C U R R E N T
It’s not just about the pipeline
by Vicki Wolf
The Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast is bad enough: more than 2,000 miles of pipeline carrying synthetic crude oil across America’s heartland with no specific emergency plan to deal with spills.
The environmental impact is another important reason we should not be taking this risk for more oil. Most of Canada’s oil reserves lie in tar sands below its boreal forest. To extract the oil from the tar sands requires and energy-intensive, environmental destructive process: The forest is clear-cut, and natural gas and water is used to steam the oil out of the tar sand.
The boreal forest removes large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provides habitat for 30 percent of North America’s birds and other wildlife. The process of extracting the oil pollutes nearby areas, and burning oil from tar sands produces more carbon dioxide emissions than burning conventional oil. Relying on oil from tar sands for fuel is a formula for heating up global warming.
According to official U.S. Government Statistics, the use of natural gas in the extraction of oil from tar sands makes relying on this source for future energy supplies a risky business: Any increase in natural gas prices or dwindling supply puts this source of energy in jeopardy.
As Canadian petroleum geologist David Hughes explains: “Using natural gas to produce oil from tar sands is akin to turning gold into lead.”
Let the U.S. Senate and President Obama know they cannot falter on this important decision now. We want a country that runs on clean, safe energy, not dirty oil from Canada.
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