Tag Archives: tar sands

My Keystone XL Comment

by Lisa Longo, 3/7/14

A promise was made, this pipeline would not be approved if it were going to seriously impact our environment. We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this pipeline is going to have a significant negative impact on our environment.

We don’t need it. And we don’t want it. This is Canadian tar sands sludge. This pipeline moves it through our country to a tax-free export zone. How is that patriotic or fiscally responsible? How does it help the US end its addiction to foreign oil? How does it help us move to a sustainable and renewable economy?

Not only should the pipeline be rejected, but we need to insist that transport by rail or truck is restricted. The spills, leaks, accidents, explosions and mistakes are happening more often, and costing US taxpayers more. The tar sands takes more energy to extract than we will ever receive. Why are we continuing on this dirty fossil fuel foolish path? We know there is a better way, we know how to do it.

At some point, someone has to be strong enough to stand up for our values. To say, this is wrong and we won’t allow it. Greed is the only motivation for extracting the tar sands sludge. Greed is the only motivation for this pipeline.

It is time for the US to be a leader in energy. It is time for a strategic reduction of consumption and conversion to renewable energy. We have to start here, today, and draw our line in the dirty tar sands.

Our President said, “Let us be the generation to slow the rise of the seas…”, we cannot do that and allow this pipeline. We cannot be that generation and ignore the devastation caused by extreme extraction. We cannot be that generation if we allow the contamination of our land, air and water so a few people can exploit our planet and move their profits offshore. We cannot be that generation if this pipeline is approved. We cannot be that generation if allow greed to overrule science. And we cannot be that generation if we sit idly by while our national security is traded for tax-free profit.

We can be that generation if we reject this pipeline. By rejecting the Keystone XL we send a message that we are serious about protecting our planet. We can be that generation if we begin a serious and strategic reduction of consumption of fossil fuels. We can be that generation if we stop extreme extraction on all BLM land and have a moratorium on all new FERC permits for drilling and pipelines while we draft a national energy policy based on reduction of consumption.

We can start today. We start by rejecting the Keystone.

And then tomorrow, we start moving forward on a path to renewable and sustainable development, staring with our schools. We convert our schools and we create jobs, cut costs, balance budgets, and we can even create a revenue stream for our schools. The dirty little secret of the fossil fuel industry is that we don’t need to pay for fuel, we have an endless free source available to us. More than one. We have solar. We have wind. We have geothermal.

We move forward tomorrow by insisting Congress pass the FRAC Act. We move forward by insisting we stop the $4 billion annual gift to the fossil fuel industry and we invest in renewable and sustainable energy, as our US Marine Corps and US Navy are already doing.

We start here. We start now. We start by rejecting the Keystone XL today. And tomorrow, we start our renewable future.

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Mining Tar Sands Produces Much More Air Pollution Than We Thought

By Joseph Stromberg, Smithsonian Magazine, February 3, 2014

Research shows that emissions of a class of air pollutants are two to three orders of magnitude higher than previously calculated

Last week, the U.S. State Department released a report indicating that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Western Canada’s Athabasca oil sands to the U.S., wouldn’t have significant environmental impacts. It’s worth noting, though, that the report didn’t say that extraction from the oil sands itself won’t have environmental impacts—just that this mining will proceed with or without the pipeline being built.

Your feelings on the pipeline aside, it’s well-established among scientists that extraction of oil from these oil sands (also known as tar sands) is environmentally dicey. The petroleum found in them doesn’t flow easily like conventional crude—it’s a sticky, viscous type formally known as bitumen but more commonly known as tar—so companies have to resort to alternate measures, either surface mining (digging up the rock or sand covering the oil-laden sediment) or injecting steam to get it out of the Earth.

This uses up an enormous amount of water, distributes toxic metals into the surrounding watershed and perhaps most important leads to an estimated 14 percent higher level of greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil, because some natural gas must be burned simply to convert the bitumen into a usable form.

To this list of concerns, we can now add another. A new study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that production in the Athabasca oil sands region is leading to the emission of levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) two to three orders of magnitude higher—that’s one hundred to one thousand times greater—than previously thought. These higher levels of PAHs in the area aren’t imminently dangerous (they’re comparable to levels found in urban areas, which result from burning gasoline in cars and trucks), but they’re significantly higher than reported in mining companies’ environmental impact assessments and Canada’s official National Pollutant Release Inventory.

Frank Wania and Abha Parajulee, environmental scientists at the University of Toronto, came to the finding by looking at previous estimates for the PAH emissions that result from mining (gleaned from the pollutant release inventory and the mining companies’ environmental impact assessments) and comparing them to levels of PAHs that they measured in the air in the Athabasca region.

“We found that these estimates are insufficient to explain what’s being measured in the environment,” Wania says. “The concentrations of PAHs that should be out there, based on these assumptions, are far too low.”…

continue reading and follow numerous links at Smithsonian Magazine

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Tar Sands Is Worse Than You Can Imagine: Incredible Images You Have to See

by Leslie Moyer, AlterNet, 4/15/13

…The connection between the astounding environmental destruction taking place in Canada and the debate over approval of the Keystone XL pipeline here in the US is clear. As the recent rupture of the Pegasus Pipeline in Arkansas makes abundantly clear, the transport of diluted bitumen from Alberta via pipelines to oil refineries thousands of miles away poses unacceptable environmental risks.

As important, the Keystone XL Pipeline is a key litmus test for the Obama Administration and the country as a whole. And the rest of the world is watching.

Although the Canadian tar sands contribute a small percentage of total global oil production and the Keystone XL Pipeline is just one of many contested fossil fuel projects in the world (in fact, First Nations and thousands of other Canadians are fighting an equally dangerous tar sands pipeline, the Northern Gateway Pipeline), this decision by President Obama is a keystone of a different kind – representing the kind of energy future we want for ourselves and our loved ones. …

read the full article and see photos azt AlterNet

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