More on tar sands

Apparently several of my friends, along with 800+ other people, were arrested yesterday at a Washington protest against the Transcanadia Pipeline. Upon discovering this, I decided I should educate myself a big more on the issues involved in tar sands. I am familiar with the pollution aspects of tar sands, which are far worse than coal and crude, but knew little about the pipeline itself. Since Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award nominated documentary “Gasland,” is part of this movement, and a friend of mine, I knew right away I’d be getting my hands dirty.

Some key findings involving the politics:

Hundreds of protesters—including famed climate researcher James Hansen—have been arrested in protests in front of the White House over the past two weeks, in an attempt to stop the construction of a pipeline from Canada to Texas to carry diluted tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, mainly over concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and risks of tainting a nearby water aquifer. (National Geographic)

Keystone XL is an export pipeline. According to presentations to investors, Gulf Coast refiners plan to refine the cheap Canadian crude supplied by the pipeline into diesel and other products for export to Europe and Latin America. Proceeds from these exports are earned tax-free. (

The 1,700-mile long Keystone XL, as it’s called, would help our friendly northern neighbor expand development in one of the largest, but dirtiest, sources of oil on the planet. It’s bound up in hardened formations called tar sands, and it’s not easy to extract. (NPR)

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