STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Want High Gas Prices? Invest in Tar Sands!

Posted by mhudema on June 19, 2008

June 18, 2008

Posted by Josh Mogerman in Moving Beyond Oil

ConocoPhillips, gas, refinery, tarsands

Prices at the pump are hitting us all pretty hard. Everyone is looking for a quick fix. And everyone is looking for someone to blame.

NRDC’s recent win against the ConocoPhillips Wood River Refinery air permits gave a target to some folks with a troubling agenda.

Last week a U.S. EPA appeals board sided with NRDC and the American Bottom Conservancy, effectively rejecting permits that were too lax. The decision probably set a precedent that other refinery expansions will need to live up to from here on out to keep more dangerous pollutants out of the air in nearby communities. While we have a lot of problems with the stuff that this facility will be refining, the case was all about forcing this $4 billion expansion project to live up to the rule of law. At a time of record oil company profits, we really should not ask kids in East St. Louis to pay the refinery’s environmental costs with asthma and the folks in Alton deserve the same environmental protections enjoyed by Californians. The law says best available technology is required—and that is where you will find it.

But some knee jerk reactionaries kept trying to link this to gas prices even though this refinery is years away from its planned completion. They said it was an effort to keep gas prices high… Or to make Americans drive ox carts to work… Huh?

Our challenges have done absolutely nothing to affect the current price of gas, but there certainly is a connection between prices at the pump and Midwestern refineries. Throughout the region, oil companies are undertaking huge expansion projects to refine more and more oil from Canadian tar sands. An investment in tar sands is an investment in high gas prices since the stuff is only profitable when a barrel of oil trades at the insanely high prices we have seen only recently. That is because tar sands oil is exactly what it sounds like, oil boiled from sand. Besides the frighteningly high environmental costs (in CO2 emitted, forests ripped to the ground, and water-intensive production), the stuff comes from one of the most expensive ways to extract oil there is…it ain’t cheap to squeeze goo from pebbles and sand.

Adding a dirty fuel source will hasten climate change, but it won’t fix the problem at the pump.

Tar sands will not make it easier for folks to fill their tanks right now. Unfortunately, very little will in the short term aside from tuning our engines, inflating our tires, and focusing on conservation. Only an embrace of efficient technologies can move us out of this hole—we cannot dig our way out of this mess.

NRDC is pushing for clean and renewable energy sources that will help stimulate the economy, create jobs, and help to ward of global disaster.

And the oil sands folks, what are they pushing for? I mean besides oil profits?

One Response to “Want High Gas Prices? Invest in Tar Sands!”

  1. jsknow said

    There is a better solution:
    Hemp can produce several different kinds of fuel. In the 1800’s and 1900’s hempseed oil was the primary source of fuel in the United States and was commonly used for lamps and other oil energy needs. The diesel engine was originally designed to run on hemp oil because Rudolf Diesel assumed that it would be the most common fuel. Hemp is also the most efficient plant for the production of methanol. It is estimated that, in one form or another, hemp grown in the United States could provide up to ninety percent of the nation’s entire energy needs.
    Source: Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

    Hemp is 4 times more efficient than corn as biofuel. Hemp pellets can be used to produce clean electricity.

    … so powerful it could replace every type of fossil fuel energy product (oil, coal, and natural gas).

    … This plant is the earth’s number one biomass resource or fastest growing annual plant for agriculture on a worldwide basis, producing up to 14 tons per acre. This is the only biomass source available that is capable of producing all the energy needs of the U.S. and the world…

    Hemp will produce cleaner air and reduce greenhouse gases. When biomass fuel burns, it produces CO2 (the major cause of the greenhouse effect), the same as fossil fuel; but during the growth cycle of the plant, photosynthesis removes as much CO2 from the air as burning the biomass adds, so hemp actually cleans the atmosphere. After the first cycle there is no further loading to the atmosphere…
    Source: USA Hemp Museum

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