New Internationalist

PODCAST: Dirty oil

In this month’s show Climate Radio explores why it’s imperative that Barack Obama says no to the Keystone XL pipeline if he is serious about acting on climate change. The pipeline would help drive Canada’s proposed expansion of its already devastatingly destructive tar sands industry and we talk to the people who are fighting the project through direct action, a nationwide divestment campaign, legal challenges and a range of imaginative interventions. We also look at how Europe is drafting legislation to keep dirty tar sands oil out of Europe.

Jamie Henn,
Eriel Deranger, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade
Emily Coats, UK Tar Sands Network
Patrick Sullivan,Centre for Biological Diversity

Listen to the podcast here.

Keystone XL Pipeline Protest at the White House
Keystone XL pipeline protest at the White House tarsandsaction, under a CC License

Keystone what?

The Keystone XL pipeline has become an iconic fight for the climate movement because it would facilitate the expansion of tar sands oil production in Canada which top NASA scientist James Hansen has said would mean ‘game over’ for the climate. Campaigners are increasingly turning to civil disobedience in this fight to improve the odds in a country where politicians have been corrupted by oil dollars. In Oklahoma and Texas, landowners have joined environmentalists in a rolling campaign of direct action against the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline which Obama has already approved. The campaign has included tree sits, hunger strikes, people locking themselves inside pipes and occupations of TransCanada’s offices.

Cultural genocide

Tar sands development also carries the threat of cultural genocide for First Nations in Canada. The pollution of ground water by the massive lakes of toxic tailings produced as a waste product by tar sands extraction is entering the food chain and increasing the incidence of cancer in First Nations communities The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation are fighting two new proposed Shell projects close to their territory through ongoing legal challenges. The community has also taken part in direct action after Canada rewrote its environmental laws in accordance with the wishes of oil lobbyists in order to expedite expansion of tar sands. This rewriting of Canadian law helped spark the nationwide uprising Idle No More and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation are threatening an escalation of direct action unless the government retracts this legislation.

Keep tar sands out of Europe!

In Europe we are engaged in our own struggle to say no to tar sands oil. We can be tar sands free if legislation designed to reduce emissions from transport fuels (the Fuel Quality Directive or FQD) goes ahead. Studies have shown tar sands oil to be 23 per cent more polluting than conventional oil. The Canadian government unleashed a multi-million dollar PR and lobbying campaign against the legislation, enlisting the British government as a key ally. These conspirators have been successful in postponing a vote on the legislation, raising the spectre of tar sands oil coming into Europe by the back door via Pembrokeshire in Wales. The UK Tar Sands Network has been working to expose this unwelcome meddling with some viral interventions.

If you want to take action on this issue visit the Climate Radio website for some ideas.

Listen to the podcast here

Climate Radio is broadcast by Resonance FM on the third Monday of every month and archived at the Climate Radio website.

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About the author

Phil England a New Internationalist contributor

Phil England is producer of Climate Radio and co-founder of the award-winning community radio station Resonance FM. In 2012 he produced an alternative audio tour for the Tate Modern as part of the campaign to end oil sponsorship of the arts. His freelance writing has appeared in The Independent, The Herald, The Ecologist, Variant and The Wire.

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