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Tar sands refinery, view from the fence-line.
Without oil refineries, our current transportation system would not function. Refineries produce the vast majority of the energy we use for moving people and things from one place to another.
Refineries are also one of the most hazardous parts of our transportation system, especially to the already vulnerable segments of our society. Minority communities and the poor, the young and the old, and those suffering from diseases that affect their heart and lung systems—these are the groups that already pay most dearly for our current dependence upon refineries for transportation fuel. And these are the same people who are now facing additional health costs because of the growing relationship between U.S. refineries and Canada’s tar sands.
Now that the easy oil is gone1, U.S. refineries have begun pushing their ‘operating envelopes’ by using Canada’s tar sands. Refinery use of tar sands leads to a number of problems.
1. Murray & King, “Climate policy: Oil’s tipping point has passed”. Nature. January 25, 2012.
2. Standing, “Canadian Oil Sands Misses Unrealistic Projection – Issues Another”, Energy Bulletin. December 14, 2009. http://www.energybulletin.net/node/50971
3. Chen, “Cancer Incidence in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta 1995-2006.” February 2009.