Rainforest Action Network Releases Seventy-Foot Banner Over Niagara Falls to 'Welcome' Prime Minister Harper to the U.S.

For Immediate Release


Nell Greenberg, 510.847.9777;
Eriel Deranger, 587.785.1558

Rainforest Action Network Releases Seventy-Foot Banner Over Niagara Falls to 'Welcome' Prime Minister Harper to the U.S.

Banner: Canadian Tar Sands Oil Undermines North America's Clean Energy Future

NIAGARA FALLS - Three concerned U.S. citizens have just released a vivid 70-foot
banner above the Niagara Falls. Just one day before Prime Minister
Harper's first official visit to the U.S. to meet with President Obama,
the banner is intended to call attention to Harper's efforts to lock up
the U.S. market for tar sands oil, and the threat tar sands holds for
the climate. Against the dramatic Niagara Falls background, the most
well recognized border between the U.S. and Canada, the banner is
intended to send the message that Canadian tar sands oil threatens
North America's clean energy future. The banner reads: clean energy
future with an arrow pointing in one direction, and tar sands oil with
an arrow pointing in the other.   

During Harper's first official trip to meet Obama in the
U.S., the two leaders are expected to discuss climate change and energy
policy ahead of the upcoming G20 Summit. Canada supplies 19% of U.S.
oil imports, more than half of which now comes from the tar sands,
making the region the largest single source of U.S. oil imports.
Unconventional tar sands oil is derived from lower-grade, difficult and
expensive-to-access raw materials that have enormous consequences for
air quality, drinking water and the climate.
"Tar sands oil, the dirtiest oil on Earth, has no place in
our clean energy future," said Brant Olson, director of the tar sands
campaign for the Rainforest Action Network. "President Obama's meeting
with Prime Minister Harper will be a moment of truth. Is President
Obama serious about moving the country toward a clean energy economy or
will he allow pollution to be piped in from Canada?"
Tar sands oil has serious environmental, climate and human
health impacts. Described by the United Nations Environment Program as
one of the world's top "environmental hot spots," global warming
pollution from tar sands production is three times that of conventional
crude oil.
Tomorrow's visit to the U.S. by Prime Minister Harper is
the latest attempt by Canadian Federal and Provincial officials to lock
in subsidies for 22 new and expanded refinery projects and oil
pipelines crisscrossing 28 states, which would transport and process
the dirty tar sands oil. Many are concerned that Prime Minister Harper
wants to protect the tar sands oil industry from climate regulation,
even though it is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas
emissions in Canada.
"Climate change, one of the biggest security threats of our
time, is something Canada and the United States face together.
Extracting tar sands oil, which sends three times more climate-changing
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than conventional oil, puts us all
at risk," said Eriel Deranger a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First
Nation and Rainforest Action Network's Tar Sands Campaigner in Alberta.
Opposition to tar sands oil has been rising on both sides
of the border. Just last month, four Native American and environmental
groups sued Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secretary James
Steinberg and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over Enbridge Energy's
Alberta Clipper pipeline. If built, the 1,375 mile pipeline would pump
800,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Northern Alberta to
Midwestern refineries.
"Americans need to know that tar sands oil from Canada will
prevent progress on climate change," said Logan Price, one of the lead
climbers in today's action.  "Expansion of tar sands oil consumption in
the U.S. undermines domestic and international efforts to achieve real
greenhouse gas emissions reductions."
Canada has no regulations to reduce greenhouse gas
pollution, and the federal government's climate change plan would allow
total pollution from the tar sands to increase almost 70 percent by
2020. Tar sands oil production is the fastest growing source of
greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and was recently cited as one of the
most important reasons Canada will miss its Kyoto targets by over 30%.
Mining oil from tar sands requires churning up huge tracts
of ancient boreal forest and polluting so much clean water with
poisonous chemicals that the resulting waste ponds can be seen from
outer space. The health impacts to Alberta's First Nation communities
are severe, with cancer rates up in some communities as much as 400
times its usual frequency. In addition, as this oil spills into the
U.S., communities living near oil refineries face increased air and
water pollution from tar sands oil, which contains 11 times more sulfur
and nickel and five times more lead than conventional oil. 
Despite hopes that carbon capture and storage (CCS) can
solve the problem, recent reports commissioned by the Governments of
Alberta and Canada show that just a small percentage of the carbon
dioxide released in the tar sands could be captured through this
expensive and unproven technology.
To follow today's action online through live blogs, video
and photos, visit www.ran.org/tarsands. You can also follow the
climbers on a live Twitter.com text loop at "follow ran actions". High
resolution images and b-roll available upon request. 
For quick facts on tar sands and the protest, visit www.ran.org/tarsands

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquarted in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime, and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.  

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