Keystone XL Comparison

Climate change is already occurring, with sea level rise, ocean acidification and greatly increased frequency and intensity of droughts, floods, forest fires and other extreme weather events. If carbon pollution is allowed to increase and world temperatures rise beyond a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit target, the frequency and intensity of such natural disasters will increase greatly. There will be many more fresh water and food shortages and more wars will be fought over limited resources. The future of our children and grandchildren is at risk.

In his July 2013 article in Rolling Stone , Bill McKibben discusses “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” (See also McKibben’sVideo on this topic). He points out that the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a team of London financial anlysts, estimates that fossil-fuel companies’ proven coal, oil and gas reserves equal about 2,795 gigatons of CO2, or five times the amount we can release to maintain 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of warming — the maximum world governments agree is safe. Computer models calculate,  that even if we stabilize CO2 at its current level, temperatures will rise above the 3.6 degree target. At our present rate we’re 15 years from reaching this tipping point.

The Pacific Northwest — Oregon,Washington and British Columbia — is being pressured by wealthy fossil fuel companies to exacerbate this pollution.  In an article and embedded videofrom Sightline Institute entitled “The Thin Green Line,” Eric de Place points out that the “Pacific Northwest stands squarely between the most voracious energy markets in the world and huge fossil fuel deposits — Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, Alberta Tar Sands and remote natural gas fields….“ Numerous facilities are being proposed in the Pacific Northwest to transport these fossil fuels to Asia. These include coal trains and barges, oil trains, natural gas pipelines and liquefaction facilities and the requisite ports. If all of these facilities are built and operated, they will “unleash the carbon equivalent of roughly five Keystone XL pipelines.”

Oregon has a reputation for caring about “sustainability.” We have a land use planning system that’s unique in the U.S. We require our largest utilities to derive 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Clearly, it is hypocritical for Oregon to facilitate extensive further greenhouse gas pollution. We must press our Governor, our National and State legislators and all candidates for these offices to prevent this outrageous development by calling them, emailing them or writing at every opportunity to urge them to stand firm on our portion of the “thin green line.”

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