Common Dreams - Scientists and advocates unveiled new research showing that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would damage the climate much more than previously thought, by dramatically expanding tar sands production and because it will lead to increased combustion of a particularly dirty form of oil.
Oil Change International’s new report “Petroleum Coke: The Coal Hiding in the Tar Sands” reveals that current analyses of the impacts of tar sands fail to account for a high-carbon byproduct of the refining process that is a major source of climate change causing carbon emissions: petroleum coke—known as petcoke. Because it is considered a refinery byproduct, petcoke emissions are not included in most assessments of the climate impact of tar sands. Thus, the climate impact of oil production is being consistently undercounted.
Petcoke is commonly used as a cheaper, more carbon-intensive substitute to coal—and the petcoke in tar sands is turning American refineries into coal factories.
EPA’s existing figures, which do not include petcoke-related emissions, already paint a troubling picture. They suggest that simply replacing 830,000 bpd of conventional crude with the tar sands in the Keystone XL pipeline would increase US carbon dioxide emissions by 27.6 million metric tons per year, or the equivalent of adding nearly 6 million cars on the road.