Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mourning for Canada's Wild Places: Questioning the Tar Sands Pipeline

A Devotional for the Second Week of Lent
By Rev. Dana Eglinton

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

Go to one of the internet mapping sites; set to – satellite image; search for Fort MacKay, Alberta, Canada; and scroll out a little so you can see the land around the town of Fort MacKay.  You will get an aerial view of what tar sands mining operations look like.  You will see open pit strip mines, processing facilities, and tailings ponds straddling the Athabasca River.  Check out the mileage scale on the map, and note how large an area has already been denuded of vegetation and turned into an industrial wasteland.  And know that this is just the beginning of the destruction of forests, and the pollution of air and ground and surface waters.  To see maps of what more is planned go to

The whole point of tar sands mining is of course to supply gasoline for your car and fuel oil to heat your home.  To expedite the process of turning tar sands oil into consumable products in the United States the industry has proposed the Keystone XL pipeline to carry the tar sands crude from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.  Unfortunately the energy inputs required to mine, transport, and refine tar sands oil are much higher than those associated with conventional oil, adding an additional burden of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

So maybe you should consider spending some prayer time this Lenten season in mourning – lifting up the damaged earth and its damaged people to God.    Lament the ongoing desecration of forests, rivers, lakes, ground water, and air quality as the tar sands are exploited.  Mourn the additional burden of carbon dioxide being added to the atmosphere.  Cry for our impoverished imaginations that have trapped us in ongoing cycles of ecological and cultural destruction. Mourn, but find strength in the wisdom of Jesus, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  And then in the power of the comforting Spirit get back to work at stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and at getting a carbon tax in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Rev. Dana Eglington is the Northeast Regional Representative for Presbyterians for Earth Care. He is pastor of Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, in Bordentown, NJ and a participant in its Earth Care Ministry.

Click here to download the entire 2013 PEC Lenten Devotional, "From Ashes to Resurrection, From Soot to Hope"!

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