April 22: Earth Day 2013

It’s Earth Day; today is the anniversary of a green environmental movement that began in 1970. The movement has grown from 20 million participants to over 1 billion people who are committed to the planet we all call home. Prior to December 1970, there was no legal way to thwart environmental polluters until Congress authorised the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to handle environmental issues. Today is the day many of us do what should be done all year around: we pay attention to the Earth, give thanks for the abundant but finite resources, and we seek ways to stem the tide of environmental destruction.

Earth Day 2013
Coincidentally, today is the last day to submit comments on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. The State Department will soon decide on the Keystone Pipeline, and they are set to close the public comment period today.

At this point, every reasonable explanation as to why the Keystone XL would be a disaster for this country and the world has been presented. Few naysayers and monied interests don’t see clearly that the potential devastation from this gigantic pipeline includes: the destruction of two dozen rivers and the homes of approximately twenty species. Additionally, the pipeline would transport across the U.S. on a daily basis up to 35 million gallons of oil from Canada’s “tar sands” which are among the filthiest and most climate-hostile fuels on the planet.

Two tar sand spills have occurred in the past weeks, pouring 84,000 gallons of the dirty oil into Arkansas backyards. A residential neighbourhood was evacuated after a rupture in a nearby Exxon pipeline led to heavy bitumen crude oil flowing through their streets. The cause of the rupture is still unknown, which makes it all the more dangerous as future damages can’t be prevented when causes are unknown. But one thing is known:  we have already seen what happens when oil and gas companies dodge safety regulations and cut corners in order to increase the bottom line. The British Petroleum mess on the Gulf Coast proves that.

True to the roots and activism that created Earth Day, Tar Sands Blockade activists have exposed that sections of the pipeline already have cracks but those aren’t the only cracks evident. Cracks in the legal system are apparent as well; special interest groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are pushing state legislation to block renewable energy policies and they even go so far as to push to promote teaching climate denial in public schools.

The EPA recently announced historic new standards to reduce soot, smog and other dangerous pollution that spews from the tailpipes of our cars and trucks but the battle for clean air and water is far from over.

Take some time to celebrate Earth Day every day; the planet depends on it.