The oil sands and accumulating CO2

2010-05-10

in Canada, Politics, The environment

Over at DeSmogBlog, there is a good post about Canada’s oil sands, and why their cumulative greenhouse gas emissions are their most significant environmental consequence.

The most worrisome thing about the oil sands is that they do most of their damage when they are operating properly – not when they are killing ducks, or when toxic liquids are leaking out of tailings ponds. What makes them really harmful is the extraction, processing, and (especially) use of the oil they contain. As such, efforts to make them more environmentally friendly are ultimately doomed to be limited in scope.

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. January 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Oil sands should be left in the ground: NASA scientist

Bob Weber and Sylvia Strojek

One of NASA’s top scientists has told a panel reviewing a proposed oil sands mine in northern Alberta that the resource should simply be left in the ground.

James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies says allowing new developments such as Total E&P Canada’s $9-billion plan to build the Joslyn North mine would make it too hard to manage the impact of climate change.

“The simple message is the oil sands may appear to be gold. We do need energy and there’s a lot of potential energy in the oil sands,” Mr. Hansen said Tuesday during a break from public hearings in Sherwood Park, Alta.

“But it is fool’s gold because it’s going to be clear and understood within a reasonably brief period of time that we cannot exploit unconventional fossil fuels like tar sands and tar shale. If we do, we’re going to have to suck the CO2 back out of the atmosphere and the estimated cost of doing that is $200 to $500 a tonne of carbon.”

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