2014-02-14 / Letters

Debate was worse than thought

To the editor:

Like many of us in South Portland, I’m proud of the heroics of our residents and city council and I’m cheering for the new draft ordinance committee as it works to strike the right balance between our industrial needs and keeping tar sands out. However, I was devastated to learn just how dire this situation really is.

The tar sands mining in Canada is the largest industrial project in the history of mankind and it’s staggeringly destructive. Besides obliterating vast swaths of the boreal forest, a critical resource for carbon stabilization, the extraction process also produces high levels of carbon emissions and excessive amounts of toxic chemicals. For every barrel of oil produced, four barrels of fresh water are polluted with some of the most dangerous chemicals on the planet and dumped into unlined tailings ponds. These chemicals are seeping into water sources and poisoning people and wildlife. For those residing near the mines, one in seven pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

We already know we will, at some point, run out of oil. This means an innovative, job-filled industry will emerge in its place. Even if the negative side of tar sands were only half true, they are still too risky and too destructive to be an interim solution. As we’re working to keep tar sands out of South Portland, let’s also use our collective voices to demand a nationwide shift to safer resources now. Check out organizations such as 350.org, The Other 98%, and Oil Change International for inspiration.

Andrea Helm
South Portland

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