TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

New 'pollutant' issue emerges in Keystone pipeline controversy

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Washington Post
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

Most-Read Nation

  1. Man caught jumping White House fence
  2. Coast Guard to seek billions to protect Arctic interests
  3. Academic scandal at University of North Carolina bigger than previously reported
  4. Coburn’s final ‘Wastebook’ tallies $25B in what he considers ‘pork’
  5. 8 arrested in post-game riots in Morgantown
  6. 4 private security guards convicted
  7. Personal use of Secret Service agents on staffer’s behalf draws investigaton
  8. Navy civilian goes on trial for diverting $2M to brother of his boss
  9. Ferguson slaying of Brown reconstructed in county autopsy
  10. Social Security recipients to get increase in benefits
  11. Security at Capitol questioned
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.