Is Tar Sands Oil Dirtier Than Regular Crude? EU Says 'No'

Jungbim via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Does this look dirty to you? Seems pretty filthy to me ...
The European Union is pursuing an effort to label tar sands oil exported from Canada as particularly dirty, in an initiative called the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). Labeling tar sands crude as exceptionally polluting under the FQD would allow the EU to levy higher taxes on the crude, essentially penalizing its greater toll on society.

The move, on every count, appears justified: tar sands oil is more carbon intensive than regular kinds of oil. It's more difficult to extract, and more energy is expended refining the stuff than conventional crude. And the tar sands operation in general has been labeled "the most destructive project on earth" due to the pollution, deforestation, and contamination it causes.

But the effort failed to pass a vote today, Reuters reports, after some intense lobbying from the Canadian government. From the story:

A meeting of EU technical experts failed to approve a proposal to label fuel from Alberta's vast tar sands as more polluting than other sources of crude ... Canada had campaigned against the idea, saying it was unjustified and could help discriminate against its oil ...
The FQD would aim to slash the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel fuels by 6% over the next eight years. And Canada still pays lip service to that aim:

"We have never objected to the Fuel Quality Directive's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions for transportation fuels used in Europe. We object to any discriminatory treatment that singles out oil sands fuels without sound scientific justification," Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told Reuters, spouting the sort of doublespeak we've come to expect from fossil fuels advocates. Part of the reason the FQD effort failed this go round extends beyond Canada's direct influence, however—the French corporation Total and Royal Dutch Shell both have stakes in the tar sands operation.

Tags: European Union | Oil | Tar Sands

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