Canadian Tar Sands: Still Super Dirty, Even With the Best Carbon Capture & Storage Technology

tar sands protest photo
Want some more evidence that squeezing oil out of Canada's tar sands is just a horrendous idea? Here it is: New analysis from WWF shows that even with carbon capture and storage technology, the emissions for tar sands-based oil are still well in excess of conventionally-produced oil. Not to mention that CCS does nothing to address the other environmental issues associated with tar sands production.

Only 50% Reduction in Upstream Emissions Possible
According to the report Carbon Capture and Storage in the Alberta Tar Sands, CCS "has limited potential to reduce upstream emissions to levels comparable with the average for conventional oil," with "even the most optimistic estimates from industry experts" showing reductions in the 10-30% range in the medium term and up to 50% in the long term. WWF says reductions of 85% would be required to reduce the emissions from tar sands extraction to be comparable to conventional oil production.

Even by 2050, the report says, CCS technology will be insufficient for fuel derived from tar sands to qualify under emerging low-carbon fuel standards, such as those in California and the European Union.

...And 11% in Full Lifecycle Analysis
But that's just upstream emissions: On a full lifecycle basis, the report concludes, "emission reduction potential is likely in the 7-11% range."

Read the full report: Carbon Capture and Storage in the Alberta Tar Sands [PDF]

Tar sands protest, photo: Tavis Ford via flickr.
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