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Al Gore writes, "The tar sands are the dirtiest source of fuel on the planet. As I wrote in Our Choice two years ago, gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. This pipeline would be an enormous mistake."

A worker holds a glob of tar sands from a mine in Alberta, Canada. (photo: Lara Solt/Corbis)
A worker holds a glob of tar sands from a mine in Alberta, Canada. (photo: Lara Solt/Corbis)

The Dirtiest Fuel on the Planet

By Al Gore, Reader Supported News

01 September 11


he leaders of the top environmental groups in the country, the Republican Governor of Nebraska, and millions of people around the country - including hundreds of people who have bravely participated in civil disobedience at the White House - all agree on one thing: President Obama should block a planned pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

The tar sands are the dirtiest source of fuel on the planet. As I wrote in Our Choice two years ago, gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. This pipeline would be an enormous mistake. The answer to our climate, energy and economic challenges does not lie in burning more dirty fossil fuels - instead, we must continue to press for much more rapid development of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and cuts in the pollution that causes global warming. your social media marketing partner


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+56 # angelfish 2011-09-01 22:52
Hey Al, If you have the ability to call the President, will you PLEASE encourage him to drop any notion to support this wretched plan to destroy our Ecology and hundreds of Thousands of Americans along it's projected path?! I happen to agree with YOU and hope you have some influence. Thanks for ALL you do!
+13 # demongel 2011-09-02 09:41
Thank you very much! Of course alternative energy sources were available even before WW2 and certainly in the 1970s gas crisis all sorts of ideas were brought into play such as converting the ICE into a devise that could run on potatoes.....In this damned amerikkk so called "democracy, it is ALWAYS ABOUT THE SCRATCH! So, in keeping with that which Al said about civil disobedience, I encourage any and everybody to hook up with the most efficient and well known radical organization in your area and join in......plain and simple, take some time away from some other activity and STAND UP WITH LIKE OTHERS AND BE COUNTED! Before its too late.
+49 # frdboesl 2011-09-01 23:27
But once again Big Oil is calling the shots!! Build a 1700 mile pipe line across the USA. So they can use their refineries in Texas? It will be cheaper to build a refinery on site in Canada. And keep the mess there and ship it out and never cross our border. Why risk destroying our aquifers and environment for a corporation to make money? And don't fall for that, "All of the jobs it will create" Bull...
+24 # Daner 2011-09-02 07:41
They need to get the oil to the Gulf so they can ship it to countries overseas. This oil is not crossing our country for our benefit. There are so many reasons this should not happen.
+14 # jon 2011-09-02 08:11
"It will be cheaper to build a refinery on site in Canada. And keep the mess there and ship it out and never cross our border"

Hey, ship it to China, they have an increasing need for gas since we have subsidized our corporation's expenses to ship our jobs there.
+1 # vitobonespur 2011-09-02 13:39
"Hey, ship it to China, they have an increasing need for gas since we have subsidized our corporation's expenses to ship our jobs there"

Hey, great idea! Instead of opposing a 1,700 mile pipeline from Alberta to the gulf, we can oppose a 6,500 mile...HEY, WAIT! If the pipeline goes from Alberta to China it wouldn't need to cross USA's soil. Out of our hands. Problem solved.
+6 # shagar 2011-09-02 16:18
I may be mistaken but I think it is a mistake to say dirty oil is going to be piped to the USA. ALL oil needs to be refined to get Gasoline etc. The "dirty" part consists in how environmentally disastrous are the extraction methods, not in the refining of it. It is like talking about "Blood Diamonds", which are bloody for the way they are mined and distributed.

Right now in Canada we are equally upset by our conservative government and its pro oil orientation for over ruling our environmental agencies and ramming through permits to obtain the oil in the first place. Watch the doc Petropolis if you can. It clearly shows that i t is in Canada that the major environmental impact will be most devastating should a catastrophe occur.

The sulpher content of the oil is considerably higher than other lighter (Lybian) mideast oils, and therefore its polluting effects that much greater, but piping the oil will be no more harmful than pumping any other oil overland.
Don't get me wrong I am against this filthy toxic export but it is misleading to take the dirty oil tag too literally.

Now will that be sulphered, or unsulphered?
+31 # Helen 2011-09-02 00:12
Pressing for much more rapid development of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and cuts in pollution -- that is exactly what President Obama must do. This is the JOBS program that will restore our faith in government.
+54 # cadan 2011-09-02 00:56
If it were President Al Gore from 2000-2008 our lives would be so much better.
+6 # giraffee2012 2011-09-02 18:53
He was robbed -- we were robbed -- by the United States Supreme Court. They had NO constitutional right to interfere in a State's election
+17 # DurangoKid 2011-09-02 01:50
The problem is that there is no combination of alternative energy sources that is ready now or even in the coming decades that will allow us to continue industrial culture as we have known it. This is true in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Nothing beats fossil fuels. Moreover, ramping up to alternatives will require fossil fuel fed industries. It will also require enormous quantities of capital that we are losing as we slide from one financial crisis to the next. The point nobody seems to want to make is that we're headed for a massive contraction if not an outright collapse over the coming decades. Trying to keep our fleets of cars running on bio-fuels is a hopeless undertaking and it misses the point in any case. Personal automobile transport will be a victim of a triage between survival and convenience. Fuel will simply be to precious to waste driving to McDonald's for faux food while on the way to the mall to buy molded plastic that will end up in a landfill in a couple of weeks. How many more debt obligations will go into default because people have to choose between commuting to work versus making mortgage and/or credit card payments? Face it, as we roll over the peak of oil production, all the rules will change. Go ahead and press for renewable fuels but don't count on being able to fill your tank with them any time soon.
+6 # Valleyboy 2011-09-02 06:19
Excellent point.

The big problem I foresee when we come off fossil fuels for cars is, presuming we go electric, a huge extra load will be placed on the grid.
The question is: were will we get the extra power?
Coal's too dirty, Nuclear too expensive, dangerous & toxic - so what are we left with?
Hydro? I don't class that as a full renewable because it has some pretty big environmental effects.

These are the questions universities all over the wold need to be putting their best technical minds to RIGHT NOW.
+6 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-02 08:56
You can solar energize battery cells, their are many Battery Companies esp Deka that are doing it, go to a seminar of fair.
Ed Begley did it over 20 years ago.
If the plug and plays demand safe energy sources, than you are contributing towards wind, solar and perhaps water
+6 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-02 08:54
Not necessarily so on home heating. Have geothermal and once solar is in, I am using two of nature's given...water temperature at constant and sun power which can be stored.
Along with this, I am not adding to air
emmissions (I have back up wood stove for storm damage or power outages as of now).
I have clean air inside for animals and people, can save the wood and other products due to dehumidifier. So alternatives are a win/win solution. It is the vehicles that must come up to standards.

That poses a different question of safety. More mpg means lighter vehicles (doesn't have to but is trend now) which means higher impact in accidents with tractor trailers, buses and older vehicles... So we will have to understand that getting, will have a deep impact unless we all learn to drive safely. As that goes not happening anytime to soon.
Responsible building materials etc. People are the worst with their foam plates. Not only unneeded like the styrofoam in dirt routine, but unsafe for animals. We are still allowing plastic bags, instead of using recycle bags or material. so on, we contribute by our own stupidity or laziness
-1 # MidwestTom 2011-09-02 09:35
You obviously do not live in a city, which is where most Americans live. My guess is that you use more gasoline than city dwellers, which probably balances out your good environmental intentions.
+7 # Dick Huopana 2011-09-02 09:28
Too bad the Bush-Cheney presidency didn't lead us into launching a program on the scale of Pres. Kennedy's "man to the moon" program to change our primary energy dependence to alternative fuels. Instead, they launched their oil wars (funded by borrowing) to protect our dependency upon Mid-East oil.

But, the world's TOP PRIORITY must be to protect our global temperature from continuing to rise in temperature. However, the top priority of our leaders in both the government and our economy's private sector is profit-taking and the oil industry and their lobbyists are successfully blocking the development and launch of a comprehensive energy plan to end - AND REDUCE - increasing atmospheric temperature. Yes, it will have a major impact on our current way of life. But time is running out and the longer we, as a civilization, delay solving the global warming threat, the greater the impact will be on all forms of life on Earth.
+30 # Watchdog 2011-09-02 02:33
It is past time to stop playing nice over climate change. The Tar Party is trying to take us down the road to perdition on bitumen sludge and greenhouse gas.

I applaud the men and women in Washington D.C. who are being arrested to show the world and President Obama where they stand on this issue. I would gladly join them if I could.
+22 # seeuingoa 2011-09-02 02:45
I fully agree Al,
and hope you will be on the Freedom Plaza,
Washington DC on 6th October.
See you there!
+11 # SouthBrun 2011-09-02 05:16
We are already seeing more advertisements pushing tar sands as a safe and vialbe fuel source. We have to step up our truth campaign about this and fracking. Big Oil will spend whatever it takes to sell THE BIG LIE. Tobaco companies did, as we are still reaping the health horrors of their propaganda machine.
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-02 08:57
Just like cheap, affordable Nuclear Energy...ask Japan about the affordable.
GE and NRC stood up at their backs from the beginning eh
+12 # sandyclaws 2011-09-02 06:49
I agree with the durango kid. But I will go further... What we need to do is drastic conservation first! This will agravate the power and oil companies because of reduced revenue. It will also drive states nuts with reduced tax revenue as is happening in Florida right now. We have to get use to a different way of life. We need an electric vehicle or bicycle to get to a light rail stop or station. The light rail/trolley will then take you to; shopping, work, heavy rail station, etc. Electricity can be made in many different ways. But there is only one drinking water and there is no substitue for water. In our greedy quest for oil, we have been polluting the oceans, the Gulf, the North Sea, the China Sea, Nigeria, the continental USA,etc. Fracking is destroying our water supply for which as I have stated has no substitute. The proposed tar sands pipeline will be one of the last nails in our coffin. Pipelines are proven leakers! And what a wonderful terrorist target! We could have more US jobs from now on, building up renewable energy and the transportation system that would use that power.
+9 # George Baggett 2011-09-02 07:08
I agree with not placing the pipeline, primarily because it will sit on top of sources of drinking water for millions of Americans. That said, it appears the tar sands project is moving ahead, pipeline or no pipeline. Alberta is destined to become the next major source of fuel. It seems to me the only way to slow this down is to significantly reduce the demand for oil, with a drastic drive towards alternative energy in a quest similar to Germany's drive away from Nuclear. Can the US and Canada do this, or can the former scientist doubting climate change provide enough bunk to keep us from reaching a consensus to take the necessary actions? I suggest defining the source of the problem and go after them with everything we've got!
+7 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-02 08:59
People will be selling their rights like whores on street corners just like they are with fracking that safe practice.
Money talks. Believe me if my neighbors sell out, I will sell and get out.
200 unapproved Chemicals in fracking. Geniuses no care in the world about animals or neighbors. Gotta love Christianity
+7 # fredboy 2011-09-02 07:34
This most hideous fuel and its residue clearly demonstrate that energy interests are headed in the wrong direction. So little regard for the planet and its future; they salivate for the dollar.
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-02 09:02
Sad thing is the Wildlife, domestic animals have no say.
Fracking is another ploy right now so if anyone thinks anyone is coming to town on a green pony...go to Disney Channel ain't happenin in this World.

Again once poisoned within ten years where will the Senators, Congressman and their families be? I would personally like to make them drink the water alongside us but I may not get that chance. Been offering the sewage water
+4 # Billy Bob 2011-09-02 09:24
It also demonstrates how desperate the oil industry is getting for new sources of oil. Peak oil has come. Time to challenge the paradigm.
+10 # Isar 2011-09-02 07:59
Thanks, Al, but if you had been marching in the protests in front of the White House this past week, would YOU have been arrested like so many were? YOUR ARREST might really make a difference, don't you think?
+7 # Billy Bob 2011-09-02 09:21
You're right. If Roza Parks could make as big of a difference as she did, imagine how much of a difference Al Gore could.
+3 # LeeBlack 2011-09-02 08:31
Michael Levi had this to say:

A Hummer gets 10 miles per gallon. A Prius gets 50. Gasoline from the oil sands entails roughly 15% greater emissions than gasoline made from the average barrel of conventional oil used in the United States. A Hummer using “gasoline made from oil” thus has 4.3 times the impact on climate as a Prius using “gasoline made from the tar sands”, not the same amount. None of these numbers are controversial (well, some in industry would claim that 15% is too high). Someone like Gore who cares passionately about both climate change and scientific seriousness should not mislead his followers on such a massive difference.
+7 # OpenMind 2011-09-02 09:07
Just saw that Obama dropped an EPA proposal aiming to tighten U.S. smog controls, bowing AGAIN to Republicans and business leaders. He's not going to give a rats ass about this. I am so disappointed in this "leader". If he would just kindly change his affiliation to the Republican party I'd be better able to understand his actions. Sad, sad, sad....
-2 # reiverpacific 2011-09-02 10:15
I often wonder what all those who own extractive and pollutive industries rich enough to influence the halls of power, feeding the yawing maw of the military (the biggest consumers and polluters by far!) will eat, drink and even breathe, when they have taken everything out and sold it for thirty-trillion pieces of silver, leaving a planet habitable only by 'roaches (if that)?
The rest of us will have been poisoned to death by then, as presumably "they" will have built hermosetically- sealed compounds with artificially-pr oduced and recycled support systems bought with their science influence. But they are subject to the same laws of existence and survival (not to mention quality of life) as the rest of us -and they can't eat their "assets".
I doubt that THEY really want this any more than the rest of us and I wonder what it will take to point this out to them beyond the motives of short-term gain, including Mr Obama, with his "Clean coal" and "Safe nuclear" sympathies, flying directly in the face of his wife planting a vegetable at the White House.
No wonder people are so confused (and that's only one subject!
I suggest that you listen to the likes of Dr. Helen Caldicott, Vandana Shiva and many others -and ANY subsistence farmer for guidance rather than Mr. Gore, with his dynastic political background and history of double-standard s.
+4 # Billy Bob 2011-09-02 15:05
First of all, Helen Caldicott is a genius!

Second of all, look at the movie Dr. Strangelove. Absurd as it sounds, I really think it's the premise they envision. Cheney and Rumsfeld seem cartoonishly moulded out of caricatures in Dr. Strangelove.

I really believe they feel above the fray and are making serious preparations to make sure the "tribulations", if you will, they are causing future generations will not be a problem for them and their offspring. I guess they will be "raptured" away to their own private bunkers to feast off of what's left of the stored supplies, while you and I fight it out with "survivalists", "Road Warrior"-style

If that ain't what their thinkin', I got nothin'...
+2 # amye 2011-09-02 10:21
Don't hold your breath people! Its probably gonna happen! I doubt Obama is going to suddenly change and stop this. He be a corporate man! Need the money to run again for reelection so we can vote for him again! I guess he thinks we are dumb or something!
+3 # jwb110 2011-09-02 12:12
Run the pipeline to Alaska and let them deal with it. Houston Texas is the largest supplier of oil in the US. Lets not give them any chances to hold the country hostage the way they did with Enron.
+7 # ccunningham 2011-09-02 12:45
Hey, Al, would you please consider running in 2012? We really thot Obama would be able to do everything he said he would, & it's just not working out that way.
+4 # propsguy 2011-09-02 15:41
this is clearly the reason why those in charge could not allow Al Gore to win the election, why they had their handmaidens, the Supremes steal it away
+1 # Leonie 2011-09-05 15:39
As a Canadian, I'm well informed that the Tar Sands is the most polluting man-made disaster in the world, bringing Canada up to being one of the top polluters in the world. We want it STOPPED!

However currently Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the US.

Who does it benefit to continue this idiocy? In addition to the horrifying effects of this poisonous operation (gee maybe if people would stop fooling around with petroleum products so much, the cancer count would decrease???), the sheer non-efficiency is mind-boggling, considering it takes two litres of gas to make one litre of oil. How does this add up?

As well, the US only owes us a mere $80-90 billion at the moment - are we going to enable them to fall into further debt (not to mention the over world debt of pollution and inefficiency) by ADDING to this monumental boondoggle?

I sure hope not!

The answer is to get down to producing forms of green energy toute de suite. That would create jobs and get us out of this overall mess we're in.

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