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Holding back the tar sands: Keystone XL and civil disobedience - web chat

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About the tar sands and Keystone XL

TransCanada, one of the largest companies involved in tar sands exploration, has proposed a 1,661 mile, 36-inch extension of the newly built Keystone Pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Texas in the United States. This would expand the capacity for refining oil produced from the Alberta tar sands by approximately one million barrels per day.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands are higher than those emitted from conventional oil due to the energy intensive extraction process. The extraction process is also highly costly in terms of natural gas and water usage, resulting in a legacy of huge tailing ponds of contaminated water. In addition the development of the tar sands is resulting in an attack on the lifestyle of indigenous populations in the area.

The Keystone XL extension is planned to traverse six U.S. states and cross major rivers, including the Missouri River, Yellowstone, and Red Rivers, as well as key sources of drinking and agricultural water, such as the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies two million Americans. Operation of TransCanada's Keystone I pipeline has already shown that spills are likely prompting a corrective action order from the Department of Transportation.

Panelist bios

Post Carbon Institute Fellow Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben is a writer and activist. He is author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, and a founder member of 350.org...Read more


 

Post Carbon Institute Fellow David Hughes
David Hughes is a geoscientist who has studied the energy resources of Canada for nearly four decades, including 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada as a scientist and research manager...Read more


 

Kate Sheppard
Kate Sheppard covers energy and environmental politics in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She was previously the political reporter for Grist and a writing fellow at The American Prospect....Read more


 

 

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