Report says Northeastern states could see more tar sands-derived gasoline


As more crude from Canadian tar sands heads to Gulf of Mexico refineries, Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states could see more gasoline derived from the oil.

That's the thrust of a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report says that in 2012, less than 1 percent of the gasoline sold in Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states — including New York — was derived from tar sands crude. By 2020, that figure could be between 11 and 18 percent.

More and more of the tar sands crude is being sent to Gulf Coast refineries that in turn supply approximately 40 percent of the gasoline sold in the Northeastern part of the country, says the NRDC report. Another 45 percent of transportation and heating fuel consumed in the Northeast United States is produced by refineries in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and they could start processing tar sands crude, it says.

NRDC is seizing on this issue for a couple of reasons. Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states have made their own efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. And tar sands oil uses an environmentally damaging extraction process, requires more energy and resources to extract and refine, and ultimately results in high greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil.

The organization is urging Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and communities to develop policies that would stem the flow of tar sands oil-derived fuel into them. At minimum, officials should track the "carbon intensity" of the fuels that enter their states and use that information to make sure that the fuel supply does not see an increase in carbon concentrations.

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