New 'pollutant' issue emerges in Keystone pipeline controversy
By The Washington Post
Published: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 7:26 p.m.
With the State Department close to completing a new environmental impact statement on the revised Keystone XL pipeline plan, environmental groups are struggling to keep pressure on the Obama administration to block the 1,700-mile-long project that would link Alberta's oil sands to Texas coast refineries.
Last week, an advocacy group, Oil Change International, released a report that said estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development failed to include emissions from a byproduct of refining oil sands crude — a coal-like substance known as petroleum coke.
When burned as fuel, petroleum coke — or petcoke — emits 5 to 10 percent more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than coal, the report by the Washington-based group says. And though some of the plentiful petroleum coke produced by oil sands upgraders or refineries is stored, much of it is sold at low prices to power plants or industry.
The report asserts that counting petroleum coke use would raise estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development by 13 percent beyond earlier estimates used by the State Department.
The Oil Change International report isn't the first or only one highlighting petcoke.
Deborah Gordon, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who wrote about the petroleum coke issue in a December report, said that if Keystone XL begins moving diluted raw bitumen to the United States, “this co-product —which is essentially 90-plus percent carbon and a dirtier substitute for coal — can no longer be ignored.”
TransCanada dismissed the Oil Change International report as “the latest attempt by professional activists who oppose Keystone XL to change the discussion” and said that “there is nothing new in this document.” The company said that crude derived from oil sands was no worse than heavy oils from California, Mexico or Venezuela.
Supporters of the pipeline say that President Obama should approve the project anyway.
“It once again boils down to a political decision by the White House: Will they follow what's in the best interest of the country or will they follow other political pressures?” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Health marketplace targets not signing up, survey shows
- El Nino could bring relief to U.S.
- Shuster plans oversight for DUI program
- Sex-crimes prosecutor accused in groping
- Former National Security Agency contractor Snowden’s leaks to cost billions, take years to fix
- ‘Senior officers should not do that,’ Army leader says in pleading guilty to misconduct charges
- Crisis stymies Obama getaway
- Maryland bill would link criminal, gun owners data
- House foils Obama’s new power plant limits on carbon pollution
- Gillibrand sex assault bill halted by fellow Democrat
- Mummified remains found in foreclosed home