Washington (January 16, 2008) -- Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is on a trade mission to Washington, D.C., today where he is expected to seek American support for, and investment in, one of the dirtiest sources of unconventional fuels – the Canadian tar sands. Tar sands oil production generates almost three times the global warming emissions as conventional oil production, due to the massive amounts of energy needed to extract, upgrade and refine the oil.
“Oil from the tar sands is about our energy past, not our future. Political and business leaders who want to fight global warming should be concerned about expanding U.S. imports of tar sands fuel,” said Liz Barratt-Brown, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The U.S. should not rely on a dirty fuel that results in the destruction of Canada's biologically rich boreal forest for tar sands mining and drilling.”
Concern about tar sands fuel is growing in the United States. Last summer, British Petroleum (BP) was forced to table expansion plans to take more tar sands oil at its Whiting, Indiana, refinery after concerns about added pollution in Lake Michigan were made known to the public. Opposition is growing around plans to build the first new refinery in 30 years in South Dakota, a new 1,800 mile trans-boundary pipeline from the tar sands to the Midwest, and proposed expansions of many of the refineries in that region. Last week, NRDC asked the airline industry to publicly oppose the use of fuel made from highly polluting sources
,including tar sands, and called on the companies to join a campaign seeking increased investment in cleaner fuels throughout the airline industry.
“Canada risks becoming an international pariah for promoting the tar sands instead of joining the fight against climate change” said Tzeporah Berman of ForestEthics in Canada. “The bottom line is Stelmach should put the brakes on tar sands expansion and address the rising environmental and social concerns instead of running around Washington like an oil salesman.”
“Emissions from tar sands are so much greater than conventional oil that using more of this oil will significantly undermine the global commitment to combat climate change,” said Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International.
“The future of the West is clean energy, not dirty oil piped-in from the Tar Sands,” said Bruce Baizel of EARTHWORKS, and located in Colorado. “Here in the West, we won’t sacrifice our climate or the Boreal Forest of our northern neighbors just to fill our gas tanks.”
An area the size of Florida could be directly affected by strip mining and drilling for the tar-like substance that is turned into transportation fuel. Huge amounts of natural gas and water are used and neighboring Aboriginal populations are experiencing rare cancers suspected to be caused by toxic substances that have leached downstream from tar sands production. Also at risk is Alberta’s northern boreal forest, the largest terrestrial storehouse of climate regulating carbon and the nesting ground for millions of songbirds and waterfowl.