While the oil continues to gush out of the wounded well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico a group is gathered here in Boston today to try to head off development of an important tool that would help move us away from oil. In fact, these folks want us to shift to an even dirtier fuel that requires even more energy to extract than oil and has a whole different set of bad side effects for the public health and the environment.
The group in question is the Consumer Energy Alliance an infamous “astroturf” group that acts as a public face for the oil industry. The fuel they are promoting, working with certain elements of Canadian provincial government, is oil produced by a messy and fuel intensive process from a gooey mixture of sand, clay, water and a tar-like substance called bitumen known as “oil sands” or “tar sands.”
And the policy they are opposing is the Low Carbon Fuel Standard – a reasonable policy that would gradually reduce the “carbon content” of the fuels that power our vehicles, helping to make the transition to cleaner fuels like clean bio-fuels and electricity from renewable sources.
The oil industry does not like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard because it is a tool for finally beginning the process of phasing out their enormously profitable product as the sole fuel for our transportation sector. And the folks in the business of squeezing oil out of sand REALLY don’t like this standard because their product is really ghastly from a global warming perspective – putting at least 3 to 4 times as much global warming pollution into the atmosphere than conventional oil. And just as the citizens and wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico suffer from continuing harm from oil production there is pollution that threatens the public health and environmental damage associated with production of this “unconventional oil” from tar sands.
A consortium of Northeastern States are working on moving the Low Carbon Fuel Standard forward. The governors and environmental agencies of New England need to hear from their citizens that this a positive path forward and they will be hailed and supported for moving forward towards climate protection and away from dirty and dangerous oil.