Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Stop the Tar Sands Oil Rush [Illinois]

Stop the Tar Sands Oil Rush
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Major oil companies want to use Illinois as a major artery for bringing dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. market — with enormous consequences for our local environment and our global climate.


In an area of Canada larger than Florida, well beneath Alberta’s boreal forest, lies not oil but bitumen – a solid hydrocarbon at room temperature requiring complex, energy-intensive methods of extraction to acquire and refine into synthetic crude oil. With over $100 billion in capital development flowing into Alberta, this area, known as the Alberta tar sands, is quickly becoming one of America’s primary sources of oil.

Tar sands oil is produced through a destructive process with deplorable environmental consequences. Vast portions of the boreal forest must be razed for bitumen extraction. According to the Pembina Institute, extraction and processing for just one barrel of synthetic crude oil may require up to five barrels of fresh water and 1500 cubic feet of natural gas.

Meanwhile, tar sands development is already posing air, water and land pollution issues here at home. In Illinois, refineries like BP’s Whiting refinery on the shores of Lake Michigan, have asked for permission to increase their air and water pollution to handle such dirty oil. Companies like Enbridge and TransCanada seek to line the Midwest, including Illinois farmland, with new pipelines to transport synthetic crude oil.

Perhaps the most worrisome consequence of tar sands oil is the large increase in global warming pollution. The production of a barrel of tar sands synthetic crude oil generates, on average, three times greater greenhouse gas emissions than conventional light or medium crude oil.

And the damage has only just begun: annual production of synthetic crude oil from the Alberta tar sands is expected to at least triple by 2015, with demand fueled principally by the U.S. market.

Environment Illinois is working to counteract the tar sand oil rush by:

Opposing pipeline expansion throughout our state and the invocation of eminent domain to take land from Illinois residents to create new pipeline pathways;
Opposing refinery expansion and upgrading to handle dirty tar sands oil;
Advocating passage of low-carbon fuel standard legislation in Illinois that includes a lifecycle carbon emissions method of evaluation;
Stopping federal legislative efforts to provide tax breaks for further reliance on tar sands oil; and Raising awareness of our reliance on tar sands oil through media outlets and ensuring that the full story of environmental consequences is told.


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