Import Canadian oil sands? Pro and con

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Wisconsin State Journal ran a pro and a con article on whether the U.S. should import Canadian oil sands.

Wayne Madsen, a Washington-based author and columnist and a contributing writer to the liberal Online Journal (, wrote the con:

WASHINGTON -- Anything that allows America to continue its narcotic-like dependence on carbon fossil fuels -- whether the sprawling tar sands of Canada or the petroleum pools under Alaska 's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- completely misses the point about shifting to alternative energy sources.

Alternative sources should be real energy alternatives like wind, solar and geothermal power rather than alternative fossil fuel sources that often give off more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil.

Without making that crucial distinction we will continue to stoke the boilers of global warming that are destroying our planet 's all-too fragile environment at an ever-increasing rate.

Congress was wise to ban oil drilling in ANWR, one of the most pristine areas on Earth, and it would be equally wise to ban the import of oil from the tar sands of Alberta in Canada. Our Congress also should support efforts by far-sighted Canadians, who are pushing for a moratorium on the further development of Alberta 's tar sands.
Robert Fink, a petroleum geologist living in Cleveland, Wisconsin, wrote the pro:
At a time when Congress and the states are trying to come up with solutions to the nation 's energy problems, it is vital that decisions be made on the basis of fact, not fiction.

U.S. Senate opposition to legislation that would speed up the permitting process for oil refineries, for example, comes in part from an impression that oil companies aren 't interested in increasing refinery capacity in the United States.

Worse, some members of Congress want to prohibit Midwest refineries from using Canadian tar-sands oil in the mistaken belief our refineries have easy access to crude-oil supplies from other countries that can fill the gap. . . .

The United States consumes about 21 million barrels of gasoline, diesel and other oil products daily, according to the Energy Information Administration, but only 17 million barrels are refined in this country. The rest is produced at refineries in other countries, some as far away as Europe and the Near East, and with growing demand for petroleum products, imports from foreign refineries are projected to more than double within 20 years.

"We 're going to become dependent on foreign refineries, " Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, warned recently. "If we can 't refine oil, others will do it for us, and it 's foolish if we don 't wean ourselves off imports. "