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NEWS RELEASE · 8th June 2010
Bellingham’s new fleet policy parallels corporate shifts away from world’s dirtiest oil

The city of Bellingham, Washington has resolved to avoid fuel from refineries connected to the tar sands, becoming the first city in North America to take action against the controversial fossil fuel.

Last night Bellingham’s city council unanimously passed two resolutions with the aim of eliminating tar sands in their fleet and moving toward a transition off of fossil fuels. The resolution explicitly cited the carbon and other environmental impacts from the tar sands, including “permanent damage to Canada’s Boreal forest ecosystem and the Athabasca River ecosystem, destruction of scarce freshwater [and] generation of toxic waste.”

Bellingham has served as one of two major entry points for tar sands (the other is Billings, Montana), and its anti-tar sands resolutions emphasize the challenges facing Canada’s dirty oil in the United States as details spread of its impact on local and global communities.

“The tar sands industry saw BP’s oil rig blow out as a blessing – spinning it as a cleaner, safer option to off-shore drilling”, said Nikki Skuce, ForestEthics Senior Energy Campaigner. “Bellingham’s resolutions as well as actions taken by Fortune 500 companies show that cities and companies are not buying Canada’s tar sands PR machine.”

The second resolution looks to “progressively shift its operations and consumption away from fossil fueled transportation, particularly transportation fueled by high carbon fuels such as those derived from Canadian tar sands”, and to meet its climate change commitments.

The Bellingham resolution mirrors actions taken by corporate America at the request of ForestEthics. To date, ten major US companies have taken action to reduce or eliminate Canada’s tar sands in their transportation footprints. ForestEthics announced action by two of these companies – Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond – in February. Public announcement of actions taken by other Fortune 500 companies is expected sometime this summer.

“It’s time for our governments to drop PR campaigns and face the growing market concerns,” said Skuce. “Leadership from cities like Bellingham and companies like Whole Foods to transition off dirty oil can help catalyze the change that’s needed for a clean energy future.”