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Guest Blogger: Molly Prince: Sand Creek and Suncor

April 1, 2013
2013 - 3 - 30 - Suncor, Commerce City, CO

Suncor, Commerce City, Colorado

by Molly Prince

Last April I read an incredible, beautiful book: The Spell of the Sensuous.  It ends with a call from the author to KNOW your local environment and its issues.  Well, that sounds nice I thought but I have no idea how to go about doing that.  Researching it on-line makes my eyes glaze over. 

In Denver this the past week, there have been three protests/marches about environmental issues.  I wish there had been no need for them, but since there was a need, I was grateful to the organizers for making them happen.  Among other things, these events served as a gateway for learning more about current local and global issues

Mol Prince Photo

Molly Prince Photo: Confluence of Sand Creek and the South Platte River, Commerce City, Colorado

One focus of the protests was the Keystone XL pipeline.  The proposed pipeline is a serious  problem because of the possibility of oil spills and leaks and because it would transport tar sands oil, which creates more pollution (including 3 times more carbon emissions) than other oil.  The biggest reason why the pipeline is A VERY BAD IDEA is because it is part of a broader policy that is continuing to make the climate crisis exponentially worse.  If we were taking the climate crisis seriously we would be making different choices.

The global issue of the pipeline has a local connection at the Suncor oil refinery near 64th and York and the location of a rally and march on March 30th.  Different protests have different characters.   This one was about building a relationship to a local place.  I had previously ridden my bicycle past this area and noticed that it smelled bad and was ugly but not thought much more about it.  As part of the rally and march I understood this place in a deeper way.

I understood that the huge structure with lots of pipes is an oil refinery called Suncor.  About 20% of the oil it processes is tar sands oil.  It is contributing to the climate crisis and its pollution is hurting the people living in the surrounding neighborhoods (think cancer and asthma), and it is hurting the local wildlife and the Sand Creek.

In 2011, 2013 - 3 - 30 - Suncor, Commerce City, CO 2there was an oil leak of Suncor oil into the Sand Creek.  It is one thing to read that and another thing to stand looking at the river.   It makes the abstract concrete. That means that when I came back with new leads about what I wanted to research, my eyes did not glaze over.  I found out that the oil spill into Sand Creek is only a tiny piece in the big picture.  On 9/13/2011, the Denver Post reported that on average 7 oil spills were happening every 5 days in Colorado.

These issues upset me but I also believe in the value of being informed.  And I find encouragement by being outside in the sunshine together with other people who care about these upsetting issues and are working to make change.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 13, 2013 4:41 am

    Thanks for making us aware of the David Abram book, which I’d never heard about. It’s a mystery to me how more people don’t feel how vulnerable and fragile the earth is; it virtually cries out for nurturing.

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