|Written by alice freda|
|Thursday, 29 September 2011 11:18|
The Department of Energy (DOE) just released its first Quadrennial Technology Review – a broad overview meant to inform the country on future energy strategy. Its main finding was (surprise surprise) that America’s reliance on oil is the greatest immediate threat to U.S. economic and national security and is a major contributor to climate change.
Decreasing the country’s reliance on oil has been a talking point for decades – yet we find ourselves today as reliant on oil for transportation as we were fifty years ago. And while U.S. dependence on imported oil has declined since peaking in 2005, the total volume of oil consumption continues its upward trajectory.
The recent trend of declining oil imports has been the result of a variety of factors including a brief decline in consumption due to the economic downturn, improvements in efficiency, increased use of domestic biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel), and gains in the domestic production of oil. But two-year projections by the EIA are showing increases in demand for oil. And rather than focusing on electrifying our auto-fleet and promoting mass adoption of alternative vehicle engines like gasoline and plug-in hybrids, the federal government is about to rubber stamp the Keystone XL pipeline because it would ease the flow of oil from our friendly neighbor to the north.
In fact, many of our elected officials are heralding the Keystone Pipeline and the source of its oil, the Alberta Tar Sands, as the answer to having to rely upon “hostile nations” like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Angola, Iran, and Venezuela for our oil needs. However, this claim falls flat on several points. First, the United States only imports around 50% of the total oil it uses. Of this half, the top two exporting countries are Canada (which is number one by far) and Mexico. Second, building the pipeline has the potential to undermine America's and the world’s clean energy future, by giving the Alberta Tar Sands a hugely expanded market. Tar sands oil production is between 3 and 5 times more energy intensive (per barrel) than conventional oil production – meaning there is much more CO2 emissions related to tar sands oil than standard oil. This does not take into account the massive ecosystem disruption that results from stripping thousands of acres of old growth forest to reach the tar sands, leaving vast ponds of toxic mine tailings in its wake.
*But here’s where the interesting part of the equation comes in. The Keystone XL Pipeline would connect Alberta’s tar sands to Houston’s oil refineries, but there are zero stipulations in the Keystone XL Pipeline deal stating that the tar sands oil will be destined for American pumps. In fact, the United States is already the world’s 12th largest oil EXPORTER and with massive new supply from the pipeline, the country could rise in that ranking. This is because many countries around the world do not have adequate refining capacity (you need to refine crude oil before you can use it as vehicle gasoline). The United States (and specifically Texas) has some of the largest refineries on earth and export refined oil to countries all over the world.
Click HERE to learn more about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.
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