Don’t stick your head in the (tar-)sand!

Learn more about one of 2012’s hottest presidential election topics—Alberta tar-sands oil production and the Keystone XL pipeline

Help Mary get her new home.

Help Mary get her new home.

Going solar
I recently found out that Blue Oak Charter School will be installing a large number of solar panels on the school’s roof. Local solar-module manufacturer Greenway Solar Power Inc. will be doing the work over the holiday break, Dec. 21 through Jan. 2. Go, Blue Oak! More on this next week …

A home for the holidays
I received an email from Habitat for Humanity of Butte County informing me that the nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization is seeking tax-deductible donations in order to finish building the house they have been working on for a limited-income woman identified as Mary. Habitat still needs $8,000 in order to complete Mary’s home in the Habitat Greens Subdivision in Chapmantown; Habitat’s affordable and sustainable houses typically cost about $45,000 to build, even with grants and a considerable amount of volunteer help. Go to to donate.

Also, a donation to Habitat’s ReStore by Dec. 31 of any used building materials you have lying around will net you a tax deduction on your 2011 return.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity’s charitable work (and the ReStore), go to

The Alberta tar-sands oil project has been called “the most destructive project on Earth.”

Don’t be apathetic—learn about tar-sands oil
We’ve all heard the news stories about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which Canadian firm TransCanada originally proposed to carry crude oil extracted from the province of Alberta’s Athabasca tar sands south to Texas. Back in September, U.S. serviceman and Chico State graduate Steven R. Breedlove wrote in this paper (see Guest comment, “My duty to protect this land,” Sept. 22) of participating in an August sit-in at the White House “to demand that my commander-in-chief deny TransCanada the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.”

Such a pipeline, Breedlove pointed out, “will facilitate the wanton destruction of native lands in Canada and the United States. It will violate the rights of farmers and ranchers along its route and threatens their livelihoods.

“A tar-sands pipeline has already poisoned the Yellowstone River, and Keystone XL’s route holds hostage the Ogallala Aquifer—the Intermountain West’s most important supply of domestic and irrigation water.

“Finally, Keystone XL will guarantee we continue down the irrevocable path of climate change, bringing more drought, more erratic weather and more severe climatic events.” The production of tar-sands oil is notoriously dirty, releasing at least three times the CO2 emissions as standard oil production (see

Heavily protested, the pipeline project has been put on hold by the Obama administration pending an environmental review of an alternate route that does not involve Nebraska’s sensitive Ogalalla Aquifer. Republican pressure on the president to move forward with the pipeline, however, has been immense—Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels recently appeared on Fox News disdainfully dismissing President Obama’s caution as “just kissing up to those who have a very extreme environmental view” (, and Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich recently termed Obama’s move “utterly irrational.”

If you are at all unclear on why the massive, filth-spewing, water- and air-polluting Canadian tar-sands project is not something to support, no matter how many jobs it may create (and even that is up for debate), watch “The Dirty Truth” at

RIP Christopher Hitchens.