Daryl Hanna and other environmentalists arrested in protest against tar sands pipeline

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By Kristen Gwynne, AlterNet

Tar Sands Criminal Imbecility to Sweep Scross the US. Obama already gave his approval. Are these protests too little too late? And why does the Obama betrayal fail to surprise us? What tactics do we need to deploy?—Eds

Daryl Hanna: Let a 1000 Hannas bloom.

Actress Daryl Hannah (Bladerunner, Kill Bill, Splash) and other environmental activists were arrested today for protesting plans for the sure-to-be-disastrous tar sands pipeline (Keystone Xl). In a sixties-style sit-in, activists gathered outside of the White House to express their opposition to the dangerous pipeline that would span all the way from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. According to Retuers, more than seventy peaceful protesters were cuffed and taken away for advocating to protect their Earth and future.

Hannah and other environmental supporters had good reason to oppose the $7 billion plans for the tar sands pipeline. Extracting oil from tar sands causes three times the amount of global warning as conventional oil. In light of recent extreme weather – like the freak Earthquake and Hurricane that hit the East Coast this week – building a giant tar sands pipeline is an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.

What’s more, mining tar sands requires serious damage to ecosystems and human health.

As Janet Redman said in a recent AlterNet article:

The only way to unlock the reserve is to scrape off a part of the forest the size of Florida or melt the oil in place using a steam and pump process that decimates life on the surface.

But the idiocy doesn’t end there. It takes three barrels of water to extract every one barrel of oil from tar sands.

Redman added:

And after it’s used the vast majority of polluted wastewater is sent to tailing ponds that have been found to leak over a billion gallons of water per year contaminated with cyanide, ammonia and other toxic chemicals.

People in Alberta living downstream of this toxic soup, especially First Nations peoples, have seen soaring rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism in their communities. To add insult to injury, these communities are also impacted economically and culturally as fisheries and sacred sites are laid waste.

At the other end of the proposed pipeline, communities already bearing a heavy toxic burden on the Gulf Coast will see a spike in their exposure to pollutants. Tar sands oil contains more sulfur, nitrogen, lead, nickel, mercury and arsenic than conventional crude oil, and refining it will spew chemicals into the local air and water.

Oh, and there’s this:

TransCanada’s Keystone I pipeline has already ruptured a dozen times in its first year of operation, gushing oil into the environment. Earlier this year a single spill released about 500 barrels of crude in a fountain of oil that, according to one account, “reached above the treetops.”

This is not the kind of future most Americans want, for themselves or their children. The tar sands pipeline can be stopped. Unfortunately, for many activists, protecting our planet’s future comes at the risk of arrest.

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