Mike Richter Takes Stand Against Dirty Oil

  • Thursday, March 11, 2010 1:12 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks


Most hockey fans remember goalie Mike Richter leading the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994.

It was the Blueshirts' first championship since 1940 and happened in a thrilling Game 7 victory at Madison Square Garden over the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 3-2 to send Gotham into a frenzy.

But not many know about the Hall of Fame netminder's off-ice heroics of late. Richter is committed to a much tougher task than stopping pucks -- he is speaking out about fighting climate change and his target is the tar sands of Canada.

The Abingdon, Pa., native and father of three sons recently teamed with the Sierra Club to advocate for a clean energy economy in America and he also wrote an op-ed against a proposed Canada-to-USA dirty oil pipeline that ran in newspapers in the United States and Canada.

In the op-ed he points out the inconvenient truth of the Athabasca Oil Sands and the devastation they cause the environment (including the threat of killing as many as 166 million migratory birds over the next five decades, one of which is seen below):

"The Canadian province of Alberta is home to a form of oil that is considered the dirtiest on earth. It's called the oil sands, and each barrel creates three times the global-warming pollution of conventional oil. That's a staggering amount of carbon," writes Richter.

And in his letter to Sierra Club supporters he says the following:

"I'm calling my senators because I want my three sons to benefit from a lifetime of winter sports, to graduate in a country that continues to be a world leader in industry and innovation, especially when it comes to clean energy, and to protect them from the reliance on foreign oil that threatens our national security."

But is it too late to stop the dirtiest oil on the planet from crossing the border into America? Perhaps. From Wikipedia:

"On August 20, 2009, the U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit for an Alberta Clipper Pipeline that will run from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. The pipeline will be capable of carrying up to 450,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Athabasca Oil Sands to U.S. refineries."

I checked the State Department website and in the press release of the Alberta Clipper Pipeline permit it includes the strikingly contradictory statements that greenhouse gas emissions were taken into account and that the United States is committed to reducing carbon emissions and reducing dependence on oil.

Huh? Then why start pumping the filthiest fossil fuel on the planet into Wisconsin. Doesn't make sense. If this is the idea of addressing climate change than I agree with Richter and suggest scrapping this pipeline. But I'll let Richter speak for himself:

"We can't seriously combat global warming while getting fuel from the world's dirtiest source. If we allow Canada's oil sands project to creep across our border, it will lock our nation into dependence on yet another foreign source of oil, just as our local clean-energy industry is beginning to thrive.

Right now, we are poised to become a leader in the global clean-energy economy. By taking the steps to ensure that we are the leader of the next industrial revolution, we can reignite our economy, bolster national security and improve the health of our people.

One of the most important things we can do to demonstrate that leadership is to say no to Canada's oil sands. For now, the decision rests with the Obama administration. By denying permits for pipelines and refineries in the United States, President Obama can signal to the world that we are serious about fighting climate change and helping American clean-energy technologies thrive.

If he does, we just might be able to save the winter games we love -- and set a new course for the nation we cherish."

Thanks, Mike Richter, for doing what's right and taking a stand on this important issue. While he is busy as a founding partner in the private equity firm Environmental Capital Partners and was considering running for U.S. Congress under Connecticut's 4th congressional district in 2008, my hope is that Richter brings his message to Washington. President Obama and Congress need to hear from a hero like Richter.