Amidst a horrific week of news about Japan, there was some truly good news yesterday in the fight to keep dirty coal and oil out of our air, water and atmosphere.
Ambre Energy was foiled in its effort to open a coal export terminal on the coast of the Pacific Northwest; TransCanada was delayed in spreading crude tar sands oil to the U.S. via the controversial Keystone XL pipeline; and oil giant Enbridge was dealt a deeply funny hoax by our friends the Yes Men. It is critical to remember, especially during such a dark week, that our movement is making major strides in the effort to build a clean energy future.
Score 1: Ambre Energy Ltd said yesterday that it will surrender a permit to build a coal export terminal in Washington state after enormous opposition from those concerned about environmental and public health impacts. The proposed Longview export terminal would have shipped coal mined in Montana and Wyoming to Asia through the Columbia River in Washington. The cancellation of the Longview coal export terminal is critical in sending the message to the coal industry that we don’t want coal burned here and we don’t want it burned anywhere.
As Ross Macfarlane, Senior Advisor for Climate Solutions put it:
“The profits were headed out of the country, but the health problems and pollution would have been here to stay. This idea of turning Washington into a way station for coal – which will pollute our atmosphere with tons of carbon dioxide and toxics – is a losing idea for our health and our economy.”
Score 2: Approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which would pump crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to Texas refineries through a 1660 mile pipeline, has been delayed. Thanks to some serious political pressure from environmentalists in the U.S. and Canada, the Obama administration yesterday ordered additional environmental reviews of the $7 billion pipeline before making a final decision.
As Kate Colarulli, Sierra Club Dirty Fuels Campaign Director, explained:
“We are very pleased that the State Department is taking a closer look at Keystone XL. Now we need to make sure they do a thorough job. If any foreign oil project requires close scrutiny by our government, it’s this one. This project would carry toxic, dangerous tar sands oil right through America’s heartland, putting our drinking water and farming at risk.”
Score 3. Early yesterday, the world learned of oil transport giant Enbridge’s strategy for handling inevitable oil spills along its proposed pipeline through pristine British Columbian wilderness: mop it up with human hair. The fake initiative, dubbed MyHairCares, was promoted in a Video News Release and ran in a number of major news outlets, but was pulled after a denial by Enbridge.
Shannon McPhail, a former Canadian oil worker and Canadian spokesperson for People Enbridge Ruined in Michigan (PERM), the group responsible for MyHairCares (wink wink), said:
“This was a funny way to dramatize the fact that neither Enbridge nor any other oil company can prevent spills, and that they basically have no cleanup plan.”
Just last summer, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Enbridge’s northern gateway pipeline proposes to ship oil from the Alberta tar sands to an export terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia.
I must admit, it does feel good to score against dirty energy companies sometimes!