Friday, May 30, 2014

Total blow to tar sands development: big victory for environment

by Mike Hudema

Yesterday, the environment and communities directly affected by the tar sands won big!

Total E&P, a major tar sands company, which is also a confirmed shipper for the proposed and now delayed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, announced it would put on hold indefinitely its plans for its massive tar sands Joslyn mine. The company said the economics for the $11 billion plan simply no longer added up.   

To understand how big this victory is, over its lifetime, the Joslyn tar sands mine would have pumped hundreds of millions of metric tons of carbon pollution into the air. That’s equivalent to putting 2.4 million cars on the road every year for 45 years, according to Oil Change International. In addition, the mine would have produced 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings every year - enough to fill 100 sports stadiums - and would have produced 874 million barrels of bitumen over its life span.

The shelving of Joslyn means every year, based on annual peak capacity, we keep the equivalent carbon emissions of 2.4 million cars off the road, prevent 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings from being dumped into the environment, and keep 36.5 million barrels of tar sands crude in the ground. Not to mention preventing the other impacts to health, Treaty rights, and communities that tar sands development causes.

This announcement also severely undercuts oil industry arguments that the expansion of tar sands development is unavoidable. In fact, there is clear and compelling evidence that the growth of the tar sands industry is directly linked to the availability of pipelines like Keystone XL.  It is why the State Department must reject tar sands pipeline projects like Keystone XL because it would directly enable the growth of the carbon polluting tar sands industry.   MORE

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