The following was written by Nancy Zorn, 79 year old grandmother of 10, resident of Oklahoma, who locked her neck to equipment yesterday on KXL construction site in Allen, OK.
I stand in solidarity with the earth, first of all, that was venerated by ancient people as the body of the goddess and is viewed as sacred today by many, called Mother Earth. It is the earth that provides the cradle for our birth and nourishes us throughout life. As it is necessary to our lives, exploiting its resources beyond its tolerance is suicidal. We are raping the earth, and it is calling out in agony. Tar sands extraction requires mining more soil than was used in building the Great Pyramid and the Suez Canal of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and the ten largest dams in the world. All this dirt comes from Canada’s Boreal Forest, the rain forest of North America as large as the State of Florida, filled with massive trees that are nesting grounds for migrating birds around the world and home to many threatened species. These trees, that are nature’s best method of storing carbon, must be cut down, releasing the carbon and raising CO2 levels and global temperatures. Scientists say continued tar sands development will create a climate we can hardly imagine.
When the trees are cut down, mining can begin. This is an extremely energy intensive process. It is an extremely water intensive process. On-going operations in Canada use enough natural gas to heat over 3 million homes. The water becomes so toxic it often can’t be recycled and must be stored in ponds so large they can be seen from space, devastating the health of local populations. Once mined, the thick bitumen has to be diluted and forced through specially constructed pipes. One pipeline now in use ruptured 14 times during 2010, pouring oil onto farmland and polluting ground water with sulfur, nickel, lead and other neurotoxic metals. Even when lines don’t rupture, they often leak at joints because of corrosive and abrasive properties in the oil, and such leaks go undetected for long periods in our ranches and prairies. Tar sands oil is not normal crude. The calamity in the Kalamazoo River July of 2010 in Michian still defies cleanup efforts because oil sinks to the bottom. The river is toxic and uninhabitable for any life to this day. Now there is the spill in Arkansas. Will Oklahoma be next? The same kind of pipeline is slated to cross major aquifers in Payne, Lincoln, Seminole, Hughes, Atoka, Coal and Bryan counties.
Next I stand in solidarity with Native Americans everywhere, especially in Canada, where the vast toxic ponds are causing acid rain, polluting fresh water, and elevating levels of cancer. I would be proud to stand with Lakota Grandmothers, the heart of resistance to the destruction of their people. Many Lakota Indians live on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, surrounded by abandoned open pit uranium mines that prompted President Nixon to declare the region a “National Sacrifice Area”. Yet here they live to this day, 97% below the poverty line, with health statistics astonishingly worse than the U.S. Average, and a life expectancy of 44 years. These Grandmothers, including a survivor from the 1973 battle at Wounded Knee, work to reestablish a matriarchal culture that viewed the earth as sacred, but face retaliation for efforts to end the corruption, poverty, trafficking of drugs, and hopelessness that accompany forced assimilation into the American lifestyle. Also in the Dakotas are the Cheyenne river Indians and others in extreme poverty suffering more than any of us from increased air, water, and soil pollution. I stand in support of Idle No More, a Native American group consolidating power and protest in many states. Finally, there is the Cree Indian prophecy, which inspired Greenpeace. “There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does, a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it… they will be known as the “warriors of the Rainbow”. Scientists estimate that burning more than 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide risks catastrophe for life on earth. Energy corporations now have five times that amount in their reserves and will burn it all unless we stop them. The time for speculation and debate is over. I hope this one small action today will inspire many to become warriors of the rainbow. The earth needs us all.