The State Department is reportedly close to completing a review of a proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline, to transport oil from Canadian oil sands to the United States. The pipeline is controversial to be sure, and environmentalists contend that, in order for President Obama to remain faithful to his renewed commitment to combat climate change, he must reject the pipeline proposal. Famed NASA climatologist James Hansen has said that moving to oil sands would be “a step in exactly the opposite direction” of what President Obama claims he wants to do in his second term.
So, just how bad are Canadian oil sands for the planet? According to a report published by the Congressional Research Service in June of last year, Canadian oil sands are dirtier—and emit more greenhouse gases—than pretty much every other major source of crude oil. Production emissions from Canadian oil sands are 102% higher than emissions from Middle Eastern crude oil, 92% higher than emissions from Venezuelan crude oil and 53% higher than emissions from Mexican crude oil.
And here’s an eye-opening statistic: Production emissions from Canadian oil sands are a stunning 134% greater than production emissions from domestic crude oil. So even “drill, baby, drill” is more climate-friendly than the oil we would get from the Keystone Pipeline.