Is it just me?


Is it just me? Or, does there seem to be an unprecedented number of energy related spills going on right now?

In November, in rural Alabama, a train derailed and exploded, releasing 2.7 million gallons of crude oil. In January, a massive chemical spill (a toxic chemical used to clean coal) into the Elk River in West Virginia has left residents still unable to use their water. February has seen spills left and right:  a coal slurry spill on the Kanawha River in WV- basically the same area that is still suffering from the earlier chemical spill; a massive release of coal ash into the Dan River in Virginia; another train derailing up in Minnesota that has 12,000 gallons of spilled crude oil; a train derailed and spilling Canadian crude oil in Pennsylvania and just this week- so close to home- 5,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled in Hominy Creek and have since made it into the French Broad River.

What is going on? At what point do we stop the madness? When we no longer have clean water to drink- it’s game over. Between the spills, the accidents, the fracking, the coal ash, the heavy metals- things are looking ominous.

What happens when solar spills? Oh- right, it’s called a nice day.

There are a number of ways in which we really need to step up and take action. First- we need to pay attention and hold the corporations behind these spills accountable. Next, we need to let our elected officials know that we are paying attention and we demand accountability. And- we need to take steps to reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels- through efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint and making the switch to clean, sustainable and renewable solar, wind and water power.

Some ways we can begin to address the spills include-

*Greenpeace has a petition, started by campaigner Ben Kroetz, to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good, which says: I am writing to demand that Duke Energy clean up the coal ash in the Dan River and prevent future disasters from occurring at its other unlined coal ash dumps. This toxic waste must be removed and stored in dry, lined landfills to protect the safety of our drinking water, rivers, and lakes. You can sign this petition here: Sign Ben’s petition

*To support the citizens of WV- there are a number of groups on the ground and working on the spill issues. Check out West Virginia Citizen Action Group here: as well, Climate Ground Zero at and there are numerous campaigns at Earth Justice that address all of these issues.

*2013 was the worst year yet for rail car spills – this one is harder to address as effective work is almost always needed state by state. However- one big step with far reaching consequences is to take action against the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone XL is a proposed pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast refineries. It is estimated that 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil would be transported, refined, exported and burned each day. Tar sands oil has a massive carbon footprint- sometimes requiring more energy to produce than it creates. Numerous climate scientists have predicted “game over” for the climate if the pipeline is built and the tar sands are exploited.

On May 4, 2012, the Department of State received a new application from TransCanada Corp for the pipeline. The Department is considering this new application. On February 5, 2014, the Federal Register published a Notice that invited members of the public to comment on any factor they deem relevant in consideration of this pipeline. This 30 day public comment period will close on March 7, 2014. There are two ways to submit comments- you can submit to . Or comments may be mailed directly to:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Please take a moment to raise your voice for our climate, our children, our future. And, don’t postpone this action as the deadline for comments is March 7th is fast approaching. 

(photo credit to AP Photo/Gerry Broome) 

this piece was shared from the Sundance Power Systems newsletter- to learn more about Sundance, visit and was authored by Sierra Hollister, to read more of what Sierra writes, visit