Tar Sands Fuel: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

We like to think of Vermont as a “green” state; but, when it comes to just getting around, we have failed, so far, to be very proactive.

Our public transportation alternatives for moving around the state are abysmal; so much so that a few years ago, I recall reading that we have the highest carbon footprint per capita of any state in the nation.

Now, that negative impact threatens to grow even greater, as a steadily increasing volume of tar-sands-derived gasoline fills our tanks and chokes the landscape around us.

Quoting from a Natural Resources Defense Council report,  the Vermont Natural Resource Council tells us:

The NRDC report found that under current plans, tar sands-derived gasoline supplies in 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including Vermont, would soar from less than one percent of the total in 2012 to 11.5 percent of the total by 2020, due to increased imports from Canadian refineries, fresh supplies of refined tar sands fuels from Gulf Coast refineries, and quantities from East Coast refineries that would obtain tar sands crude via rail and barge.

According to Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Canada Project Director,

“Dirty gasoline supplies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are set to rise significantly, unless states take steps to keep out high-carbon fuel,” said Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Canada Project Director.  “By 2015 the volume of tar sands-derived fuel in the Northeast could grow sixfold, compared to 2012. This shows how important it is to move as quickly as possible to clean energy of all types.”

The VNRC reminds us that Vermont has made a commitment to reducing green-house gas emissions by 50-percent, as of 2028; and by 75-percent, as of 2050.  That’s a commendable goal, but much of the value of those reductions will be lost if the emissions we do produce come from significantly dirtier fuel sources, like the Canadian tar sands.

Says Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation’s Vermont office:

“Tar sands expansion – which requires leveling the land and stripmining the fuel – is threatening to turn much of North America’s most productive bird nursery into a Mordor-like wasteland,” he said. “We need to keep this dirtiest of fuels in the ground, not in our tanks.”

Cheap gas isn’t cheap at all, when you consider what lies not very far ahead if we accept the growing exploitation of tar sands fuels.

We, the consumers must make it clear to our representatives that we do not want to fuel our present-day transportation needs at the expense of the planet’s future.

Ask our legislature to take a stand against tar sands oil, and tell President Obama that Vermont doesn’t support the Keystone XL pipeline.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

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