Jason Mark

Jason Mark is the author of Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man, and the editor of SIERRA magazine.

Recent Articles

Blame Canada

Tar sands oil extraction is not a real solution anyway.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Marlene Orr lives in Ft. McKay, Alberta, a tiny hamlet of two First Nations groups at the center of Canada's tar sands deposits, the largest petroleum reserve outside of Saudi Arabia. Ft. McKay is ground zero for tar sands extraction; the giant Syncrude and Suncor mines are to the south, Total E&P's source is to the west, and Shell's mine lies to the north of town, on the far shore of the Athabasca River. Like almost everyone in Ft. McKay, Orr's livelihood is dependent upon the burgeoning tar sands industry. She owns a small company, First Nations Welding, that works for the mining companies. Her husband, Mike, has served as one of the elected councilors for the Ft. McKay area since 1998 and helps manage the community's relations with industry. So it wasn't an easy decision when, last November, the couple went to the CBC to expose what they called a dangerous waste disposal pond not far from Ft. McKay's main fresh water source. Taking organic material found in sand and turning it...

Are We There Yet?

Passage of the transportation reauthorization bill would finally shift us toward more environmentally sustainable communities.

With the country mired in two major wars and millions of Americans unable to find work, improving rail lines, conducting road repairs, and building bike lanes might rank low on the list of national priorities. But here's the thing: Global climate change isn't going to wait for the U.S. to get out of the recession, and the federal transportation bill, up for reauthorization this year, offers a prime way of tackling it. At a time when unemployment seems fixed at 10 percent, it also offers an opportunity for the Obama administration to make headway on the jobs front. "[The transportation-reauthorization bill] is arguably the biggest policy lever that can still be pulled by Congress in a way that helps to reduce oil dependence and reduce pollution due to the combustion of oil," says Deron Lovaas, the transportation policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the environmental organizations lobbying for a bill that invests more heavily in mass transit. Congress...