Thursday, February 14, 2013
Environmental State of the Union
On the front page of the Globe and Mail today there was a photo of protesters in Washington, there to visually and vocally express opposition to the Keystone pipeline whose route is from the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Texas. It would wend its way through some sensitive environmental zones and across the Ogallala aquifer, an essential source of water in the west. I noticed that environmental writer, activist, and Christian, Bill McKibben, was front and centre, although he wasn't identified. A number of celebrities and activists were amongst those arrested for failing to disperse.
The hope is that the commitment President Obama made to addressing climate change in the State of the Union address earlier this week will result in cancellation of this pipeline project, one which has been the source of considerable controversy south of the border.
I'm trying to sort through this one, to be honest. While a vocal group of Americans have brought attention to this cause it doesn't change fossil fuel dependency in the U.S. And do people seriously think that producing natural gas through fracking is a viable alternative? I have noticed as well that even though some of us Canucks have written to American Christian groups concerned about Keystone, pointing out that Northern Gateway is an issue here, it just doesn't register. Is this a case of NIMBY?
Then there is the aquifer. That non-renewable underground source of water is being "strip-mined" to support agriculture in regions not suited for it. Why isn't there the same level of urgency about that precious resource?
On this side of the border the federal and western provincial governments support Keystone. Alberta's economy has become a one-trick pony and is suffering because of falling fossil fuel revenue. From my standpoint it demonstrates a foolish short-term economic strategy, but it is the prime minister who is an economist, right?
Oh yes, the U.S. ambassador, David Jacobsen, made noises yesterday that seem to imply that whichever way the president goes, so must go Canada. So much for being a sovereign nation.
This is a fine mess we have got ourselves into Ollie. Maybe we aren't Laurel and Hardy though. It sounds more like Keystone Cops. It does show how complicated these issues are, although complexity is no reason to lose interest or heart.
Are you following the Keystone debate? Once again, should we care as Christians, and what should our denomination be doing?