Youth Climate Activists To Secretary of State Clinton: Say No To Tar Sands

Youth climate activists struck again last week, calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to stop the proposed Alberta Clipper pipeline that would “suck filthy tar sands into the U.S.” from Canada.

Last Friday, the Avaaz Action Factory, a loose-knit group of youth climate activists, set up an action hero showdown complete with a tar sands monster lurking in a kiddie pool full of ‘tar sands mixture’ outside the front doors of the State Department.  Costumed oil industry reps tried to convince Clinton to approve the pipeline while ‘Mother Earth’ and the U.S. and Canada stood in front of a bedsheet painted to represent a Canadian Boreal forest which would face destruction if the pipeline is approved. 

The activists hoped to demonstrate to the State Department “just how terrible the oil sands are, and how much of a climate hero Clinton can be.”

Nearby Avaaz activists held up a big banner stating: “Clinton be a Leader. Say No to Tar Sands.  Stop Global Warming.”

The mock showdown must have looked pretty funny to bleary-eyed State employees showing up for the Friday workday, but the message Avaaz was delivering is deadly serious.

It is up to the Obama Administration, specifically Secretary of State Clinton, to determine whether or not allowing Canadian company Enbridge to build the proposed pipeline would “serve the national interest.”

As the Avaaz protestors point out, the Alberta Clipper Pipeline would lengthen U.S. reliance on fossil fuels for decades to come. “A major piece of infrastructure will make it that much harder to phase out the use of dirty fossil fuels, which is one of the reasons the backers of this project are pushing so hard to get this through without even a public debate,” according to

The 1,000-mile pipeline, if built, will transport crude tar sands oil from Alberta’s oil sand deposits all the way to Superior, Wisconsin where Midwest refineries would process it for years to come, locking in more fossil fuel pollution and doing nothing to stop U.S. oil addiction.

That would hardly square with the Obama administration’s stated commitment to ending America’s addiction to foreign oil and ushering in a new era of renewable energy security.

Canada’s oil sands are among the dirtiest sources of fuel globally, and rank up there with offshore Arctic oil and “ultra deepwater” oil as the most ill conceived sources of energy ever contemplated.

Greenpeace, PLATFORM and Oil Change International released a report this weekend predicting that Big Oil companies’ increasing reliance on dirty tar sands could very well drive their industry into economic ruin, bringing investors along for the ride.

Hopefully Secretary Clinton and the rest of the Obama Administration will recognize the near- and longer-term risks of pursuing dirty tar sands development.  Canceling the Enbridge Clipper Pipeline would go a long way toward demonstrating that resolve.

Watch the Avaaz action at

Read the Greenpeace report “Rising Risks” [PDF].


First, thanks for the great post.

Update: on Tuesday of this week, emailed their entire US list with a call to action to email the state department and have clinton vote no on the issue.

The other big fallacy is that exploiting the oil sands is unambiguously good for the economy in the long run.

When you factor in the damage to ecosystems and the added risk of catastrophic climate change, it is likely that exploiting the oil sands destroys wealth - even as defined through the narrow prism of long-term GDP.