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Tar sands to skyrocket West Coast's climate and air pollution

Staff writer |
The Pacific coast faces a looming health, climate, and environmental crisis posed by an influx of tar sands fuel from oil interests in Alberta, Canada.




This is according to new analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), NextGen Climate America, ForestEthics, and a coalition of 27 partner organizations.

The tar sands industry's long term goal to triple production will require flooding both Gulf and West Coast heavy crude refineries with tar sands crude in coming decades.

The increased transport of tar sands by rail, pipeline, barge, and ocean tankers will threaten the water and air quality of hundreds of communities, heighten the risk of tar sands oil spills and explosions, and reverse decades of public health, energy, and climate successes from California to British Columbia.

"The West Coast is about to fall victim to a tar sands invasion, unless our leaders choose to protect the health and safety of our communities and say no to Big Oil," said Anthony Swift, Deputy-Director of NRDC's Canada Project.

"New tar sands proposals on the West Coast would increase the region's carbon emissions and create more than two and a half times the carbon emissions of San Francisco. At a time when the nation is moving toward a clean energy future, there is no reason to welcome the dirtiest oil on the planet into our communities."

The report, West Coast Tar Sands Invasion, examines the spike in oil infrastructure, climate pollution, and public health risks that will result from oil industry proposals to expand tar sands refining and export capacity on the West Coast.

The report finds that new oil industry proposals would result in the following:

A greater than tenfold increase the amount of tar sands moving into and through the North American west coast by more than 1.7 million barrels per day

Increase the region's carbon pollution by up to 26 million metric tons – the equivalent of adding 5.5 million cars to the road

Create 1,500 miles of new pipelines in British Columbia

Increase tanker and barge traffic twenty-five fold, from 80 to over 2,000 vessels along the Pacific west coast, on the Salish Sea, and down the Columbia River

Increase tar sands at West Coast refineries by eight-fold, from 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 800,000 bpd by 2040

Create a dozen new rail terminals that would significantly increase the region's crude-by-rail traffic

Place hundreds of communities, critical waterways and other environmentally-sensitive areas at risk of a tar sands oil spill

Put fenceline communities and millions of West Coast residents at greater risk than ever to increased toxic air pollution, derailments, explosions, and other accidents that harm public health along with air and water quality.


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