Energy Held Hostage
A rare voice of sanity intrudes on the Detroit Free Press
' editorial page. With all of the focus on the renewable energy sources, we tend to forget that, at least for now, whether we like it or not, the world's economy runs on oil . . . black gold . . . Texas tea. I'm sure the Free Press has been receiving furious emails throughout the day for having the audacity to run a column that calls for using the oil we can get to, but they did run it. The Free Press does run contrary opinions occasionally. This is one of them.
At a time when saying anything good about fossil fuels is like declaring war on the environment, it may seem like wishful thinking to press for an expansion of U.S. oil refining capacity.
Yet it is precisely this sort of thinking that is necessary if we are to make use of a vast, secure and reliable supply of fuel from Canada's oil sands.
The tar sands hold an estimated 174 billion barrels of crude oil, making Canada's oil sands deposits second only to Saudi Arabia in global reserves. The United States currently obtains a million barrels of oil a day from Canada's tar sands. With planned investments, the daily supply could exceed 3 million barrels by 2015.
But extracting heavy oil from tar sands and transporting it by pipeline for refining is a difficult and costly process. Producers are developing new drilling techniques to reduce the large volumes of natural gas and water needed to separate the oil from sand. And the oil companies, which have pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions in their operations, are making the needed investments to meet environmental regulations.
But then there are the environmentalists who want to hold our economy hostage.
Although President George W. Bush has publicly welcomed production of Canadian tar sands oil, Congress last year passed legislation that prohibits the government from using alternative fuels that have a larger carbon footprint than conventional oil.
As a result, the U.S. Defense Department is unable to use jet fuel made from tar sands oil even though greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of tar sands oil have fallen 32% since 1990.
Now California is moving to disallow the use of tar sands oil under a recently approved low-carbon fuels standard sought by environmental groups, and Illinois is among a dozen states also considering such a standard. Environment Illinois has vowed to challenge any refinery expansion or modification permits that would facilitate greater use of tar sands oil, and has asked the Great Lakes state governors to impose such a ban.
It's time to create a grass root fight to free our economy from the dictatorial restraints of the environmental lobby.
Labels: energy, environment, Oil