Canadian Tar Sands Will Cost U.S., NWF Tells House Panel

Controversial Extreme Energy Will Bring High Prices and More Dependence on Fossil Fuels

04-01-2011 // Tony Iallonardo

A Congressional committee today gave the oil industry a platform to tout highcarbon and expensive dirty fuels know as tar sands as a “solution” for the nation’s energy security. NWF provided the counterpoint at the proceedings, making clear that tar sands are a dangerous bet that will damage the environment and economy.

NWF Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education Jeremy Symons told a House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Thursday that shooting tar sands sludge through 2,000 miles of pipeline splicing through the heart of America will bring higher oil prices and not bring us one step closer to energy self-sufficiency because the refined oil will be exported to other countries. Symons quoted the CEO of Valero Energy, one of the companies planning to use the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. That official argues that “the future of refining in the U.S. is in exports.”

The true motivation behind the $14 billion Keystone XL pipeline is price manipulation, Symons contended. TransCanada, the company building the pipeline, has said that Canadian oil companies would gain $4 billion a year and by limiting supply to the Midwest and re-routing it to Gulf Coast refineries. Canadian heavy crude prices will increase by $6.55 per barrel in the Midwest and by $3 per barrel everywhere else.

The turmoil in oil-rich North Africa and the Middle East “underscores our dangerous addiction to oil and the high price we pay due to the instability of global oil markets,” Symons told Congress. Canadian tar sludge is “the most destructive source of oil on the planet.”

Symons said environmental havoc is plain to see -- strip-mined wasteland, toxic lakes and toxic waste leaks that contaminate water and fish. Tar sands operations in Alberta have already wiped out pristine forests, home to abundant wildlife, and toxic lakes are killing migratory birds and other wildlife. Carbon emissions from tar sands production are three times greater than emissions from conventional oil.

Instead of pursuing more extreme oil schemes, NWF says the nation should invest in clean energy like wind and solar, while cutting demand by creating more transportation choices like high-speed rail and accelerating the development of more energy-efficient technologies for cars and buildings. New, proposed fuel economy standards, for example, could cut gasoline demand by a third over the next 20 years, four times the oil that would slosh through Keystone XL.

Symons' full testimony is here.

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