Tar Sands

Expanding Tar Sands Capability: I thought we were trying to reduce GHG emissions, pollution and environmental impact?


The XL pipeline is a go

Tar sands are sludgy deposits of sand, clay, water, and sticky black bitumen that lie beneath northern Alberta’s boreal forest in a region the size of Florida.

President Trump has approved the Keystone XL pipeline, overriding the Obama administration’s objections to the project.  The pipeline’s objective is to bring oil sands from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. Most of the oil sands refineries in the U.S. are in the Chicago and Denver metropolitan areas.

California’s main petroleum sources, including Southern California and Alaskan north slope oil fields, have been running out, and the remaining available California crudes are uniquely dense—much like tar sands. Consequently, West Coast refineries have developed a greater capacity to convert denser oils into fuels than those anywhere else in the world. The West Coast, in short, may provide oil corporations with the best new major market opportunity for refining tar sands.

The previously pristine boreal forest

Canada’s boreal forest provides 1.3 billion acres of wild habitat for an array of species, from large carnivores like grizzly bears, wolves, and lynx to nesting migratory birds to thousands of plant varieties.

Tar emitted, tar in the water, tar released in the air

The production of Canadian tar sands wreaks havoc on the environment in various ways. It involves devastating the boreal forest, which is one of the world’s most important sponges of carbon dioxide.

The extraction and conversion of tar sand into a usable fuel is also an energy- and water-intensive endeavor that includes strip mining giant swaths of land, thus releasing a considerable quantity of greenhouse gases while exacting a devastating toll on the region’s water quality and indigenous people. Refining tar sands also leaves behind dirtier byproducts that contribute mightily to the climate crisis.

Tar sands – Best left under the forest

Tar sands extraction emits up to three times more global warming pollution than producing the same quantity of conventional crude oil. It also depletes and pollutes freshwater resources and creates giant ponds of toxic waste. Refining the sticky black substance produces piles of petroleum coke, a hazardous byproduct. These are clear reasons to leave the pristine boreal forest as it is.