Skip to main content

I was reading this article on Dr. James Hansen and climate change when this sentence popped out at me:

Another refinery near Minneapolis processes tar sands oil into gasoline for Wisconsin. If you fill up at Kwik Trip, you’re burning tar sands oil.
Well, Kwik Trip is one place I buy gas. Did they really use tar sands oil in their gas?  This article speaks positively about Kwik Trip's effort to get an early start on providing recharge stations for electric cars, but a commenter notes:
Kwik Trip fuels are full of tar sands gasoline, which has a carbon footprint several times larger than conventional gasoline. In light of this, installing a few electric-car charging stations at their stores, which as your article states has questionable utility, seems like little more than greenwashing.
I found this article that said a local refinery does refine Alberta tar sands oil and "Kwik Trip is one of its biggest customers."

At first, I thought I could just buy gas somewhere else and avoid tar sands gasoline. Also, if enough people did likewise maybe it would send a message? Maybe retailers would think twice about their fuel sources? I also get gas at Holiday so I did a search.

Well, Holiday also uses tar sands oil.

The oil at Holiday is fracked Canadian tar sands oil, pumped through Koch brothers pipelines, refined at the Rosemount facility (or sometimes just dumped in the nearby wetlands) and merely sold by the Erickson empire through their Holiday stations.  So it is Koch dirty oil. refined at a local Koch dirty refinery, merely sold by Holiday.

What about Marathon and SuperAmerica?  I learned the gas comes from the nearby Marathon refinery, which is 100% Canadian tar sands oil. At least it isn't owned by Koch?

Most Minnesota residents aren't aware 80% of their gasoline comes from Canadian tar sands oil.

I looked more, and it doesn't seem people in the upper midwest can easily avoid tar sands gas. Rick Chamberlin looked into it and wrote a blog post "The Tragedy In Your Tank Is It Even Possible To Steer Clear of Tar Sands Gasoline?  In the post, he indicates a reader once wrote to him asking "So where can I buy gasoline without tar sands oil?" The answer he found:

Well, I’ve found the answer and it’s not a good one: virtually all gasoline (and diesel fuel, home heating oil and jet fuel) now sold in Wisconsin is derived, at least in part, from crude originating in the Athabascan tar sands region of Canada.
I read "in part" and I thought maybe it would be possible to find out what gas stations had the least tar sands in their blend?  Well, no.
Although he couldn’t supply me with exact figures, Erin Roth, director of the Wisconsin Petroleum Council, told me that most major suppliers of gasoline in Wisconsin sell blends containing well over 50 percent tar sands gasoline, and that many suppliers are as high 80 percent. The Marathon refinery in Minnesota, which supplies fuel to all Marathon stations, including several in Wisconsin, is at 100 percent Canadian crude, according to Roth.
He wasn't able to find out exactly how much tar sands goes into any retailers blend, and found that blends vary on a daily basis. And note the director of the Wisconsin Petroleum Council told him they would keep increasing their use of Canadian crude.

Minnesota and Wisconsin aren't the only places it may be hard to avoid tar sands gas. If you live in Maine,. there's a good chance your gas comes from Canadian tar sands oil as well. There is also a bill in the Maine state legislature to put a 2 year moratorium on the transportation of tar sands oil.

Also, gas stations in the SF Bay area will soon be selling even more gasoline refined from Canadian tar sands oil.

**There's a Bay Area march on Saturday, August 3rd in regard to this**

As noted, I didn't know I was buying gas that was refined from Canadian tar sands oil. I'm sure most people who live in the upper midwest or other states where gasoline supplies are obtained mostly from refined tar sands oil aren't aware. What if gasoline retailers had to label their fuel sources?  Doesn't the public have a right to know if the gas they buy is refined from fuel sources with a substantially greater environmental impact?  

In a Mother Jones article, it is noted a San Francisco environmental group Forest Ethics has encouraged American companies to boycott tar sands oil and the refineries that process it. The articles notes it is much easier for companies to boycott tar sands based fuel than individuals. In fact, Forest Ethics has persuaded 19 large companies and 2 cities to do that. Hopefully, the list will grow and refineries will think twice before buying tar sands oil.

I'm not a chemist, but this article explains why refining tar sands into gasoline has a substantially greater enviornmental impact than conventional oil.

To make it to the pump, refined bitumen heads to an oil refinery where it’s converted into gasoline. And since bitumen is a highly viscous “heavy” oil that doesn’t flow as easily as lighter crude, it requires more processing to facilitate its flow through the oil pipelines.

Overall, mining tar sands, extracting bitumen and converting it to gasoline releases three times more carbon dioxide than typical oil production. In addition to massive amounts of tar sand needed to extract oil and the carbon emissions generated, the tar sand mining operation takes places in Alberta's boreal forest, a relatively untouched ecosystem prized for its biodiversity. But the habitat destruction has threatened the livelihood of various native species, and the Alberta Water Research Institute is currently spending $15 million to prevent runoff toxins collected in tailing pools from entering nearby water supplies.

Oil Sands Check stated fueling 10% of U.S. transportation with tar sands gas is the environmental equivalent of adding 8 million cars to the road. Also, note while producing a barrel of oil from tar sands does produce 3.2 to 4.5 times more greenhouse gases than  conventional oil, the actual "well to wheels" effect is 22% more climate damaging than gasoline from conventional oil.

Hopefully, President Obama will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline. We know without the Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands production and the environmental impact will be much less.

Help Us Spread the Word About Climate Change

For those of you on Facebook and Twitter: Please help to spread the word by hitting the FB and Tweet links at the top of this diary and if you have time, join the discussion with comments.  Share such postings with friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances.

Thanks, as all of this helps build the Climate Change movement as well as introducing critically important ideas about renewable sources of energy.

Please use hashtags #climate, #eco, and #climatechange to tweet all diaries about the environment.

"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!

After a hiatus of over 1 1/2 years, Meteor Blades has revived his excellent series.  As MB explained, this weekly diary is a "round-up with excerpts and links... of the hard work so many Kossacks put into bringing matters of environmental concern to the community... I'll be starting out with some commentary of my own on an issue related to the environment, a word I take in its broadest meaning."

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.  Be sure to recommend and comment in the diary. 

Originally posted to joedemocrat on Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 01:36 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, Gulf Watchers Group, Democracy Addicts, Badger State Progressive, DK GreenRoots, and Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site