Many people have heard that the Tar Sands Project in Alberta, Canada is one of the most environmentally destructive oil projects ever, but it’s hard to appreciate until you hear the details. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see in person. Just how far will we go for crude? Consider this excerpt from a telling article published in National Geographic:
“To extract each barrel of oil from a surface mine, the industry must first cut down the forest, then remove an average of two tons of peat and dirt that lie above the oil sands layer, then two tons of the sand itself. It must heat several barrels of water to strip the bitumen from the sand and upgrade it, and afterward it discharges contaminated water into tailings ponds like the one near Mildred Lake.”
Cutting down forest, moving 4 tons of earth, using lots of water which is heated by natural gas, and then finding somewhere to store all the waste water, and we still haven’t transported it (all this effort for one barrel mind you) to market!
The next phase involves the construction of the appropriately controversial “Keystone XL Pipeline,” which thankfully is drawing disapproval in the wake of the recent pipeline spill in Montana. The project is a proposed extension of existing pipelines that will carry the Tar Sands crude all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.The two pipelines are “very similar,” notes Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) International Program Director Susan Casey-Lefkowitz. The EPA also released a negative critique of the State Department’s analysis of the Pipeline, citing numerous concerns including likelihood of spills (especially as they relate to groundwater), increased refinery pollution, global warming pollution, wetlands destruction, risks associated with migratory birds