U.S. should weigh impact of Canada oil sands: report

Wed Jun 4, 2008 6:23pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - U.S. regulators should weigh the environmental impact of oil sands extraction in Canada before granting permits for pipelines that will carry the rising flood of Canadian crude to refineries in the United States, a green group said on Wednesday.

The recommendation was one of several in a report by the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project on massive expansions and retoolings of U.S. refineries aimed at running more oil derived from the oil sands of northern Alberta.

The report, called "Tar Sands: Feeding U.S. Refinery Expansions with Dirty Fuel," said two-thirds of 1.6 million barrels a day of planned refinery capacity additions target oil sands feedstock.

The report, coauthored by an Environmental Defense Canada representative, details a list of ways that oil sands development and extraction exacerbates climate change, air pollution and the shrinking of the boreal forest.

But it stops short of calling for a halt to oil sands development or U.S. imports of such crude.

"When we talk about oil, we're talking about reducing reliance and moving away from it. We know that takes time -- we are pragmatists here," EIP director Eric Schaeffer said.

"But those first steps start with an awareness of what it means to get your oil from that source. This is a very intensely wasteful way of feeding the oil habit," Schaeffer told a conference call with reporters.

Apart from 17 refinery expansions and five new plants under construction or consideration in the United States, the study identified another 827,120 barrels of existing refining capacity being converted to run oil sands crude.   Continued...