I challenge columnist M.D. Harmon’s rosy image of a cheap and plentiful energy future through fracking and development of tar sands oil without regard to their impact on the environment.

Sure, jobs would be created by such development, but long term, how many people would be affected by the costs related to poor health and degraded water and land as a result of toxic chemicals injected into our groundwater? Burning fossil fuel generates planet-warming greenhouse gases, rising oceans, extreme weather, increased asthma and insect borne disease. These are hardly “empowering or enriching.”

I recently spent time in a Washington jail in order to register my frustration with such short-sighted views. I was part of a two-week long demonstration against the development of the Keystone XL pipeline. This 1,700 mile long conduit would bring dirty tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas. NASA scientist James Hansen contends that if the tars sands of Alberta are developed, runaway climate change would be impossible to control.

President Obama, and he alone, has the power to deny permission for such a risky venture. “Oil at any (environmental) cost” not only has serious environmental consequences, it also diverts funds and focus from the development of 21st century renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Our national and planetary security depends on moving away from fossil fuel no matter how much is under the ground.