Environmental Issues > Energy Main Page > All Energy Documents


  • Tar sands fuels cause significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels.
  • Tar sands fuels entering the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states from Western Canada and the Gulf Coast threaten to undermine efforts to combat climate change.
  • State leaders should begin by categorizing and tracking the sources and carbon intensities of the gasoline and diesel that power cars and trucks in their state.

Oil industry plans could cause a dramatic increase in the use of tar sands-derived gasoline in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, a shift that would move the region backwards in its efforts to fight climate change. Roughly 85 percent of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic fuel supply comes from refineries on the Gulf Coast and in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and eastern Canada. As of 2012, the region was virtually tar sands free, with fuel derived from that source at less than 1 percent.

However, Gulf Coast refineries are taking an increasing volume of tar sands crude as more pipelines are built or retrofitted to carry it to the Gulf. While most of the tar sands-derived product from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would be exported, some of it could end up being sent from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. If the pipeline is approved, even a small percentage of the pipeline's volume could cause a dramatic increase in the volume of tar sands flowing to the Northeast, a major threat to the carbon intensity of the region's fuels. Additional threats may be posed by refineries in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and eastern Canada, some of which may be considering options including retrofitting in order to process more tar sands.

By 2020, if these carbon intensive projects move forward, as much as 18 percent of the region's fuel supply could be derived from the high-carbon feedstock. At that penetration, the switch to tar sands fuels would increase greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 million metric tons, an amount that would offset most of the carbon pollution reductions that the region is seeking under its landmark Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Even without Keystone XL, the region's fuel supply will contain more tar sands if steps are not taken to keep out this high-carbon fuel. In the short term, between 2012 and 2015, the volume of tar sands–derived fuel supplying the Northeast is projected to grow more than sixfold.

Citizens, Towns, and State Leaders Can Take Action to Support Clean Transportation

Citizens in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states strongly support efforts to fight global warming, which means rejecting carbon intensive fuels like tar sands and embracing cleaner transportation alternatives. For example, fueling our cars and trucks with lower-carbon fuels such as electricity and creating more public transportation will preserve our health, protect our environment, and strengthen our economy.

State leaders, with the support of citizens and local communities, need to take action now to implement policies that will clean up transportation. The first step is tracking tar sands fuel and the carbon intensity of the gasoline and diesel that power cars and trucks. But above all, it is imperative for state leaders to enact policies that prevent the influx of carbon intensive tar sands fuels.

last revised 1/22/2014

All Tags [ View Popular Tags ]:
60mpg
AB 1493
AB 32
agriculture
air pollution
air toxics
alabama
algae
alternative fuels
AnthonySwift
Appalachia
appliances
Arctic
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
asthma
automakers
aviation
beaches
biochar
biodiesel
biofuels
biogas
biomass
birds
boreal forest
BrianSiu
budget
CaiSteger
California
California environmental legislation
Canada
cap 2.0
cap and trade
carbon footprint
carbon offsets
carbon pollution
cars
case studies
causes of global warming
CCS
CFLs
Chile
china
CHP
Clean air
Clean Air Act
clean energy
clean energy economy
clean vehicles
cleantech
climate
climate change
climate legislation
clothes dryers
cloud computing
coal
coal-fired power plants
compact fluorescent lighting
compact fluorescents
computer equipment
Congress
consumer products
coral
cover crop
CPS
DabbieHammel
Danielle Droitsch
DanielleDroitsch
data centers
DebbieHammel
deforestation
demand side management
DerekMurrow
DevraWang
DianeBailey
diesel
diesel buses
diesel exhaust
dirty fuels
dod
dolphins
drilling
economy
efficiency
efficient light bulbs
efficient vehicles
electric cars
electric utilities
electric vehicles
electricity
electricity and natural gas utlities
ElizabethShope
emissions
energy efficiency
energy efficiency standard
energy efficient buildings
energy efficient light bulbs
energy effiency
energy plan
energy policy
energy security
energyappropriations
energyapprops
energy-efficient bulbs
environmental history
environmental protection agency
EPA
ethanol
finance
fish & fishing
FL
florida
Forests
fracking
fracking risks
FranzMetzner
fuel
fuel economy
fuel efficiency
fuel efficiency standards
fuel savings
gas drilling
gas prices
gasoline
gis
global warming
global warming and the economy
global warming emissions
global warming legislation
global warming pollution
globalwarming
green building
green buildings
green business
green jobs
green sports
greenhouse gas emissions
Gulf
gulf of mexico
gulfofmexico
gulfspill
halogen bulbs
halogen lightbulbs
health
health effects
home energy
home networks
household energy use
HUD
human health
Hurricane Katrina
hybrid
hybrid cars
hybrid electric vehicles
hybrid vehicles
hybrids
hydraulic fractring
hydraulic fracturing
hydrogen
incandescent lighbulbs
incandescent light bulbs
India
India Initiative
indoor air quality
infrastructure efficiency
interiorappropriations
interiorapprops
JacksonMorris
jobs
KatharineMcCormick
keystone
Keystone XL
Kids' Health
KXL
Latin America
LCFS
lead
LEDs
light
light bulbs
light emitting diodes
liquid coal
livestock farms
location efficiency
Los Angeles
louisiana
LukeTonachel
mapping
Marcellus Shale
Massachusetts
mercury
methane
Mexico
mid-Atlantic
Middle East
mining
mississippi
Missouri
Montana
mountains
mountaintop removal mining
mtr
natural gas
natural gas drilling
NEPA
New York
Nigeria
nitrogen oxides
NoahHorowitz
North Dakota
Northeast states
nrdc offices
nuclear energy
oceans
offshore
offshore drilling
offshore oil
ohio
oil
oil and gas industry
oil consumption
oil dependence
oil drilling
oil imports
oil shale
oil spill
oil spills
oilspill
OPEC
open space
ozone
particulate pollution
pennsylvania
Persian Gulf
photos
PierreDelforge
pipeline
policy
pollution
power plants
PTC
public lands
public transportation
rail
refrigerants
regional greenhouse gas initiative
regulatory reform
renewable energy
renewable fuel
renewables
residential small networks
respiratory illness
RGGI
riders
Rocky Mountains
RPS
Russia
SashaLyuste
SashaStashwick
SB 315
schools
server rooms
servers
shell
smart biomass
smart grid
smart growth
smog
smog air pollution
solar
solar power
solutions
soot
Southeast
sulfur dioxide
SusanCasey-Lefkowitz
sustainable sourcing
tar sands
tar sands pipeline
tar sands; keystone xl
tax incentives
tax subsidies
television
tennessee
texas
toxic waste
trailbreaker
transit
transportation
transportation bill
trasnportation
tv
tvs
utilities
VEETC
vehicle
vehicle emissions
vehicles
Venezuela
video game consoles
wastewater
water efficiency
Water Pollution
wetlands
whales
what you can do
wind
wind power
wind turbines
Share | |
Find NRDC on
YouTube