Waxman Tells Obama To Just Say No To Tar Sands Pipeline

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photo via flickr

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman penned the first climate change bill ever to pass the House. Now, with those credentials to support him, Waxman is asking President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to say no to a proposed $7 billion pipeline that would bring Canadian oil sands all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Oil from tar sands is extremely carbon intensive, with some estimates finding that tar sands oil has 37 percent more greenhouse gases than so called conventional fossil fuels. Waxman says that its not in the "national interest" to move forward. The State Department is now deciding TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline, which is estimated extend 2,000 miles, is the right thing to do. Waxman wrote: "This pipeline is a multibillion dollar investment to expand our reliance on the dirtiest source of transportation fuel currently available."

The State Department did an environmental analysis of the project, which would include a pipeline from Texas to Alberta, Canada. But Waxman says that the analysis failed to include the effects of additional greenhouse gas pollution. The global warming impacts "are the most significant environmental problem associated with the project," Waxman wrote.

Waxman also wrote:

My concern is that this project would have a major adverse impact on the carbon intensity of U.S. transportation fuel. The problem is that oil can be extracted from the tar sands only by using three times the energy required to produce a barrel of conventional oil. Studies estimate that shifting to tar sands fuel increases lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 37 compared to the baseline fuel supply. Based on a mid-range estimate of the impacts, increasing the use of tar sands fuel to over 3 million barrels per day would increase lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for transportation in the United States by an amount equivalent to adding 18 million passenger vehicles to the roads.

Stay tuned for the State Department's decision, which is expected in the fall. if you are in Washington, D.C., there is rally Thursday in front of the Canadian embassy.

More on tar sands:
Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth
Alberta Tar Sands: A North American Overview