Frances Beinecke, President of NRDC, New York City
Since President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil, some pundits have claimed that Canada’s tar sands oil must be “set free.” Energy companies, they insinuate, are at the mercy of America’s shifting energy policies. Even Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken to saying tar sands oil is “captive” to the U.S. market.
Unwanted is more like it. America imports some tar sands oil, but expanding U.S. dependence on this polluting fuel is not in our national interest. It’s a bad product, and we don’t need more of it. And energy companies angling for bigger profits shouldn’t play the victim.
America remains a trusted trade partner for Canada’s conventional oil. We buy more oil from Canada than from any other nation, including Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, or Iraq.
But just because we buy their conventional oil doesn’t mean we have to buy their tar sands oil too. Tar sands oil is the worst of the dirty fuels. Strip mining tar sands from the Boreal Forest, separating the oil from the sand, upgrading it, and refining it uses so much energy it generates three times ...
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