Big Companies Drive the Demand for Tar Sands, Communities Bear the Risks

One of the biggest uses of fuel in the US is shipping the products we buy and use everyday. To move these products, Fortune 500 companies often rely on fuel from refineries that process Alberta’s tar sands. In some ways, US companies create the market conditions for more tar sands oil.

Not only are American corporations driving the demand for more tar sands oil, we’re exposing communities to risk in the process. Here are three ways in which tar sands impacts towns and cities across the US:

Tar sands and crude by rail is unacceptably dangerous

The movement to oppose tar sands pipelines, like Keystone XL, has taken national spotlight in the United States. Meanwhile, there are over 30 new crude-by-rail proposals in America. If approved they would move a combined 2.5 million barrels of oil per day--that’s triple the amount that Keystone XL would move.

What’s more, the cars used to transport tar sands and crude by rail are unquestionably unsafe and are prone to puncturing and exploding during an accident. Trains are for moving people, not sinking crude like tar sands or explosive crude like Bakken shale oil.

Tankers loaded with tar sands oil put coastal economies at risk

If the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge tar sands pipelines in Canada are approved, hundreds of tankers would carry tar sands oil from pipeline terminals to refineries on the West Coast and Asia. Tar sands doesn’t behave like conventional oil--when it spills, it sinks, and there’s no known way of cleaning it up.

Tankers loaded with tar sands gamble with our orcas, seals, and other marine life. A single spill could devastate coastal communities, where fisheries and tourism create good local jobs.

Tar sands refineries spew sulfur dioxide pollution

Tar sands are processed at the biggest, dirtiest and most dangerous refineries in North America. Refineries using tar sands tend to spew more sulfur dioxide pollution per barrel produced than other refineries. This means that communities near refineries are exposed to pollution far more extreme than pollution from conventional oil.

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