As we move into an era where peak oil production is behind us, we need to focus our efforts on developing new energy resources. We can’t afford to stand by and allow dirtier, more expensive, and less efficient tar sand oil become the energy that drives our nation. What is tar sand oil?
Tar sand oil is harvested in Alberta, Canada. Thousands of acres of pristine, ancient forest are clear cut (see picture below) so refineries have access to the soil. The soil, called tar sand, contains a small amount of oil that can be harvested through chemical processes. Comparing input energy (the energy required to set up refineries, transport crews and supplies, and power the chemical reactions) versus the energy yield, tar sand oil production is one of the least efficient methods of harvesting oil. In fact, oil companies have only started harvesting tar sands quite recently, as we run out of options to satiate our oil addiction.
In production, tar sand oil is inefficient; in transportation, it is very dangerous. Because tar sand oil production relies on a heavy cocktail of chemicals, and because the oil is more corrosive than conventional oil (oil from tar sands contains 5 – 10x more sulfur than conventional oil), pipeline ruptures and spills are more likely.
In our own country, the US government is in the process of approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, an oil pipeline that would cross six states and the Ogallala Aquifier. This pipeline would be putting almost 30 percent of our country’s agricultural water at risk of a spill.
Please urge your congressman to support a greener future in America and do not let tar sands destroy our land and drinking water.
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