contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer, the only source of drinking water for tribes like the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux.

(photo by Ryan Redcorn)

In the event of a spill, “what does the federal government expect them to do?” Houska told Quartz, “Survive on bottled water? For years? Are they serious?”

Federal disregard for Native stakes in the pipeline expansion are part of a larger pattern of inattention, she added. Many area tribes, including the Oglala Sioux, feel they were inadequately consulted by authorities in Washington prior to congressional approval earlier in February. “When I got brought in, they had already had their quote unquote consultation,” Houska said. Washington’s envoys were apparently well out of their depth, seemingly unaware (or uninterested) in Keystone XL’s specific impact on Sioux reservations. “[Tribal representatives] ended up leaving the meeting!”

Even if a major industrial project, such as Keystone XL, skirts officially recognized tribal boundaries, sufficient consultation with area tribes is required by law, she explained. “There are often times when we have rights to treaty lands that were never officially ceded.” The lackluster meeting between Oglala Sioux representatives and federal authorities “did not meet the requirements of consultation,” she said.

In addition to potential environmental impacts, tribes require consultation on projects like Keystone XL for a number a reasons, chief among them issues pertaining to community safety. “It’s going to bring a large number of men into the area,” Houska said, citing concerns raised by South Dakota law enforcement and women’s rights advocacy-groups. The housing of about 1,000 pipeline laborers, mostly men, in TransCanada work camps placed close to reservations could cause an uptick in sexual assaults against area women. Native women are already 2.5 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than women of any other race, reports Mary Annette Pember for Indian Country Today. “The perpetrators of this violence are overwhelmingly non-Native,” she noted.

Beyond the practicalities of community health and security, the potential impact of the pipeline on the earth is of course of great concern as well. But, for Natives, a commitment to environmentalist values extends far beyond the political. “As a woman, I’m a waterkeeper. That’s part of my culture,” Tara Houska explained. (She is Minnesota Anishinaabe and a citizen of the Couchiching First Nation in Ontario.) “Being stewards of the earth, moving beyond fossil fuels, is more than just about sustainability for us. It’s a cultural requirement.”

“The Lakota people have always been stewards of this land,” president Scott said in his statement, insisting that weaning society off of its fossil-fuel dependency is key to brighter futures both on and off reservations. “We feel it is imperative to to provide safe and responsible alternative energy resources not only to tribal members, but to non-tribal-members as well,” he added. “We need to start remembering that the earth is our mother and stop polluting her, and start taking steps to preserve the land, water, and our grandchildren’s future.”

“It’s the fourth-largest aquifer in the world,” Houska said of the Ogallala Aquifer. “The largest in the United States. It provides 30% of the irrigation water for the country.” Any future industrial projects in the region could have similarly devastating aftermaths. “This issue affects you, whether you live on a reservation or in a big city.”

Correction: Due to a transcription error, an earlier version of this article misquoted Tara Houska as saying, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leading the meeting!” She said, “[Tribal leaders] ended up leaving the meeting,” referring to a consultation between tribes and federal authorities in Rapid City, SD, during which Sioux representatives walked out.

You can follow Jake on Twitter @jakeflanagin. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

Won this round, now let’s finish this fight. Onwards.#NoKXL #TimeToReject

Sign the UNITY letter: http://350.org/unityletter/?source=IEN

Sign the UNITY letter: http://350.org/unityletter/?source=IEN

Months Later, Arkansas Residents Still Hurting From ExxonMobil Tar Sands Spill

More than two months after ExxonMobil’s 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline burst and spewed a gusher of thick Canadian tar sands oil through Mayflower, AR, and into a marsh on Lake Conway—the state’s most popular fishing spot—residents are still complaining of health problems and are worried about poisonous impacts on wildlife and in the environment. Many locals and some scientists have little faith in the continuous rosy assurances from Exxon and the Unified Command that testing results show the environment is safe and that tar sands oil has not contaminated the lake. 

“It’s getting hot and the oil is bubbling up out of the cove after torrential rains. The smell seems to be getting worse at times when it gets hot. My headaches have been coming back.”

http://ecowatch.com/2013/months-later-arkansas-residents-hurting-exxonmobil-tar-sands-spill/

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Kahsatstenhsera gah-sad-sdanh-se-ra is a Kanienkeha:ka (Mohawk) word that means Strength in Unity. This short documentary details contemporary Indigenous resistance to tar sands pipeline expansion, in particular the Line 9 and Energy East pipelines, which threaten the health of our territories in the northeast of Turtle Island. It includes the voices and perspectives of Wolastiqiyik, Mi'kmaq, Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee land defenders. 

For more, go to: www.reclaimturtleisland.com

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Great Canadian Migrations: The #TarSands Pipeline - #environment

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#NOKXL - STOP #TarSands from Alberta Canada. According to Alberta’s department of health, First Nations living in the community of Fort Chipewyan, 200 kilometers downstream from the Alberta tar sands, have a higher than normal rate of rare and deadly cancers. 

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, a tribe living downstream of the tar sands operations.

There is a lot at stake when it comes to tar sands companies living up to their commitments to decontaminate their toxic water. This latest report by the ERCB should serve as yet another string in a long line of wake up calls for the Alberta government. –

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Proposed oil sands health study derailed after aboriginal band pulls support over cancer rate debate

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Photo Essay: Fort Chipewyan lives in the shadow of Alberta’s oil sands

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Billionaire Tom Steyer Launches Campaign to Rally Obama Supporters Against Keystone XL Pipeline

To demonstrate the dangers of the Keystone pipeline to American communities along its proposed route, Steyer commissioned the first-ever chemical analysis of tar sands oil collected from the March 2013 spill in Mayflower, AR. An independent laboratory analysis conducted by Environmental Working Group found seven highly toxic substances: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, xylene, chromium and lead. Rev. Ron Stief of the United Church of Christ poured out a sample of the oil to give attendees an idea of what it might be like to have the thick, sticky noxious-smelling substance spilled in their community.

http://ecowatch.com/2013/tom-steyer-launches-campaign-obama-supporters-against-keystone-xl-pipeline/

As you deliberate the #KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline, you are poised to make a decision that will signal either a dangerous commitment to the status quo, or bold leadership that will inspire millions counting on you to do the right thing for our shared climate.

You are among the first generation of leaders that knows better — leaders that have the knowledge, tools, and opportunity to pivot our societies away from fossil fuels and towards smarter, safer and cleaner energy. History will reflect on this moment and it will be clear to our children and grandchildren if you made the right choice….A rejection would signal a new course for the world’s largest economy. You know as well as we do the powerful precedent that this would set. This leadership by example would usher in a new era where climate change and pollution is given the urgent attention and focus it deserves in a world where the climate crisis is already a daily struggle for so many

—  A letter signed by Carter and nine other former recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize (via CBS News)
Wisconsin’s Pipeline Would Pump More Than Keystone XL
  • Wisconsin’s Pipeline Would Pump More Than Keystone XL
  • Susan Bence of WUWM reports
  • Here & Now Contributors Network
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What are Wisconsinites going to do about this?

Congress gave the green light to the the Keystone XL pipeline. The bill now goes to President Obama, who has promised a veto.

The hotly debated pipeline would carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil each day from Canada through the Great Plains, but a little known pipeline in Wisconsin would pump even more oil.

A company called Enbridge wants to boost the capacity of an existing pipeline called Line 61 that runs across the state, from the northern town of Superior, south to the Illinois border.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network,
Susan Bence of WUWM reports.

nationalobserver.com
Scientists trace cancer-linked pollutant to oil sands stockpiles
A research team of scientists from the University of Alberta has traced a major cancer-linked pollutant to dust from huge black stockpiles left by oil sands companies.

Dust blown away from stockpiles left over after oil sands upgrading is very likely a key source of a cancer-linked pollutant commonly found in the northern Alberta region, concludes a new peer-reviewed study.

The study, published in January in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, is one of the first to pinpoint the source of significant amounts of cancer-linked polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the oil sands region.

The research team, led by scientists from the University of Alberta, concluded that several companies using a process known as “delayed coking” in the oil sands were leaving the stockpiles of petroleum coke, which in turn was spreading PAHs in the region. The revelations could help industry and its regulators address a major health risk, without impacting production, said one of the study’s authors.

“My hope is that it wouldn’t be too difficult to get these piles out of the wind… buried might be the best place for this material,” said Jonathan Martin, a professor from the University of Alberta’s faculty of medicine, in an interview. “Now that we at least know that petcoke is an important source. I at least have a lot of optimism that something can be done about it.”

Continue Reading.

straight.com
David Suzuki: After Paris, why are we still talking pipelines?
Why are politicians contemplating spending billions on pipelines when the Paris commitment means 75 to 80 percent of known fossil-fuel deposits must be left in the ground?

With the December Paris climate agreement, leaders and experts from around the world showed they overwhelmingly accept that human-caused climate change is real and, because the world has continued to increase fossil-fuel use, the need to curb and reduce emissions is urgent.

In light of this, I don’t get the current brouhaha over Kinder Morgan, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, or the Energy East pipelines. Why are politicians contemplating spending billions on pipelines when the Paris commitment means 75 to 80 percent of known fossil-fuel deposits must be left in the ground?

Didn’t our prime minister, with provincial and territorial premiers, mayors, and representatives from nonprofit organizations, parade before the media to announce Canada now takes climate change seriously? I joined millions of Canadians who felt an oppressive weight had lifted and cheered mightily to hear that our country committed to keeping emissions at levels that would ensure the world doesn’t heat by more than 1.5 degrees C by the end of this century. With the global average temperature already one degree higher than preindustrial levels, a half-degree more leaves no room for business as usual.

The former government’s drive to make Canada a petro superpower distorted the Canadian economy into greater fossil-fuel dependence, with catastrophic consequences when the price of oil collapsed. The lesson should have been learned long ago: Heavy dependence on a single revenue stream like fish, trees, wheat, minerals, or even one factory or industry is hazardous if that source suffers a reversal in fortune like resource depletion, unanticipated cost fluctuations, or stiff competition.

Coal stocks have already sunk to the floor, so why is there talk of building or expanding coal terminals? Low oil prices have pushed oilsands bitumen toward unprofitability, so why the discussion of expanding this carbon-intensive industry? Fracking is unbelievably unsustainable because of the immense amounts of water used in the process, seismic destabilization, and escape of hyperwarming methane from wells. Exploration for new oil deposits—especially in hazardous areas like the deep ocean, the Arctic, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other critical wildlife habitat—should stop immediately.

Pipeline arguments are especially discouraging, with people claiming Quebec is working against the interests of Alberta and Canada because the leadership of the Montreal Metropolitan Community—representing 82 municipalities and nearly half the province’s population—voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposed Energy East pipeline project, which would carry 1.1 million barrels of oilsands bitumen and other oil products from Alberta to refineries and ports in the east. Some have thrown out the antidemocratic and, frankly, anti-Canadian notion that because Quebec has received equalization payments it should shut up about pipeline projects.

National unity is about steering Canada onto a sustainable track and looking out for the interests of all Canadians. Continuing to build fossil-fuel infrastructure and locking ourselves into a future of increasing global warming isn’t the way to go about it. Shifting to a 21st-century clean-energy economy would create more jobs, unity, and prosperity—across Canada and not just in one region—than continuing to rely on a polluting, climate-altering sunset industry. Leaders in Quebec should be commended for taking a strong stand for the environment and climate—and for all of Canada.

The Paris target means we have to rethink everything. Energy is at the heart of modern society, but we have to get off fossil fuels. Should we expand airports when aircraft are the most energy-intensive ways to travel? Why build massive bridges and tunnels when we must transport goods and people differently? The global system in which food travels thousands of kilometres from where it’s grown to where it’s consumed makes no sense in a carbon-constrained world. Agriculture must become more local, so the Peace Valley must serve as the breadbasket of the North rather than a flooded area behind a dam.

The urgency of the need for change demands that we rethink our entire energy potential and the way we live. It makes no sense to continue acting as if we’ve got all the time in the world to get off the path that created the crisis in the first place. That’s the challenge, and for our politicians, it’s a huge task as well as a great opportunity.

#environment - FACT: Mercury levels are now 16 times higher at tar sands development sites in Alberta, Canada.

Scientists have found a nearly 7,500-square-mile ring of land and water contaminated by mercury surrounding the tar sands in Alberta, where energy companies are producing oil and shipping it throughout Canada and the U.S.

Government scientists are preparing to publish a report that found levels of mercury are up to 16 times higher around the tar-sand operations — principally due to the excavation and transportation of bitumen in the sands by oil and gas companies, according to Postmedia-owned Canadian newspapers like The Vancouver Sun.

Environment Canada researcher Jane Kirk recently presented the findings at a toxicology conference in Nashville, Tenn.

The revelations add to growing concerns over the environmental impact of mining the tar sands. Many environmentalists charge that extracting oil from the sands will lead to an increase in carbon emissions, the destruction of the land, water contamination and health problems for Canadians. The debate over the tar sands crossed over into the United States when energy company TransCanada proposed building the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil to the southeastern U.S. for refining and distribution.

Kirk and her colleagues’ research shows that the development of the tar sands may be responsible for spreading mercury — which can cause nervous-system damage — far beyond the areas where drilling and transportation are taking place.

The research suggests that the tar-sand development has created a ring of mercury contamination, with areas close to the sands showing much higher levels of mercury than before development.

The researchers collected samples of dirt, snow, birds eggs and other materials from more than 100 sites to perform their analysis.

While the mercury levels found around the sands are still lower than in other parts of Canada (notably around coal plants and incinerators), mercury is particularly worrisome to environmentalists because it can bioaccumulate, meaning it becomes more concentrated as it works its way up the food chain.

In a report published in October, another Canadian researcher found elevated levels of mercury in bird eggs downstream from the tar sands.

Kirk and her team also found traces of methylmercury, a more toxic form of mercury, in snow for the first time in the area.

(via Al Jazeera America

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Enbridge, and Keystone XL Tar Sands is wrong for the Globe - Time to #RejectAndProtect - Defend our Climate, Defend our Communities

The battleground for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline may be in Congress, but it’s Canada’s First Nations who are going to get hurt.

Learn more: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/keystone-pipeline/ Via NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

One of the world’s richest forests stretches across northern Alberta, making the Canadian province home to a vast array of migrating birds, diverse wildlife, and the First Nations people who once thrived on the region’s natural bounty. But in recent decades, mining companies have torn up the land and polluted its waters in a quest to extract tar sands, which yield a heavy crude oil trapped in a mixture of sand and clay.

The fuel is dirty; the extraction and refining process is even dirtier. It’s so energy-intensive, in fact, that tar sands oil is barely economical to bring to market.

That’s why the industry is so desperate to build Keystone XL. The proposed $7 billion tar sands oil pipeline would run 2,000 miles across the American heartland, crossing the country’s largest freshwater aquifer to reach the Texas Gulf Coast. There, refineries would process a projected 830,000 barrels of dirty crude daily, most of them bound for overseas markets, with negligible impact on U.S. energy independence or gas prices.

The new pipeline would be harmful for people, water, wildlife, and climate. Here are five reasons why Keystone XL is a bad idea and tar sands oil should stay in the ground.

1. It’s not safe.

Studies show that tar sands pipelines are more vulnerable to leaks than those carrying traditional crude because of the oil’s corrosive nature and the chemicals necessary to make it run through the pipes. Despite the industry’s grand safety claims, we also know from recent spills and subsequent government investigations that its leak-detection systems are subpar and its spill containment and clean-up methods inadequate.

Just look at the 2010 tar sands disaster in western Michigan – the site of what has become the most expensive onshore oil spill in U.S. history. Four years and a billion dollars later, tar sands contamination still plagues the Kalamazoo River and nearby communities.

A pipeline spill would threaten the land and water supply of some 110,000 ranches and farms in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska that produced more than $40 billion worth of food in 2012. In those three states alone, the pipeline would cross 1,073 rivers, lakes, and streams, including the Yellowstone River in Montana and the Platte River in Nebraska, along with tens of thousands of acres of wetlands. It would also run within a mile of more than 3,000 wells that provide drinking and irrigation water in those states.

2. It’s bad for climate.

Because of its silty composition, mining and refining tar sands oil demands an enormous amount of energy – much more than conventional crude. Keystone XL would ramp up tar sands production, requiring even more energy and creating greater carbon pollution: the equivalent of Americans driving an unthinkable 60 billion extra miles every year.

NASA scientist James Hansen estimates that the remaining tar sands reserves contain twice the amount of carbon pollution emitted by the entire global oil industry – in all of human history. “If Canada proceeds and we do nothing,” Hansen wrote in a New York Times editorial, “it will be game over for the climate.”

3. It’s bad for health and the environment.

Once mined, tar sands leave behind a filthy legacy in the form of toxic sludge stored in giant, largely unregulated “ponds,” which are leaking a combined three million gallons of toxic sludge into the once-pristine Athabasca River – every day. Health-care providers fear they are causing cancer and other illnesses in the native communities.

The mining operations are also tearing up Alberta’s boreal forest, home to millions of migratory birds, caribou, bears, wolves, and endangered species like the whooping crane.

4. It’s bad for the economy.

Advocates tout the project as a national jobs creator. The reality is, Keystone XL would likely kill more jobs than it would add. According the State Department, it would create 1,950 construction jobs for two years. Once complete? Thirty-five new permanent American jobs, according to pipeline builder TransCanada.

But won’t refined tar sands oil help fuel the United States and reduce gas prices? Think again. Tar sands miners want Keystone XL because it will help them ship oil overseas to an international market, where their product will fetch more money and add billions of dollars in annual profits. That’s a losing deal for everyone – except Big Oil.

5. It’s a step backward.

At a moment when climate action is more urgent than ever, building this pipeline would be a step into a past instead of a shift into a clean energy future. Keystone XL would represent a long-term commitment to the expansion of dangerous tar sands oil when we need to be investing in safe, renewable sources of energy instead.

But Keystone XL is the linchpin for further tar sands investment. Without it, tar sands mining doesn’t stand much of a future. The pipeline must be rejected, before it’s too late.

RELATED NRDC REPORTS

Climate Impacts of the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

A Tar Sands Pipeline to Increase Oil Prices

Keystone XL Hinders Climate Change Progress

Undermining U.S. Energy Security

Keystone XL Will Hurt U.S. Job Creation

All NRDC reports on Keystone XL

>>—> In this documentary, Broken Rainbow (removal act of the 70’s) .. The Navajo and Traditional Hopi (30:03 mins talks about their responsibility to care for Mother Earth) Council Elders predicted human consumption of “climate change,” for we are effecting the balance that these catastrophic poisonous extractions from Mother Earth will cause. 

Decades later, their predictions were accurate, effecting the balance, of Mother Earth. #ClimateChange