Post-Sebago Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 21, 2013
200 Mainers and Bill McKibben Participate in 'People's Flotilla' to Protect Sebago Lake Watershed and Say 'No' to Tar Sands Oil
Sass Linneken, 350 Maine spokesperson
SEBAGO LAKE, Maine – Noted author and 350.org founder Bill McKibben was part of a day of family fun, parades, creative lake theater, and fundraising efforts totaling $285 for the effected people of Lac Megantic on Saturday morning, July 20, at Casco’s Sebago Lake State Park, which drew a crowd of roughly 200 people .
“The whole world is just coming apart,” said McKibben. “When I first wrote about [climate change] 25 years ago … it was pretty abstract. There’s nothing abstract about it now,” he added.
The Sebago Lake Flotilla to Keep New England Tar Sands Free event, which featured an appearance by McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth, offered family-friendly festivities and live music by New England’s own “bike-powered band,” Melodeego. Sponsored by 350 Maine and a coalition that included Sierra Club Maine Chapter, Environment Maine, Green Alliance, and Food & Water Watch Maine, the day’s activities were designed to celebrate the significant resource that is Sebago Lake and the need to protect it from the risk of tar sands oil pollution.
Check out photos from the event on 350 Maine's Flickr page.
“Sebago Lake is one of Maine’s jewels and because so many rely on it for their drinking water we have to make sure the lake is protected from the threat of tar sands oil,” said 350 Maine’s Sarah Lachance of York County.
“This is an opportunity to treasure what we have now and to make sure that we don’t put that precious resource at risk of the spill tragedies that occurred in Mayflower, Arkansas and the Kalamazoo River in Michigan,” she added.
350 Maine and other Maine environmental groups are supporting citizen initiatives to protect Sebago Lake from ExxonMobil’s plan to pump tar sands oil through a 63-year-old pipeline running within 500 feet of the lake’s edge, by reversing the pipeline’s flow. Sebago Lake is Maine’s largest public water source, supplying 15% of the state’s population with clean drinking water.
“Our fossil fuel addiction is turning vast areas of our planet into environmental sacrifice zones. In each of these areas the lives of the people and health of the land are sacrificed for the profits of the oil companies,” said press conference speaker and one of 350 Maine’s founders, Read Brugger.
“Continued reliance on fossil fuels will surely lead to more human misery and a climate so changed that a mass die off of species would be inevitable. The stakes are that high. 350 Maine will not back down in our campaigns against extreme energy,” he added.
Event festivities included a people’s parade, flotilla of inner tubes and water craft, mock oil spill, and other lakeside activities. An educational press conference featured Bill McKibben, Maine residents Connie Cross, Carol Masterson, and Sylvia Stormwalker, Harvard divestment leader Chloe Maxmin, and 350 Maine’s Read Brugger, one of six people arrested in June for blockading a train of “fracked” oil in Fairfield, Maine.
“350 Maine joins with Maine’s other environmental groups to protect our land and our water. This is especially poignant given that July 25th will mark the third anniversary of the Kalamazoo River spill where a million gallons of thick, toxic, tar sands oil, caused the most expensive environmental disaster in America’s history, permanently polluting over 30 miles of the river,” said Bob Klotz of South Portland, 350 Maine tar sands coordinator.
“We understand that the extraction and transport of tar sands oil has an immediate impact on First Nation and other frontline communities and Mainers do not want to be complicit in that. We also understand that tar sands oil has an ultimate impact on climate change, which impacts all life on our planet,” Klotz continued.
350 Maine’s Sylvia Stormwalker pointed to the connected efforts of activists nationwide stating that, despite her sadness and anger over extreme means of fossil fuel extraction, the proposed tar sands project offers “an opportunity to see our interconnection with these struggles across the continent in a very real, tangible way.”
The Sebago Lake Flotilla to Keep New England Tar Sands Free is part of 350.org’s Summer Heat, a series of events and actions across the country to call attention to the need for serious action to address climate change. These many local battles fit into the global one: even if tar sands oil doesn’t spill into Sebago Lake, it will eventually spill into the atmosphere in the form of carbon, changing the climate. Summer Heat recognizes the increasing temperatures around the globe, the rising oceans, and the lack of political will to end fossil fuel addiction and transition to a saner, sustainable way of life on Earth.
“Our lakes are freezing later in the fall and thawing sooner in the spring. Sometimes this big lake doesn’t freeze at all. That never happened 30 years ago. I think we all have reason to be concerned,” said Connie Cross of Casco, who helped pass the first resolution in Maine opposing tar sands.
The Saturday, July 20 event started at 9:00 a.m. with music and activities, and was followed by a people’s parade, lake theater, and a press conference, featuring Bill McKibben.
350 Maine (www.350maine.org) is a grassroots movement dedicated to solving the planetary climate crisis. Members grow their power collectively to find real and lasting solutions, to end dependence on fossil fuels, and to build a healthy, sustainable life for people and the planet.
350 Maine stands in solidarity with the people of Lac Megantic, where an oil train derailed and exploded. Donations to help the town recover should be sent to La Croix-Rouge Canadienne: