A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

From Feminists Fighting Transphobia:  http://feministsfightingtransphobia.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/a-statement-of-trans-inclusive-feminism/#comment-37

A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

We, the undersigned trans* and cis scholars, writers, artists, and educators, want to publicly and openly affirm our commitment to a trans*-inclusive feminism and womanism.

There has been a noticeable increase in transphobic feminist activity this summer: the forthcoming book by Sheila Jeffreys from Routledge; the hostile and threatening anonymous letter sent to Dallas Denny after she and Dr. Jamison Green wrote to Routledge regarding their concerns about that book; and the recent widely circulated statement entitled “Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Critique of ‘Gender,’” signed by a number of prominent, and we regret to say, misguided, feminists have been particularly noticeable.  And all this is taking place in the climate of virulent mainstream transphobia that has emerged following the coverage of Chelsea Manning’s trial and subsequent statement regarding her gender identity, and the recent murders of young trans women of color, including Islan Nettles and Domonique Newburn, the latest targets in a long history of violence against trans women of color.  Given these events, it is important that we speak out in support of feminism and womanism that support trans* people.

We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.

Transphobic feminism ignores the identification of many trans* and genderqueer people as feminists or womanists and many cis feminists/womanists with their trans* sisters, brothers, friends, and lovers; it is feminism that has too often rejected them, and not the reverse. It ignores the historical pressures placed by the medical profession on trans* people to conform to rigid gender stereotypes in order to be “gifted” the medical aid to which they as human beings are entitled.  By positing “woman” as a coherent, stable identity whose boundaries they are authorized to police, transphobic feminists reject the insights of intersectional analysis, subordinating all other identities to womanhood and all other oppressions to patriarchy.  They are refusing to acknowledge their own power and privilege.

We recognize that transphobic feminists have used violence and threats of violence against trans* people and their partners and we condemn such behavior.  We recognize that transphobic rhetoric has deeply harmful effects on trans* people’s real lives; witness CeCe MacDonald’s imprisonment in a facility for men.  We further recognize the particular harm transphobia causes to trans* people of color when it combines with racism, and the violence it encourages.

When feminists exclude trans* women from women’s shelters, trans* women are left vulnerable to the worst kinds of violent, abusive misogyny, whether in men’s shelters, on the streets, or in abusive homes.  When feminists demand that trans* women be excluded from women’s bathrooms and that genderqueer people choose a binary-marked bathroom, they make participation in the public sphere near-impossible, collaborate with a rigidity of gender identities that feminism has historically fought against, and erect yet another barrier to employment.  When feminists teach transphobia, they drive trans* students away from education and the opportunities it provides.

We also reject the notion that trans* activists’ critiques of transphobic bigotry “silence” anybody.  Criticism is not the same as silencing. We recognize that the recent emphasis on the so-called violent rhetoric and threats that transphobic feminists claim are coming from trans* women online ignores the 40+ – year history of violent and eliminationist rhetoric directed by prominent feminists against trans* women, trans* men, and genderqueer people.  It ignores the deliberate strategy of certain well-known anti-trans* feminists of engaging in gleeful and persistent harassment, baiting, and provocation of trans* people, particularly trans* women, in the hope of inciting angry responses, which are then utilized to paint a false portrayal of trans* women as oppressors and cis feminist women as victims. It ignores the public outing of trans* women that certain transphobic feminists have engaged in regardless of the damage it does to women’s lives and the danger in which it puts them.  And it relies upon the pernicious rhetoric of collective guilt, using any example of such violent rhetoric, no matter the source — and, just as much, the justified anger of any one trans* woman — to condemn all trans* women, and to justify their continued exclusion and the continued denial of their civil rights.

Whether we are cis, trans*, binary-identified, or genderqueer, we will not let feminist or womanist discourse regress or stagnate; we will push forward in our understandings of gender, sex, and sexuality across disciplines.  While we respect the great achievements and hard battles fought by activists in the 1960s and 1970s, we know that those activists are not infallible and that progress cannot stop with them if we hope to remain intellectually honest, moral, and politically effective.  Most importantly, we recognize that theories are not more important than real people’s real lives; we reject any theory of gender, sex, or sexuality that calls on us to sacrifice the needs of any subjugated or marginalized group.  People are more important than theory.

We are committed to making our classrooms, our writing, and our research inclusive of trans* people’s lives.

Signed by:


Hailey K. Alves (blogger and transfeminist activist, Brazil)

Luma Andrade  (Federal University of Ceará, Brazil)

Leiliane Assunção (Federal University of the Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil)

Talia Bettcher (California State University, Los Angeles)

Lauren Beukes (novelist)

Lindsay Beyerstein (journalist)

Jamie “Skye” Bianco (New York University)

Hanne Blank (writer and historian)

Kate Bornstein (writer and activist)

danah boyd (Microsoft research and New York University)

Helen Boyd (author and activist)

Sarah Brown (LGBT+ Liberal Democrats)

Christine Burns (equalities consultant, blogger and campaigner)

Liliane Anderson Reis Caldeira (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Gloria Careaga (UNAM/National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Avedon Carol (activist and writer; Feminists Against Censorship)

Wendy Chapkis (University of Southern Maine) – “I don’t love the punch line ‘people are more important than theory.’  More to the point, it seems to me, is that feminist theories that fail to recognize the lived experiences and revolutionary potential of gender diversity are willfully inadequate.”

Jan Clausen (writer, MFAW faculty, Goddard College)

Darrah Cloud (playwright and screenwriter; Goddard College)

Alyson Cole (Queens College – CUNY)

Arrianna Marie Coleman (writer and activist)

Suzan Cooke (writer and photographer)

Sonia Onufer Correa  (feminist research associate at ABIA, co-chair of Sexuality Policy Watch)

Molly Crabapple (artist and writer)

Petra Davis (writer and activist)

Elizabeth Dearnley (University College London)

Jaqueline Gomes de Jesus (University of Brasilia, Brazil)

Sady Doyle (writer and blogger)

L. Timmel Duchamp (publisher, Aqueduct Press)

Flavia Dzodan (writer and media maker)

Reni Eddo-Lodge (writer and activist)

Finn Enke (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Hugh English (Queens College – CUNY)

Jane Fae (writer and activist)

Roderick Ferguson (University of Minnesota)

Jill Filipovic (writer and blogger)

Rose Fox (editor and activist)

Jaclyn Friedman (author, activist, and executive director of Women, Action, & the Media)

Sasha Garwood (University College, London)

Jen Jack Gieseking (Bowdoin College)

Dominique Grisard (CUNY Graduate Center/Columbia University/University of Basel)

Deborah Gussman (Richard Stockton College of New Jersey)

Dr Sally Hines (University of Leeds)

Claire House (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Brazil)

Astrid Idlewild (editor, urban historian)

Sarah Hoem Iversen (Bergen University College, Norway)

Sarah Jaffe (columnist)

Roz Kaveney (author and critic)

Zahira Kelly (artist and writer)

Mikki Kendall (writer and occasional feminist)

Natacha Kennedy (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Alison Kilkenny (journalist and activist)

Matthew Knip (Hunter College – CUNY)

Letícia Lanz (writer and psychoanalyst, Brazil)

April Lidinsky (Indiana University South Bend)

Erika Lin (George Mason University)

Marilee Lindemann (University of Maryland)

Heather Love (University of Pennsylvania)

Jessica W. Luther (writer and activist)

Jen Manion (Connecticut College)

Ruth McClelland-Nugent (Georgia Regents University Augusta)

Melissa McEwan (Editor-in-Chief, Shakesville)

Farah Mendlesohn (Anglia Ruskin University)

Mireille Miller-Young (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Lyndsey Moon (University of Roehampton and University of Warwick)

Surya Monro (University of Huddersfield)

Cheryl Morgan (publisher and blogger)

Kenne Mwikya (writer and activist, Nairobi)

Zenita Nicholson (Secretary on the Board of Trustees, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Guyana)

Anne Ogborn (frightening sex change)

Sally Outen (performer and activist)

Ruth Pearce (University of Warwick)

Laurie Penny (journalist and activist)

Rosalind Petchesky (Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, and Sexuality Policy Watch)

Rachel Pollack (writer, Goddard College)

Claire Bond Potter (The New School for Public Engagement)

Nina Power (University of Roehampton)

Marina Riedel (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)

Mark Rifkin (University of North Carolina – Greensboro)

Monica Roberts (Transgriot)

Dr. Judy Rohrer (Western Kentucky University)

Diana Salles (independent scholar)

Veronica Schanoes (Queens College – CUNY)

Sarah Schulman, in principle (College of Staten Island – CUNY)

Donald M. Scott (Queens College – CUNY)

Lynne Segal (Birkbeck, University of London)

Julia Serano (author and activist)

Carrie D. Shanafelt (Grinnell College)

Rebekah Sheldon (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis)

Barbara Simerka (Queens College – CUNY)

Gwendolyn Ann Smith (columnist and Transgender Day of Remembrance founder)

Kari Sperring (K L Maund) (writer and historian)

Zoe Stavri (writer and activist)

Tristan Taormino (Sex Out Loud Radio, New York, NY)

Jemma Tosh (University of Chester)

Viviane V. (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil)

Catherynne M. Valente (author)

Jessica Valenti (author and columnist)

Genevieve Valentine (writer)

Barbra Wangare (S.H.E and Transitioning Africa, Kenya)

Thijs Witty (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)


Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ (Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia)

House of Najafgarh (Najafgarh, India)

House of Kola Bhagan (Kolkatta, India)

Transgender Nation San Francisco

[See http://feministsfightingtransphobia.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/welcome-to-our-most-recent-signatories/ for our newest signatories, as of the end of the day on September 16, 2013]

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T.E.R.F.s: Exclusionists of Exterminationists? Time to Point Out How They are Calling for the Elimination of TS/TG People.

Over the last few months the acronym TERF has become popular among many transactivists.

I have heard it stands for: Trans Excluding Radical Feminists.

That reading is somewhat problematic.  It presumes that the Radical Feminists merely want to exclude trans-women from places like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and certain conferences.

Noxious and offensive as that form of exclusion might be it is a big world and there are places we can go, events and festivals who have never heard of such a hateful, bigoted form of exclusion.

Indeed most transsexual and transgender people could lead full and happy lives without ever having anything to do with these few festivals and conferences.

Don’t want me or my people at you festival… Okay… Piss off, I have other festivals I can go to with much better music.  Places where I’m welcome.  It’s not like it is fun hanging out with a bunch of bigots worrying if some have read my writing and know I’m trans.

As for conferences. Unless I’m comped in I can’t afford conferences.  After the 1970s they got so expensive that I’ve been to exactly one since 1980 and that was “Forward Motion, an F to M Conference nearly fifteen years ago.

So exclusion isn’t a big deal.

The TERFs are not about exclusion.  They don’t want TS/TG folks excluded.  They want us eliminated.  they want us exterminated.

Don’t believe me.  Read their fucking literature.  Start with Raymond.  Then the viper from Australia, Sheila Jeffreys.

The ideology of Gender and Transgender is pretty damned sketchy at best and down right cultish at times.  I don’t generally buy into it.  I figure that like gay and lesbian people we are born this way. End of story.  There shouldn’t be a need for TS/TG people to explain why or a requirement that we show some sort of proof of our having been born this way.

Our rights and claims of equality should be treated as inalienable, just as everyone no matter sex, race, sexuality.

I for one have never really been able to figure out what “Radical Feminists” stand for.  Mainly they seem to stand in the negative as opposition to so many things including heterosexuality.

John Irving pretty much nailed them in The World According To Garp.  Look up the Ellen Jamisons.  A group of Radical feminists who cut out their own tongues in solidarity with a woman who was raped and had her tongue cut out.

They deny being essentialists yet are such believers in total genetically determined absolutism as to make the authors of those silly books about women being from Venus and men from Mars look like total gender abolitionists.

All gender is the product of indoctrination during which male infants and female infants are raised in absolute isolation from each other and are never exposed to anything that might allow them to adopt anything supposedly designated for the other sex.

The TERFs engage in incredible blood libels.

All trans-women are sexual predators who only want to use the women’s rest room to rape is but one of those blood libels.

They are absolutely shameless in applying that blood libel.  They even place it upon five and six year old transkids.

Heaven forbid those children be allowed to transition and have the same sort of youth and early life experiences normborn kids have.

They perpetuate the Big Green Lie.  Dr. Richard Green ran an anti-sissy boy “reparative therapy” program.  The one that made the sketch claim that the sissy boys he treated were cured and didn’t grow up TS/TG.  Of course there never seemed to be any sort of long term follow up study that may have included data on suicides or folks coming out in middle age.

According to TERFs transkids should receive reparative therapy that will help them to adjust to being their birth sex and its essential gender rather than assistance in transitioning at a young age.

Ever since I came out nearly 45 years ago I have listened to these creeps imagine away my right to exist.

One of their biggest lies is that in a less gender/sex role constricted world transsexual and transgender people wouldn’t exist.

They also perpetuate the big lie that we are mentally ill and therefore should not receive medical assistance that furthers our “fantasy.”

Basically one gets the impression from reading “Gendertrender” and other “RadFem” blogs and books that they would cheerfully put us in camps and exterminate us.

That my friends is not Exclusionist.  that is Exterminationist.

Critics can’t decide if feminists hate sex or are having too much of it

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/06/sweetening-the-pill-book-sets-women-back

Here we go again, another book is trying to tell women birth control is bad and that we should go back to living in the 1950s

theguardian.com, Friday 6 September 2013

When it comes to sex, feminists get a bad (and confusing) rep. We’re both man-haters and whores, unmarryable spinsters and family-destroyers. We purportedly want to outlaw pornography while encouraging adolescent girls to get on the pill. We’re hideous hairy-legged lesbians, and we’re using undergraduate Women’s Studies programs to turn your daughter bisexual. We’re promiscuous oversexed sluts, and we’re angry femi-Nazis because we’re not getting laid.

Critics can’t decide if feminists hate sex or are having too much of it.

Feminists, at least for the past decade or so, have been relatively consistent when it comes to sexual activity: it should be consensual and shame-free, and all women and men should have access to sexual health information and contraceptive methods that work best for them. There are still debates about issues like porn and prostitution, but the basic framework of “consensual, shame-free, informed” sees little challenge within feminist circles.

Disturbingly, a small number of “women’s empowerment” writers want that to change. They’re latching on to right-wing talking points about gender roles, female sexuality and even medicine while claiming the banner of feminism.

One is Holly Grigg-Spall, author of the book Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control. The birth control pill, by which Grigg-Spall means all hormonal birth control, is, according to Grigg-Spall, part of a capitalist patriarchal model to keep women functioning as worker bees and sex objects. It’s the same argument that pro-life activists have used for decades: The pill only makes women sexually available to men, the pill blocks a woman’s natural femininity, true empowerment means going off the pill and using fertility awareness.

For all the finger-wagging about how hormonal birth control disempowers women, history tell a different story. What’s clear is that the pill did usher in a gender revolution, and moved women’s equality forward at an astounding pace.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first birth control pill in 1960. By 1965, it was the contraception method of choice for American women. Suddenly, sex didn’t have to come along with anxiety and fear of pregnancy. Women could meet their very natural, very human desires for sex without having their education, careers and lives derailed by unintended pregnancy. The truth is that the average age of sexual initiation hasn’t changed much over the past century; most people become sexually active by their late teens. With many women both fertile and sexually active into their 30s and 40s, life before the pill often meant choosing between sexual anxiety or no sex at all, and between a fully-realized career and motherhood. After the pill, women could increasingly have both.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/06/sweetening-the-pill-book-sets-women-back

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Japan’s Last Nuclear Reactor Switched Off For Inspection With No Plans To Restart

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/japan-last-nuclear-reactor_n_3932362.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

By Shingo Ito
Japan went nuclear-free on Monday as it switched off its last operating reactor for an inspection, with no date scheduled for a restart amid strong public hostility to atomic power.

Kansai Electric Power took offline the No. 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in the western prefecture of Fukui at 1:33 am (1633 GMT Sunday) “without any problems,” said a company official.

The move left the world’s third largest economy without atomic energy for the second time since the Fukushima nuclear crisis erupted in March 2011.

Nuclear power supplied about one-third of the resource-poor nation’s electricity before a tsunami knocked out cooling systems and sparked meltdowns at Fukushima, causing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has openly backed a return to the widespread use of atomic energy, but the public remains divided over his support, with opponents concerned on safety grounds.

Japan previously was without any nuclear energy in May 2012, when all of the country’s 50 commercial reactors stopped for checkups in the wake of the disaster.

Utilities were unable immediately to restart them due to public opposition.

It was the first time in more than four decades that Japan had been without nuclear power.

Government officials and utilities voiced concern at the time that Japan could face major blackouts without nuclear power, particularly in the western region that relied heavily on nuclear energy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/japan-last-nuclear-reactor_n_3932362.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

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Colorado’s Thousand-Year Flood

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/16

Repeated assaults culminate with epic floods in Colorado

On Sunday morning I read more rain will fall in Colorado throughout the day. It could affect rescue efforts and further soak the land that could result in more flash floods. I decide to write.Last Thursday as the devastation was unfolding I wrote all day and evening. I ended the piece “Boulder Flooding” with these words: Will the death and devastation from this week’s flood in Colorado simply pass us by as a mere spectacle?

There is now a sincere effort to understand what’s happening. Last Thursday when Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle commented, “it is not your ordinary disaster,” he said what he saw, but didn’t apprehend the full scope of this catastrophic flood.

I’ll share a bit about science first, and then open the subject up towards a socio-psychological analysis.

After “Boulder Flooding” was published on Friday, I received numerous comments from readers, including from several Coloradoans. One comment that many of them shared was this: The TV is certainly covering the event and showing the devastation, but no television journalist is raising the question if global warming played any part in causing (or amplifying) this flood. I don’t have TV, but if their assertion is true then it’d be yet another example of the lack of critical analysis in American journalism.

In my last piece I had mentioned artists’ role in addressing the climate crisis by discussing Mary Miss’ 2007 outdoor installation “Connect the Dots” in Boulder. Working with scientists Mary had made visible the high water mark of a 500-year flood in the Boulder Creek. Last Thursday, based on rain data from the National Weather Service, Joe Pelle had said that the current deluge in Boulder is a 100-year flood.

A 100-year flood is defined as a flood that has a 1% probability of occurring in any given year. It is expressed in terms of flow rate: “Based on the expected 100-year flood flow rate in a given creek, river or surface water system, the flood water level can be mapped as an area of inundation” (Wikipedia). Thinking in terms of the flow rate clears up the misconception that in a given century only once such a flood would take place in a particular river/creek.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/16

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Chicken is killing the planet

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/16/chicken_is_killing_the_planet/

Processed chicken is already bad for the environment, workers, and consumers — and it’s about to get a lot worse

Monday, Sep 16, 2013

Earlier this month, while you were busy sneaking out of your empty office, hoping nobody would notice your starting the holiday weekend early, the USDA was also doing something it was hoping nobody would notice. It was green lighting the sale of Chinese processed American chicken.  As POLITICO explained, “U.S. officials have given the thumbs-up to four Chinese poultry plants, paving the way for the country to send processed chicken to American markets.” But while, “at first, China will only be able to process chicken that has been slaughtered in the U.S. or other certified countries,” that should not be a comfort to fans of the McNugget, Campbell’s chicken soup, or any other processed chicken product.

To start, that a chicken was born and bred on U.S. soil is no guarantee of its quality. It is, however, a good indicator of several other things, starting with the bird’s short, miserable life. The vast majority of the eight billion chickens eaten in the U.S. every year are raised in cages too small for them to spread their wings, fed a diet laden with arsenic and antibiotics, and packed into barns so full of birds, feathers, and feces, that, as we learned last week, an employee could literally get shot in one without anyone even noticing.

Don’t be comforted by the fact that chicken was processed in the U.S. either.  Between slaughter and nugget-ization, chicken carcasses endure a host of perversions, making chicken less of a food and more of a food-like substance. They are injected with saltwater solutions to add weight and taste. Their bodies are mechanically separated through a processed called “Advanced Meat Recovery,” stripping the meat off leftover bones and turning it into the poultry version of pink slime.  The resulting goop will be washed in ammonia to kill its bacteria population. It will then be cooked into something tasty and sold to you, the unwitting customer. And yes, this process does actually impact the food on your plate: According to a 2009 USDA study, eighty-seven percent of chicken cadavers test positive for E. coli, feces’ favorite bacteria, just before they are packaged and sent to a store near you.

But Big Chicken doesn’t just exploit the animals – the environment and its employees suffer as well.  According to a 2011 Pew study, modern day chicken farming pollutes the water, the air, and the soil. Chicken manure finds its way into everything nearby, oversaturating the land and water with phosphorous and nitrogen, depleting them of oxygen and killing aquatic life.  Industry tycoons Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms have both been accused of outsourcing their labor, turning “what were once good-paying positions” into “near-poverty-level jobs.”  Perdue defended its practices to Salon, noting that it “was among the last of the poultry companies” to outsource, and that “affected associates were able to apply for positions elsewhere” within the company.  Tyson offered a similar response, adding that outsourcing certain positions is “common practice in the poultry industry.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/16/chicken_is_killing_the_planet/

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President Obama: Reject Keystone XL, Promote Clean Energy

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-redford/keystone-pipeline-clean-energy_b_3933812.html


The Keystone XL and tar sands expansion have no place in a clean energy future

I can understand why oil companies love tar sands. There is a lot of money to be made by strip mining and drilling the dirtiest oil on the planet.

The oil industry is lobbying hard for President Obama’s approval to let the Keystone XL pipeline cross our border and move a river of tar sands to the Gulf Coast, where much of it will be shipped overseas. But why should the rest of us pay the price so that the oil companies can line their pockets?

Developing the Canadian tar sands is destroying our continent’s great northern forest at a terrifying rate. It is producing enough carbon pollution to wreak havoc with our climate for decades to come. And the pipelines that carry this dirty fuel are a direct threat to our nation’s own drinking water supplies.

If you ask me, tar sands oil is exactly the type of dirty oil we can no longer afford. It may be great for oil companies, but it is killing our planet. There is no energy security in that.

resident Obama has promised to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline if it will drive significantly more global warming pollution and more climate chaos. We have clear and compelling evidence that the Keystone XL fails the President’s climate test. We already know that tar sands development causes more carbon pollution than conventional oil. And now a slew of experts from industry insiders to financial analysts all agree that the Keystone XL is the linchpin for Big Oil’s plan to more than triple tar sands production over the next 20 years — and the climate disruption that will follow.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-redford/keystone-pipeline-clean-energy_b_3933812.html

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Neil Young: Tar Sands Fields ‘Look Like Hiroshima’

From Common Dreams:  https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/09/10-4

Singer says tar sands development left Fort McMurray a ‘wasteland’ that is ‘truly a disaster’

Jacob Chamberlain

Fresh off a trip to Canada’s tar sands oil fields in Alberta, famed singer Neil Young spoke out at a conference in Washington, DC on Monday against the controversial oil extraction and its export through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, calling Fort McMurray, the town nearest Alberta’s vast tar sands, a “wasteland.”

“This is truly a disaster,” said Young, painting a dire picture in which the people, land and animals of the region are greatly suffering.


“The fuel’s all over – the fumes everywhere – you can smell it when you get to town,” Young recalled. “The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray. People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”


“Yeah it’s going to put a lot of people to work,” Young said of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is slated to transport the excavated tar sands to export terminals in Texas and Louisiana. “I’ve heard that, and I’ve seen a lot of people that would dig a hole that’s so deep that they couldn’t get out of it, and that’s a job too, and I think that’s the jobs that we are talking about there with the Keystone pipeline,” he said.


“The fact is, Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima,” said Young. “Fort McMurray is a wasteland. … All of the First Nations people up there are threatened by this. Their food supply is wasted. Their treaties are no good. They have a right to live on the land that they always did but there’s no land left that they can live on. All the animals are dying. This is truly a disaster.”


“Neil Young is speaking for all of us fighting to stop the Keystone XL,” Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska, a coalition of landowners and others opposed to the $5.3-billion Keystone XL pipeline, told the Globe and Mail.  “When you see the pollution already caused by the reckless expansion of tar sands, you only have one choice and that is to act.”


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