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Former Council Board member in DC to speak about health impacts of KXL pipeline

The Council of Canadians protests outside the White House, November 2011.
Photo: The Council of Canadians protests outside the White House, November 2011.

Former Council of Canadians Board member Dr. John O’Connor will be in Washington, DC today to speak about the health impacts of tar sands operations and the Keystone XL pipeline. The event, being organized by US Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California), will feature scientists and environmentalists.

The Globe and Mail reports, “More than a decade ago, Dr. O’Connor raised red flags regarding health concerns in the oil sands region. At one point, he faced allegations of causing ‘undue alarm’ among residents of Fort Chipewyan, but the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons closed that file in 2009. The same year, the Alberta Cancer Board released a report that found elevated cancer cases in Fort Chipewyan over the 1995 to 2006 study period. Wrangling between the province, Ottawa, the industry and First Nations followed, and an independent study examining whether health issues are linked to oil sands pollution has never been completed. Dr. O’Connor continues to work as a physician in First Nations communities located downstream from production, and has advised landowners in the Peace River region who believe their health has suffered as a result of emissions from oil sands operations there.”

O’Connor says, “The pipeline going ahead is going to open the floodgates in terms of development. I’m just fearful for what will happen five to 10 years down the road.”

The Council of Canadians opposes Keystone XL

In August 2011, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow joined with allies to present a letter addressed to Ambassador Gary Doer at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. demanding an end to their lobbying for the Keystone XL pipeline. In September 2011, Barlow was arrested in a major civil disobedience protest against Keystone XL on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In November 2011, Barlow and 12,000 people gathered in Lafayette Square to #Surround the White House and demand that US President Barack Obama not issue the permit needed for the Keystone XL pipeline to proceed. Barlow also gave a major speech that day near the White House to those gathered for this protest. And in February 2013, the Council of Canadians joined more than 35,000 people in Washington in the #Forward on Climate march against the Keystone XL pipeline.