Obama Admits Canadian Tar Sands' Carbon Footprint a Problem (Phew...)


photo: Steve Loo via flickr

It’s no secret, and safe to say, that TreeHugger isn’t supportive of extraction oil from tar sands in Canada (or from oil shale in the Rockies for the matter). The carbon emissions compared to other fossil fuels sources are through the roof, the water required to produce them is beyond excessive, and the waste afterwards is a nightmare. We've called the Alberta tar sands the most environmentally destructive project on Earth, and a UN official said that the mines looked like something out of Tolkein’s Mordor. Which is why President Obama’s statements about them, prior to his upcoming trip to Canada, are encouraging (at least somewhat):

What we know is that oil sands create a big carbon footprint. So the dilemma that Canada faces, the United States faces, and China and the entire world faces is how do we obtain the energy that we need to grow our economies in a way that is not rapidly accelerating climate change.

Good. He at least acknowledges that there is a fundamental disconnect between continuing to develop oil sands projects and having any hope of addressing climate change. Am I reading to much into the statement? Maybe. I hope not.

US, Canada Can Collaborate on Carbon Capture Tech

I think to the extent that Canada and the United States can collaborate on ways that we can sequester carbon, capture greenhouse gases before they’re emitted into the atmosphere, that’s going to be good for everybody.

This is the ‘at least somewhat’ part: Leaving aside the fact that there are serious doubts regarding the large-scale commercial viability of carbon capture projects, even suggesting by juxtaposition that CCS will make tar sands an environmentally acceptable solution to US needs is ludicrous.

Obama Should Come Out Strongly Against Tar Sands
Perhaps the statement was made for the sake of political politeness with an ally to the north. But, I for one would prefer the President take a stronger stand on the issue and state that the US will not support further development of petroleum from non-conventional sources such as tar sands, as well as our own oil shale reserves.

The US has plenty of renewable energy potential and technological know-how to develop that potential so as not have to look to Canada for energy. The real question is whether we have the political will not to do so.

via: Yahoo News/AP
Tar Sands
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Tags: Barack Obama | Canada | Carbon Emissions | Carbon Sequestration | Energy | Oil | United States

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