Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Leaked cable reveals concerns over tar sands oil

Leaked cable reveals concerns over tar sands oil
By Ed Brayton | 12.08.10 |
The Michigan Messenger

One of the documents released by WikiLeaks, a diplomatic document sent to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in advance of a presidential visit to Ottawa, Canada, reveals concerns about the higher environmental cost of Canadian tar sands oil compared to regular crude oil.

The cable, sent by the Charge D’Affaires of the Canadian Mission, highlights Canadian concerns that the president’s environmental promises could influence America’s importation of tar sands oil from that country:

Canadians wish that more Americans would recognize that Canada is the largest source of imported energy for the U.S. (including for both oil and natural gas), although there is also keen sensitivity over the higher environmental
footprint of oil from western Canada’s oil sands and concern about the implications for Canada of your energetic calls to
develop renewable energies and reduce our reliance on imported oil.

Canada provides the largest portion of the oil imported by the U.S. by a wide margin but much of that oil comes from the Alberta tar sands. Tar sands oil is much higher in heavy metals than regular crude oil and it requires enormous amounts of water and energy to extract the oil from the shale deposits it is locked in.

Sec. of State Clinton is likely to approve the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will carry that thick crude from Alberta all the way to refineries in Houston, Texas. Environmentalists and state officials from states through which this pipeline will pass have raised serious concerns about the safety of the project and the higher greenhouse gasses produced by tar sands crude.

The Lakehead 6B pipeline that burst in Calhoun County in July, spewing a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, was carrying that same heavy crude. Pipeline experts note that tar sands crude causes pressure monitors in pipelines to give off thousands of false pressure warnings a day, making it more difficult to know when a real pressure problem has developed in the lines.


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