The capacity to produce petroleum coke (petcoke) in American refineries has doubled since 1999, largely because of the ongoing boom in Canadian oil sands production. Graphic: Oil Change International / data from Energy Information Administration

By JOHN M. BRODER
17 January 2013

(The New York Times) – Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline and the heavy Canadian crude oil that it would carry released two reports on Thursday asserting that the environmental impacts of the project are worse than previously estimated, and urged the Obama administration to veto it.

One report, from the anti-petroleum group Oil Change International, finds that existing studies of emissions from mining, transporting and refining the oil from oil sands formations in Alberta fails to account for the impact of petroleum coke, or petcoke. The study states that because petcoke is considered a refinery byproduct, its emissions are not included in calculation of the climate impact of exploiting Canadian oil sands.

The study says that the petcoke produced from oil moving through the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would be equivalent to the coal burned at five conventional power plants.

The second study, from the Canadian environmental research group Pembina, says that construction of the pipeline would bring rapid expansion of tar sands mining and greatly increase overall greenhouse gas emissions.

“Filling the Keystone XL pipeline with oils and crude will create significant greenhouse gases regardless of whether other transport options move forward,” said Nathan Lemphers, a researcher at Pembina. “Because Canada does not have a credible plan for responsibly developing the oil sands, including reducing emissions so Canada can meet its climate commitments, the pipeline should not go ahead.” [more]

2 Reports on Oil Sands Paint a Dire Picture

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