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Reader's view: We should ask ourselves key questions on pipelines

A May 5 letter in the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, written in response to an April 22 Herald editorial that was reprinted in the News Tribune (“Keystone XL delays get embarrassing”), asked two key questions concerning the Keystone XL pipeline: “Can we be assured in an easement agreement that 99.9 percent of the tar-sand crude which the pipeline will carry will be turned into fuel for domestic consumption?” and, “Can we also be assured that this sudden flush of carbon abundance will not set back the development of alternative energy sources?”

These are two of several critical questions we should ask ourselves and our representatives concerning the growing debate not just about the pipeline but about fossil fuel in general — and the variety known as tar-sands crude oil in particular.

A third question for those of us who need no convincing in our opposition to Keystone XL is this: What am I willing to give up so my descendants do not have to suffer the climate catastrophe more and more scientists, experts and blue-ribbon panels predict?

It’s a question each of us must answer for ourselves, of course, but the more I read about this issue, the clearer I am that what I myself am doing is not enough. Soul-searching, re-evaluating, committing more deeply, even altering beliefs and practices: These always have preceded important social change. We are being called to do this now.

There are hundreds of excellent websites, books and articles on this topic. I recommend two recent magazines for starters: the March/April issue of the Utne Reader and the May 12 issue of The Nation. Also, I’ve been told that emailing politicians is much less effective than phone calls, snail mail and even personal visits to their offices.

Phil Fitzpatrick