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November 22, 2010

Citizens Profiled in New Sierra Club Report Protest the Keystone XL Across the Country

As Secretary Clinton mulls the decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to cut through six states and the United State's largest aquifer, citizens across the country have been coming together to show Secretary Clinton this pipeline is not the right choice for our health, safety and the future of our clean-energy economy.

Coinciding with a new report the Sierra Club released last week called "Toxic Tar Sands: Profiles from the Front Lines", farmers, landowners and citizens whose livelihoods and health are at risk from the toxic Keystone XL pipeline are speaking out against this risky project.

From the prairie grasslands of Nebraska to the smokestacks of Houston's Ship Channel, communities gathered at press conferences and town hall meetings to call on Secretary Clinton to block this toxic project and move the US forward, not backward, towards a cleaner, more prosperous clean energy future. The rallies and events took place over the last several days across the country, and continue today.

In Detroit, dozens of residents gathered next to the Marathon Oil refinery which is currently being expanded to process tar sands oil from the Keystone XL pipeline. Dr. Dolores Leonard, a retired African American professor who lives a few blocks from the Marathon refinery and was featured in the Sierra Club report, spoke at the event, saying, "there are so many health and quality-of-life problems resulting from all the heavy industry –- and now tar sands –- in the neighborhood, and we live with it every day.  This tar sands refinery brings illness for miles around, along with stress for residents who are watching it being built…. [We feel] trapped and helpless."

In Lincoln, NE, ranchers and farmers whose land would be traversed by the pipeline met for a town hall meeting to educate themselves about risks of the pipeline and thank their U.S. senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns for expressing concerns about the pipeline to Secretary Clinton. 

In downtown Chicago, IL, protestors with Rainforest Action Network demonstrated outside of a conference of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which TransCanada –- owner of the Keystone XL pipeline -- is a member.

In Houston, TX, the Sierra Club held a press conference on the steps of City Hall, calling on Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Secretary Clinton to protect them from the polluting pipeline. Juan Parras, a resident of the Ship Channel neighborhood, was joined by public health experts in speaking about Houston air pollution and increased likelihood of childhood leukemia, asthma, lung disease, cancer, and other diseases that would come from refining toxic tar sands oil. 

In Missoula, MT, activists with the Indigenous Environmental Network and Northern Rockies Rising Tide convened for an "International Tar Sands Resistance Summit" to strategize about aiding communities negatively impacted by the Alberta tar sands excavation, the Keystone XL pipeline, and massive equipment shipments connected to pipeline construction.

Today, concerned citizens in Sioux Falls, SD, plan to hold a press conference featuring Carolyn Harkness and Ed Cable, whose rural community would be destroyed by a proposed new tar sands oil refinery, Hyperion. 

In Topeka, KS, public officials and Sierra Club members met to express concerns about economically-strained municipalities granting massive tax breaks for TransCanada's "Keystone Cushing extension" pipeline, which has already been completed through a wide swath of Kansas farmland. 

The citizens featured in the new report represent only a fraction of those who suffer the true costs of our oil addiction. Thousands of Americans must live with toxic oil infrastructure degrading their health and communities every day. We must not continue to sacrifice the well being of others to fuel our voracious appetite for dirty oil, especially from toxic projects like the Keystone XL. For the health of our communities, our economy, and our children's future, we must work aggressively to break our addiction to toxic fuels like tar sands oil.

With her decision to deny or allow the Keystone XL pipeline, Secretary Clinton will be moving us toward a new energy future, or taking us three steps back and crippling our efforts to come clean. Tell Secretary Clinton the Keystone XL is bad for Americans' health, pollutes our air and water, and takes us down the wrong path in building a cleaner, more prosperous future for our country.

-- Gabriel DeRita


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