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Petitioning President of the United States of America Barack Obama

Declare a Moratorium on Tar Sands Development in the United States

Dear Friends,

Barack Obama was elected president of the United States by a hopeful, optimistic people. With the looming threat of climate change coupled with an increasingly xenophobic government, we knew that we had to elect a champion for the progressive cause, and we knew we had that in the then Senator Obama. Four years later and with climate changing greenhouse gases still on the rise, we are faced with what could be one of the most devastating attacks on environmental stability North America has ever seen.

The Keystone XL project, led by Canadian energy company TransCanada, is a project that will carry up to 900,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Nederland, Texas. These expansive development plans will destroy an area larger than the state of Florida and take out with it the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of people, as well countless sacred sites and burial lands of our indigenous peoples.

Tar Sands development has a proven record of increasing cancer risk in nearby populations as well as poisoning water systems with toxins such as mercury, arsenic and lead. TransCanada specifically has a proven record of absolute inability to enforce appropriate safety measures to stop oil spills from their operations, with 14 spills in the U.S. alone from June 2010 to its US portion's temporary shut-down in May 2011. All of this devastation for a quick profit to the pockets of producers of a finite resource, all in the face of our climate's loudly ticking clock. TransCanada's Tar Sands project is the major contributor to Canada's failure to meet carbon regulations as determined by the Kyoto agreement, and an expansion to the United States will only take us further from that goal.

The indigenous peoples of the United States are clear and united in their message to the project's developers that the pipeline is not welcome in their territory. According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a "free, prior and informed consent" is required of our natives before such a plan can be signed into effect. The United States government, following the Canadian government's example, has chosen to ignore and therefore violate the undisputable rights of our indigenous peoples by granting a permit to TransCanada. The surrounding areas, mainly inhabited by people of color, indigenous peoples and working class citizens are already experiencing unprecedented rates of cancer and respiratory illness, and the Keystone XL pipeline will only add to these unfortunate statistics by releasing more air pollution than these communites have ever experienced in their history.

Environmentalists have been clear in their solution to a lagging American economy with suggestions of a wide array of sustainable energy projects that could be taking place in these same areas. These plans have been ignored at the behest of powerful oil lobbyists, despite the fact that the evidence is clear that renewable energy is the only way to secure an upward economy for North America. TransCanada's permit application to the Canadian government openly admitted that it will increase oil prices in the United States by $4billion per year. This is not good math, and is far from being in the best interest of our country.

We ask that President Obama and Madame Secretary of State Clinton reconsider their permit allowance to TransCanada.

We ask our government to invest in a cleaner, sustainable energy future for our country. We ask our government to respect the rights and future of our indigenous peoples. We ask our government to apply basic common sense and basic ethics to its decision. We ask our government to declare an immediate moratorium on Tar Sands development in the United States.

Yes we should. Yes we can. Yes we will.


James Gillespie

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  • President of the United States of America
    Barack Obama

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