Grassroots Tell Governors: Keep Out Tar Sands!

Jenny Rushlow

New England citizens have been sending a strong message to their governors: block the looming invasion of dirty tar sands-derived fuels from their states, and do it now.  Recently, citizens sent more than 5,000 letters in Massachusetts and more than 1,300 letters in Vermont to Governors Patrick and Shumlin, asking the Governors to block tar sands-derived fuels from their states. If used in gasoline and home-heating oil, tar sands-derived fuels would worsen carbon pollution and hasten climate change.

With new pipelines coming on line, there is a looming threat of dirty fuels such as tar sands dramatically worsening the carbon footprint of gasoline in New England.  While we currently have almost no tar sands in our local fuel supply right now, that is expected to drastically change in the near future: by 2020, as much as 18% of our fuel supply could be derived from tar sands, increasing our greenhouse gas emissions enough to offset the noteworthy gains achieved through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  This threat will take New England states backwards in efforts to combat climate change at a time when instead we need to be embracing clean fuels like electric vehicles. In light of this threat, citizens as well as civic and business leaders are calling on their governors to take immediate action on clean fuels policies and keep tar sands out of the region.

Civic and business leaders in Massachusetts recently held a press conference at the Lenox Hotel in Boston, announcing that citizens sent more than 5,000 to Governor Patrick calling for action against dirty fuels.  An influx of tar sands in Massachusetts could offset the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the emissions reductions mandates of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act, our participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and recent efforts to spur consumer adoption of electric vehicles. At the event, CLF was joined by representatives of climate action groups Better Future Project and Mothers Out Front as well as members of the business community — Tedd Saunders, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Saunders Hotel Group, and Kathleen Connors, Founder and CEO of Voltrek, an electric vehicle charging infrastructure provider.  We were also joined by Massachusetts Senator Marc Pacheco, a strong voice for clean energy in Massachusetts.  The speakers’ message was clear: Massachusetts has been a leader in developing clean energy policies, but those gains will be wiped out if we don’t take action; now is the time for Governor Patrick to support policies that will support clean fuels and keep Massachusetts tar sands free.

In Vermont, leaders in the environmental community recently sent a similar message to Governor Shumlin.  CLF was joined by Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Sierra Club, 350.org, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and Vermont Public Interest Research Group in sending a letter to Governor Shumlin calling attention to the recent grassroots support and calling on his Administration to take action before an influx of dirty fuels offsets Vermont’s recent clean energy gains.

Our states must take action to avoid this looming disaster.  Join CLF by calling on your governors, gubernatorial candidates, and legislators to take action against dirty tar sands-derived fuels, and support the clean energy economy!

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