Tar sands protesters picket beverage event

PepsiCo, Coca-Cola urged to use alternative gas sources
2014-03-24T16:45:00Z 2014-03-25T15:46:18Z Tar sands protesters picket beverage eventJANELLE WETZSTEIN Napa Valley Register
March 24, 2014 4:45 pm  • 

With mining oil from tar sands creating environmental concerns nationally, a group of local demonstrators joined the fray Monday when they staged a protest against PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, which were attending the national Food & Beverage Environmental Conference in Napa.

About 15 people armed with hand-painted signs and blue balloons stood on the sidewalk across from the Napa Valley Marriott on Monday afternoon, chanting anti-tar sand slogans through bullhorns aimed at conference attendees.

“We are happy to see good water stewardship by Pepsi, but we are worried because the fuels that they use in their commercial fleet vehicles wreak havoc on the natural habitat and the public’s health,” said Napa resident and Sierra Club member Jim Wilson, who helped organize the rally. “I don’t think PepsiCo wants to hand the next generation of Pepsi drinkers a planet that has been destroyed by their practices.”

Calls to PepsiCo for comment were not returned Monday. Coca-Cola represenatives could not be reached for comment.

Tar sands, also called oil sands, are Canadian fuel deposits made of clay, sand, water and bitumen — a heavy, black viscous oil. Unlike other fossil fuels, the bitumen in tar sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state. Instead, the oil is mined in a more complex manner, which has made it a hot-button issue for environmentalists who claim the mining process damages surrounding lands.

Those who support tar sand oil mining argue that the use of tar sand oil reduces the country’s reliance on overseas fuel producers. They also contend that the effects on surrounding environments and populations are minimal and monitored regularly. Because elements used to extract the oil are not discharged directly into streams and rivers, those in favor of tar sand mining assert that it is safe.

But many environmentalists do not agree. Last year, Canadian environmental researcher Jane Kirk discovered a 7,300-square-mile area of land and water surrounding the tar sands in Alberta that has been contaminated by mercury, possibly from oil mining. Earlier this month, Albany County in New York halted plans for a tar sands oil processing plant until it received comprehensive results of a public health study on the effects of such work.

Wilson, a retired brewing quality manager for the Fairfield Anheuser-Busch brewery, and his wife, Leonore, have worked for some time to educate the public on what they say are the harmful effects of tar sands oil mining and usage. According to Wilson, if major fossil fuel consumers — such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola — stop relying on tar sands oil, the need for the cheaper fuel source would disappear.

“Every day we see the effects of climate change on the news,” Wilson said Monday. “We’ve stated our concerns to many companies and we’ve had a good response from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Walgreens — all of which have agreed not to use tar sands oil in their fleet vehicles for deliveries and such. What we want to see is the same commitment from PepsiCo. We want to see them step up and make a commitment to our environment.”

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(12) Comments

  1. StillInNapa
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    StillInNapa - March 24, 2014 7:03 pm
    I don't get it! Why Pepsico and Coke? Do they have their own tar sands filling stations? Imo, buy whatever you can get cheapest. If these protesters would protest in the location where polluting is going on, and require accountability from and at the source, I would be inclined to support their efforts. Otherwise, not so much...
  2. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - March 24, 2014 7:40 pm
    I'd consider myself an environmentalist. But when I read about protests like this one, I wonder how many of the protesters drove their private vehicle to the site, or live in single unit housing, and otherwise have a fairly typical energy intensive American life-style?
  3. kevin
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    kevin - March 24, 2014 8:19 pm
    Tar sands fuel will end up being sold one way or another. Either here or overseas...
  4. glenroy
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    glenroy - March 25, 2014 5:41 am
    Bet the farm most of them live off the tax payers...
  5. Mashed Potatoes
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    Mashed Potatoes - March 25, 2014 8:04 am
    Welcome to Napa, home of the stupid. These companies are coming here patronizing our businesses, our restaurants and hotels and these...people are acting like fools.
  6. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - March 25, 2014 8:22 am
    Looks like unemployment pays well enough that you can drive your tar sand powered car to the Meritiage and protest. Want to bet that some of them drink Coke, Pepsi or other products owned by both companies? They better stop eating fast food as PepsiCo owns several chains.
  7. napken
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    napken - March 25, 2014 11:20 am
    Wow, looks like even 1 800 RENTAMOB has suffered some budget cuts. It's a sad day when your entire protest demonstration can fit in a minivan. Just a bunch of folks bemoaning the worlds very existence. I didn't see a big pile of bicycles there...gasp...did they drive there? How about those signs...sigh...were they crafted with recycled paper? Was the ink totally free range, 100% organic, free trade? I sure hope so, otherwise they are just a group of jobless, lots of free time on their hands hypocrites, yawn....
  8. dellasumbrella
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    dellasumbrella - March 25, 2014 12:41 pm
    As usual, when there's no adequate argument against preservation of the earth, the only recourse left is to try to malign the messengers.

    Speaking for myself in response to the ad hominem attacks in these comments, (1) Yes, I drove my private vehicle--one with the best gas mileage I could find for the price I could pay--to the site, just a half mile detour from my shopping route for food and garden vegetable plants and to make a donation of books; (2) Yes, I live with my husband in a house with solar panels for electricity and a well for water, but as for typical energy-intensive American life-style, my husband and I use less in gas, electricity and water than average; (3) No, I don't live off the taxpayers: I've worked most of my adult life and at age 70 am trying my best to retire, and the pittance I receive in Social Security--nothing like the Koch Brothers or GE receive in tax breaks and subsidies--would barely cover the average American's yearly electric bill; (cont'd)
  9. dellasumbrella
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    dellasumbrella - March 25, 2014 12:49 pm
    (4) Yes I have infrequently consumed Coke and Pepsi, but until they catch up with libertarian Whole Earth Foods and other profitable companies in terms of environmental responsibility, I'll just go with my usual juice and water routine; no I don't eat at fast food restaurants; (5) Yes,unlike all Americans, I struggle with the incongruence of living American-style and the need to revise our approaches to creating the illusion of comfort if we want to retain the possibility of comfort over the long haul.

    And finally, yes, I'm willing to act like a fool if that means trying to curtail the waste, spoilage and pollution we have visited on our earth so future generations of humans (none of which will be mine) and wildlife will have a safe and healthy source of sustenance.

    Yeah, I'm in the warm water of hypocrisy. But better to say something now than to wait until the water's boiling.
  10. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - March 25, 2014 2:19 pm
    della, when you find Utopia you are welcome to move there along with all the others that think they can change the world. You can take Obama with you and he can be the new president of the promise land.
  11. ACamp
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    ACamp - March 25, 2014 3:33 pm
    Dellasumbrella: Eloquent reply!
  12. dellasumbrella
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    dellasumbrella - March 25, 2014 6:58 pm
    The world has changed -- and will continue to change. If there's such thing as "Utopia", it lies in the state of caring and can be found in the community of determination, along the avenue of action. And we've already moved in, thank you. Oh, and we elected Obama as president.

    Thanks for the suggestion, OTN. Done.
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