Thousands March Against Tar Sands at People's Climate March

Activists from across the United States and Canada come together to call for a moratorium on dangerous, polluting tar sands expansion projects

NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - As tens of thousands of people gathered in New York City this weekend for the largest demonstration for climate action in history, representatives from communities across the United States and Canada joined together to march as a "Tar Sands Bloc" to make their voices heard in opposition to continued expansion of tar sands, one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuel sources on the planet.

In addition to being a disaster for the climate, and clearly incompatible with the commitments President Obama and the global community will discuss at this week's United Nations Climate Summit, tar sands extraction and transportation projects are already threatening communities across the continent with devastating pollution and impacts on the land, water, health, property, cultural traditions, and livelihoods of the people nearby.

A broad coalition marched in solidarity with indigenous leaders who are leading the frontlines in the fight against tar sands. They joined together to tell President Obama, Prime Minister Harper, and other world leaders that enough is enough: they will not stop fighting until they stop tar sands at the source.

"Tar sands crude is a disaster for the climate, for clean air and water, and for communities at the source, along pipeline routes, and those living next to refineries and export terminals," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "To protect the climate and our communities, President Obama must reject tar sands pipelines like Keystone XL and the Alberta Clipper. The Sierra Club stands behind communities and activists coming together at the People's Climate March to say, 'We won't stop fighting tar sands until we stop it at the source, and usher in a new era of clean energy prosperity.'"

"As tens of thousands of people across America and Canada march this weekend for our climate, and as world leaders gather on Tuesday to discuss climate change commitments, Canada's lack of progress stands out," said Danielle Droitsch, Canada Project Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The Canadian government's steadfast support of dirty tar sands is stopping the country from achieving its climate goals – despite efforts from Provinces and citizens. This makes it more important than ever for the United States to be a climate leader, which means rejecting Keystone XL and other tar sands projects that will only worsen climate change."

"Tar sands is exactly the kind of energy that is pushing the planet toward climate catastrophe," said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity. "It's long past time for President Obama to reject tar sands and other fossil fuel projects that only dig us deeper into the climate crisis. A healthy, livable future for people and wildlife depends on us shifting toward safer energy sources – not 20 years from now but today."

"It is scandalous that Canada's Prime Minister is not attending this summit, but it's not unexpected," says Andrea Harden-Donahue, the Council of Canadians' Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner, who is helping coordinate a bus to the march from Ottawa. "Canada has become a climate criminal, from the muzzling of scientists to the slashing of environmental protections and rubber-stamping of fossil fuel infrastructure. That's why it's so important for Canadians to be present at this march, and it's why Canadians are doing all we can to stop pipeline projects like TransCanada's Energy East, the biggest tar sands pipeline proposed. We care, and we demand action, for people and the planet."

Tim Gray of Environmental Defence Canada said, "Canada needs to stop giving its biggest polluter – the oil and gas industry – a free pass. Despite years of federal government promises, there is still no law limiting the soaring greenhouse gas pollution from the tar sands, the fastest growing source of carbon emissions in the country. If industry gets its way and triples tar sands production over the next few decades, greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands will soar by over 250 per cent. Canada needs to stop sacrificing our climate in the name of reckless tar sands development. Canadians deserve better."

"Tens of thousands of young voters are coming to the People's Climate March to say to President Obama that Keystone XL and any tar sands pipeline do not pass his climate test. He needs to stand with communities and indigenous peoples directly impacted by this dirty and dangerous industry and keep tar sands in the ground," said Kendall Mackey, Tar Sands Campaign Coordinator for Energy Action Coalition. "The big and powerful movement we see at the People's Climate March is fighting for a clean energy future for all, and we won't stop until we stop tar sands at the source."

Jane Kleeb, of Bold Nebraska, said, "Nebraskans take action when we see a problem. Carbon pollution in our state has been ignored too long by politicians. Citizens are calling on every level of government to take climate change seriously in order for the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers to continue to thrive. We march for action."

Aldo Seoane, Shield the People Project, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said, "Our tribal nations are together in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline. It is not in the best interest of our people or of the land. Working together with our non-native allies we will defeat the TransCanada tar sands pipeline.  'No Tar Sands on Treaty Lands.' The proposed route of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline crosses directly through Great Sioux Nation Treaty lands as defined by both the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties. The Tribes have yet to be properly consulted on TransCanada's Keystone project by government officials in accordance with federal law, and it opposes the construction of this and any other pipelines through its territory without its free, prior, and informed consent. We urge president Obama to say no to the pipeline."

Andy Pearson, of MN350, said, "Minnesota is fighting the expansion of Keystone-like pipelines in the ground while oil tank cars clog our railroads. Seven Enbridge pipelines full of Canadian tar sands crude and fracked North Dakota Bakken oil ooze over a million barrels a day across our state while Enbridge and the State Department cozily circumvent the Presidential Permit process. We demand President Obama keeps his State Department in check and applies the same climate test to the Enbridge Alberta Clipper and Line 3 in Minnesota as to Keystone XL: if it's bad for the climate, it doesn't get built."

Eriel Deranger, Communications Director of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said, "The expansion of Alberta's Tar Sands in the Athabasca delta, one of the world's last remaining fresh water deltas is not only psychotic it's unjust and unacceptable. The ACFN have drawn a line in the sand and will do whatever it takes to protect our land, our people, our rights, and our future generations to come in solidarity with all social movements converging in at the People's Climate March in NYC. We are at a pivotal moment in history, we can choose to let governments and industry destroy this planet for future generations, or we can stand together and say enough is enough. Alberta's Tar Sands are out of control. If we don't stop it at the source, we are green lighting the destruction of my people's lands and rights and the continued psychotic dirty fossil fuel addiction that will be our end."

Carl Whiting, of the Wisconsin Safe Energy Alliance (WISE), said, "An ever-growing understanding of our place in this vast ecosystem is pitched against an increasing awareness of the likelihood of our own annihilation. These two concepts are coming together in this generation, right here and right now. If we do not act, we will soon seal our fate. But if we act now, and act boldly, we may yet offer the greatest gift any generation could possibly give the next; a chance for a livable future, and a chance to love this earth as we have loved it. That is why we are going to New York City. That is why we are in this fight."

Peter Anderson of 350-Madison said, "One of the main Enbridge tar sands pipelines bisects the state of Wisconsin, threatening the many rivers it crosses on the way to refineries in Illinois and Indiana. With the terrible record of accidents Enbridge has compiled, our property owners along the route, our first responders, our local jurisdictions who will have to manage inevitable accidents, our citizens determined to protect the state's environment, we are committed to stopping expansion of this line."

Jade Walker, of 350VT, said, "We have mobilized over 1,000 Vermonters from every corner of the state to march with tar sands fighters, First Nations people of the Americas, activists, community members, educators, parents, youth, organized labor, and beyond. We are so excited to take our struggle for the people and the planet from the green mountains to the streets of New York City."

Mary Humphries, Lead Strategist of ForestEthics, said, "I need to know my grandchildren will experience the grandeur of the natural world the way I do. And while governments and corporations fail to act, we are marching today because we can power our world with clean energy, we can stop carbon pollution and leave dirty coal and oil in the ground."

Crystal Lameman, member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Treaty No.6, said, "We are travelling to New York from our communities in Alberta to unite with Indigenous peoples across North America and the world, to join our allies fighting tar sands expansion and remind our host country that importing tar sands oil has destructive repercussions on thousands of lives and millions of hectares.  We are coming from frontline communities with one clear message, 'Stop tar sands at the source.'"

Ellen Gabreil, Kanehsatà:ke Mohawk Community Member, said, "It is time for all peoples to voice their defense of their rights to a quality of life that is being threatened by the Energy East and Tar Sands industry. This issue is about protecting peoples' right to a quality of life that includes clean water, a safe environment, and the right to voice their concerns about the threats to these rights that pipelines like Energy East pose. The safety record of resource extraction industries is dismal and does not reassure this generation that there will be a clean and secure environment in which to live. Our ancestors teach us that we must always be mindful that the work we do today will affect 7 generations from now. The time is now to protect the quality of life of future generations and Mother Earth against irresponsible resource extraction."

SOURCE: New Partners

For further information: Gabby Brown, gabby@newpartners.com, 914-261-4626

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