Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Oil sands in Canada – should we? RhondaJo Boomington

From Alon – RhondaJo is joining our team. Please click here (or scroll down) to get acquainted. Over to you, RhondaJo:

Last night, at dinner with a young fellow who is working at the Canadian Consulate this summer, I got a crash course on the Oil Sands of Canada.

The oil sands consist of oil that is encased in a type of thick sludge, which has the consistency of cold molasses at room temperatures. According to the New York Times, “Canadian oil sands are expected to become America’s top source of imported oil this year, surpassing conventional Canadian oil imports and roughly equaling the combined imports from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait”

Some people believe that oil sands are the answer to the United States’ unfulfilled need for oil that we can not produce. There’s no drilling in the ocean, no wrangling over supply from the Mid East. Just essentially an unlimited supply from a friendly neighbor.

Ah – but there’s a but. Isn’t there always – when we’re jockeying for the oil that we need?

The process of separating of the oil from the sludge  is dirty business, creating vast amounts of greenhouse emissions, far surpassing those created from drilling. And forests are ravaged in the process.

By 2030, oil sands are production may make up 36% of United States oil imports. There are plans to build a pipeline from Canada to transport the oil to Texas. The latest word is that the State Department is “inclined to approve the line on energy security grounds.”

Then the EPA will weigh in. The EPA may attempt to involve Obama – and Obama may simply stay out of the fray and suggest the two entities compromise amongst themselves.

I am not advocating for the use of oil sands. I am suggesting that oil sands are a reality about which we should learning more.

Yes, we should pursue biofuels (which is the research project of  another dinner companion that night). And electric cars and new fangled car designs that can ensure that our future is less dependent upon oil.

Cars of our future?

But in the meantime, my relatives, along with millions of others in middle America have to drive their older, gas guzzling cars to their job at the factory. To keep our economy going. To keep their families going.

Factory Worker

In getting the oil we need to live now – bad things will happen to the environment somewhere. It’s simply a fact.


RhondaJo Boomington landed in the haven of Berkeley six years ago and she never plans to leave. Formally a fundamentalist from North Carolina, she always voted for for Jesse Helms. Now she relishes her liberal lesbian life in the Bay Area. Her  J.D.  and a Masters of Divinity degree provides great material for her gigs as a stand up comic and solo performance artist.

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6 thoughts on “Oil sands in Canada – should we? RhondaJo Boomington

  1. Welcome to the team, RhondaJo! You are right about the bad things, but I always try to make the point that there are choices to make and priorities to set so that we, as a society, can choose the least of the bad consequences to our energy-hog ways. Just as an example, We have a “gas-guzzler” tax which was a great idea EXCEPT for one tiny detail – SUVs and pickups are exempt. Aaaaarrrrrrgh! Let’s close that loophole, and provide incentive to buy cars that get good gas mileage, or to use public transportation, where possible.

    -Tom Rossi

    • Rhonda on said:

      Hi Tom. Thanks for the welcome! I agree with what you’ve said. I certainly am not an expert on the gas guzzler tax. I know that it is true that there are a multitude of hard-working people in this country who have no money whatsoever to buy new cars of any type. It’s a struggle for them to make the necessary sacrifices to keep their cars running. It’s important that we find ways to allow them to continue getting to their jobs and feeding their families.

  2. Welcome RhondaJo-
    It’s good to have a female voice here.

    These tar sands may be a necessary evil but it sure seems like an ineffiecient way to get liquid energy. My understanding is that it’s near parity as far as getting energy out for what goes into getting it. It’s like a swap of one form of energy for another (coal, hydro, etc. for oil).

    I read your background…so what’s your take on Zoroastrianism?

    • Rhonda on said:

      Hi Roger. I’m glad to be a part of the team! Yes – there are difficulties with oil sands. And I am not advocating for them per se. I’m simply saying in addition to focusing on all the changes that we’ll make to ensure our future – we must also focus on present decisions that will maintain our present.

      I have rather limited knowledge of Zoroastrianism. That being said, I view it as I view most religious beliefs. As the yearnings of humans who are doing their absolute best and trying to make some sense out of their world. But in doing so, feel it’s necessary to be clear about excluding others. Oh – we humans can be so predictable 🙂

  3. Ann Valliant on said:

    Thanks, Rhonda, for speaking up about how environmental decisions have to take into account how working class people will be affected. Are you aware of what the people of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, did about changing their city charter to protect the rights of Mother Earth? The people of this working class city, having just about recovered from the destruction caused by the steel industry, discovered they had to resist fracking. And they seem to be succeeding. There’s a very strong connection between environmental degradation and the destruction of working class people. To watch the results, you’d think decision-makers see us and our communities as expendable commodities to be used up in the production of their profits. There’s a very interesting movement afoot that gives me hope. Google “wild law”

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