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Letters 2-17-2014

- February 17th, 2014  

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Tar Sands, Pipeline Opposition

Stephen Tuttle’s column titled "No Line in the Tar Sand" missed some key points. In describing the First Nation peoples of Canada as "appalled" by the tar sands mining understates their situation. Few of us would be simply "appalled" if our communities were deemed sacrifice zones. An analogy would be if Mr. Tuttle’s community’s access to food, clean water and shelter were eliminated forever.

The few billions in economic gain would be offset by the many billions of economic loss due to Keystone’s contribution to climate change.

It is helpful to understand the widespread opposition to the Keystone pipeline in the context of historical movements that drew "lines in the sand" and shifted the tide of history. To say that this extreme energy profiteering is inevitable is akin to saying you might as well accept slavery since it’s going to happen anyhow, or not allow women's rights since it's always been that way. The resistance to the Keystone XL saw the largest mass civil disobedience in the United States since the Civil Rights era. The resistance to tar sands is the harbinger of a global environmental rights movement that has groups on over 300 college campuses organizing fossil fuel divestment campaigns similar to those that helped topple apartheid in South Africa. The activities of mountain top coal removal, horizontal fracturing for methane, and mining of tar sands for oil will someday be universally seen as bizarre destructive practices from an era that was fixated on consumption instead of sustainability; on short term profit for a few, at the expense of a livable planet for all. Symbolic actions coupled with systemic changes are key steps to change, which will ultimately happen, new pipeline or not.

Gerard Grabowski • Bear Lake

Look Who is Behind the Attack Ads

Do you wonder who’s behind the negative ads aimed at the Democrats and Gary Peters, in particular? The DeVos family hides behind the following groups to peddle their bull… Action Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Council for National Policy, Federalist Society, Focus on the Family, Freedom Works Foundation, Heritage Foundation, Mackinaw Center for Public Policy, and the National Organization for Marriage.

Wake up citizens. These people want to control your lives. Just think, a few years ago they were soap salesmen. “Good” citizens don’t hide their names behind organizations like some people are doing.

David Petty • Charlevoix

No to Proposed Air Walk in Kasson Township

The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “irresponsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” The proposed ecotourism park by developer Mark Evans designed with an air walk and observation areas that will scale the ridgeline of an 83-acre parcel of property on residential Fritz Road is a fancy packaging scheme to line Mr. Evans’ pockets with millions of dollars. It is hard to imagine how this theme park would improve my well being and the well being of those who reside in this quiet neighborhood - people who cherish and respect the surrounding pristine wilderness, wildlife and serenity that enhances our lives daily.

As much as I would like to be openminded, all I see is an influx of traffic. Evans’ goal is to attract 150,000 people annually. One hundred and fifty thousand people traveling by car, tour bus and motorcycle to an eco-attraction in this neighborhood is nothing short of a nightmare. The potential outcomes from the swell of human traffic include, but are not limited to, an increase in human and vehicular noise, traffic problems, road deterioration and the emissions of noxious pollutants. Sound travels. Noise pollutes. Noise disturbs the peace. Noise frightens wildlife and affects the delicate balance of the natural world we cherish. Noxious pollutants impact the health of trees, plants, water sources, air quality, wildlife and people. I value where I live, and am grateful for the National Park that provides opportunities for locals and tourists to experience the beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In my opinion the 150,000 people Mr. Evans wants to create an eco experience for would be better served by the National Park.

JoAnna Pepe • Kasson Township

Consumer Alert

What a wonderful movie the "The Dallas Buyers Club" is, sure to win awards for acting. It may have brought to light some of the failures of our Food and Drug Administration as well. And we now learn that the chemical, azodicarbonamide, used in yoga mats and shoe soles, was approved by the FDA for use in breads and cereal flours to enhance freshness. That it was approved with the knowledge that azodicarbonamide causes respiratory illness and is banned in Europe and Australia makes one wonder who our FDA really works for. It is time to ban this chemical and demand that the people who pushed this one through pay for their greed and incompetence in protecting the American people. Immediately though please read all labels on breads, cereals and other wheat products and do not buy anything with azodicarbonamide.

Barbara McIntyre, Ph.D., ATR-BC, LPC Traverse City

We Need a Carbon Tax

Stephen Tuttle’s recent piece “No Line in the Tar Sands” describes some of the valid arguments for and against the Keystone XL pipeline. He then concludes with what he calls the two most salient facts. First, with regard to ongoing development of Alberta’s dirty oil --”The economic prize is simply too great to ignore.” Second, that in order to have the fossil fuel based products we routinely use, precursors must be delivered somehow -- whether by pipeline, rail or truck tanker.

Alright. We could just accept these points, resign ourselves to the inevitability of the KXL and endure the consequences. But the scientific consensus is in. If we continue to burn fossil fuels, it will be at our peril. We don’t need another pipeline. We need a carbon tax to drive the transition to clean energy. And most salient of all, we need to ask ourselves whether there exists any conceivable “economic prize” or any product whatsoever that is more valuable to us than our own children’s future in a livable world.

Sarah Campbell • Frankfort

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