Alberta oil sands. Huge environmental cost divides Pres. Bush from U.S. Mayors

Critics: Canada’s oil boom an environmental bust. Extracting oil from Canada’s open-pit mines poses unacceptable risks to the region’s rivers and forests, critics of the projects say. By Rob Gillies. AP.

They might strip mine an area as large as New York state.

While oil sands does yield a lot of net energy, the ratio is poor compared to traditional sources, making synthetic oil from the sands even more damaging in terms of greenhouse gases.

Of course President Bush thinks the oil sands are great, but U.S. mayors have passed a resolution against their use.



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  1. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Conventional oil drilling is bad enough on the environment, but this oil sands extraction is on an entirely different scale of destruction. I am not against oil drilling in certain areas if done responsibly, but I don’t comprehend how any reasonable person could support oil sands or shale extraction.

    Simply put, the costs are extreme and these projects should never have even broken ground. Like any addiction, our oil addiction causes us to do things that are against our long-term self-interest. And this may be the worst example.

    I posted this before, but it’s another good article on this subject. If you haven’t read this yet, check it out, too.

  2. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    “”Experts say producing a barrel of oil from sands results in emissions three times greater than those from producing a conventional barrel of oil.””

    Anybody know the estimate for the oil shale in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado?

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The kerogen in oil shale is “retorted” out by pyrolysis. Pryrolysis heats the oil shale to 450–500 °C !! in the absence of air to drive the kerogen out.

    Kerogen isn’t oil and further processing is needed.

    This extremely high temperature has got to take a massive about of energy.

  4. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Regarding the energy involved in the tar sands of Alberta:

    “Every 24 hours the industry burns enough natural gas to heat four million American homes in order to produce one million barrels of oil.”

    “The Canadian government recently estimated that it might take 20 nuclear reactors to replace natural gas as a fuel source in tar-sands operations by 2015, and companies are already putting forth proposals to build them.”

    And this is just the energy consumed at one tar sands project. Is this the future of our West? How lucrative does this become if oil is at $200 a barrel?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan