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ConWatch Fall 2011

ConWatch Fall 2011

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Issues of interest on a variety of environmental topics.
Issues of interest on a variety of environmental topics.

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Published by: The Garden Club of America on Nov 13, 2011
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02/14/2012

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Conservation Watch
A Publication of the Garden Club of AmericaVolume XXI, Issue 1 Fall 2011
“The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not theother way around.” 
Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day Founder 
Keystone XL Pipeline Pressure
Barbara Geltosky, The Gardeners (PA) – Zone V Vice Chairman, GCA National Affairs and Legislation, Energy Sources
There has been significant news coverage surrounding the proposed $7 billion KeystoneXL Oil Pipeline, which would cross six states and travel through environmentallysensitive areas, bringing diluted bitumen from the tar sands of western Canada to thesoutheastern U.S. It presents a huge U.S./Canadian business opportunity, but greenactivists have condemned the project, resulting in perhaps the biggest display of civildisobedience in 30 years. Environmentalists are putting pressure on President Obamato deny the permit for the pipeline, which would effectively double U.S. oil sandimports. Over 1200 people were arrested for protesting at the White House, includingNASA Scientist James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah, and Bill McKibben, who says “foronce, we have a chance of prevailing” to “stop…..this thing”.
 
Conservation Watch Fall 2011
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Why is everyone so worked up? First, the very process of producing crude from thebitumen-rich tar sands generates more lifecycle carbon emissions than conventional fuel.“If you were to fill a Prius with gasoline derived from tar sands, its carbon footprintwould be the same as a Hummer”, said former Vice President Al Gore. Furtherdevelopment of the tar sands project in Canada would necessitate cutting down 740,000acres of boreal forest, a huge carbon reservoir, which would cause even further climatedamage.Additionally, the refining process creates numerous corrosive substances that candamage the pipeline, thereby creating the potential for even more environmentalcatastrophes, which would be difficult to remediate. Oil sands are a mixture of sand,clay, various minerals and bitumen – a thick, sticky tar-like substance that must besteamed from the ground, and then diluted or “thinned” with natural gas so it can beeffectively transported through pipelines. Environmentalists argue that the dilutedbitumen or “dilbit” is far more corrosive to pipelines than conventional crude oil,because it is 15- 20x more acidic and 5-10x more sulfuric than conventional oil.Opponents also argue that the higher temperatures and increased pressure required totransport the more viscous dilbit, make the Keystone XL pipeline inherently moredangerous.Since the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) isunderstaffed and rarely issues fines, there is little hope for rigorous enforcement of pipeline safety, despite assurances from the Canadian developers that they will agree toadditional safety conditions.The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), issued August 26, 2011, states that therewould be minimal adverse environmental impact; however, the State Departmentrevealed that it would commission an independent safety study after consultation withthe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and PHMSA. During the 90-day reviewperiod, it is hoped that the EPA will expose any flaws in the EIS. Any spill would be atragedy, but the 50 year, 1700 mile pipeline traverses wildlife-breeding areas, wetlands,the Yellowstone River (where an oil spill has already occurred) and a number of significant aquifers, including the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest freshwater reservesin the world, serving eight states and millions of people.There is support for the pipeline, with advocates suggesting as many as 100,000 jobs willbe created, including 20,000 in the high-wage manufacturing sector. But these jobswould come at a price, because doubling the tar sands imports from Canada to the USwill generate between 3 million and 21 million metric tons of emissions per year, inaddition to the distressing prediction that much of the oil will be
exported
from Gulf Ports – a net loss for energy security advocates.And last but not least, the net effect of the pipeline may be to sacrifice air quality whileraising gas prices as the production shifts from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast and thesupply and cost of fuel can be manipulated. The potential for environmental damage andsignificant carbon emissions affecting climate change clearly does not balance with theneed for new sources of fossil fuel. It is not clear whether the President will approve the
 
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pipeline, but his “ green” base is clearly against it as a lose-lose proposition for climatechange and the environment.
[From the Editor: There is an interesting sideline to the merits of this issue, which could result inadditional hurdles for TransCanada even if the permit is approved. The Keystone XL pipelineprocess began in September 2008, when TransCanada applied for a Presidential Permit toauthorize construction. The presidential permitting authority is created by Executive Order. Thepermitting process requires State Department review because the pipeline connects the US to aforeign country. Permit approval requires a State Department determination that the pipeline is“in the national interest.” That determination includes analysis of the pipeline’s impact onforeign policy, economics and energy security. A national interest determination is expected by December 2011. If the permit is approved, there may be a legal challenge made to the permit process, or the presidential permitting authority.]
Marion Fuller Brown, 1917 – 2011In Memoriam
 Ann Coburn, Village Garden Club of Sewickley (PA) – Zone V Chair, GCA Conservation 1993-95, GCA National Affairs, 1995-97 
Marion Thompson Fuller Brown died on June 3rd at her beloved home in Maine, Ram’sHead Farm. She was a dynamic and unforgettable figure who worked tirelessly onconservation issues. A member of the Piscataqua Garden Club from 1948 until herdeath, she served three terms in the Maine state legislature from 1966 to 1972. Shewas perhaps best known nationally for sponsoring legislation in her home state of Mainebanning “off premises” billboards. In 1982 she helped to form the National Coalition toPreserve Scenic Beauty, now known as Scenic America. Open lands surrounding herhome were put under conservation easements, and an unspoiled half mile of York Rivershoreline was similarly designated.During her work with the Garden Club of America, she was Director of Zone 1, 1981-1983, and a member of the GCA Executive Committee, 1986-88. She served for manyyears on the GCA Conservation and National Affairs and Legislation Committees,where I was privileged to know her, to work with her and to benefit from herexperience, her drive, and her keen insights into the politics of conservation. Shereceived a major award from the GCA in 1980, the Amy Angell Collier Montague Medalfor outstanding civic achievement. She was one of those perceiving the need in the early1970’s for national advocacy by the GCA to strengthen its influence on environmentalpolicies. The National Affairs and Legislation Committee of GCA was foundedsubsequently by a small group of dedicated women, of which she was one. She servedas a member or advisor to that committee throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. Herfriends in Zone I established the Marion Fuller Brown Award, to be given at any fullzone meeting to an outstanding conservation exhibit.In addition to her work promoting scenic beauty, she was the prime sponsor of Maine’sreturnable bottle law and was a major supporter of Maine’s Clean Water and Clean Air

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