Listen to Your Pets
People don’t always listen to people. That’s why at Pets Against Pipelines, your pets are the ones delivering the message to stop polluters and invest in clean, renewable energy sources. Right around the time we started this blog, the Senate voted the Keystone XL Pipeline down. We’re currently on hiatus, but are happy to take full credit for the Senate’s decision.
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My Exclusive Interview with Murph (Part 1)
I hope your weekend was as exciting as mine! I had a great conversation yesterday with one of the smartest dogs I know. Murph and I go to the same park and he’s always teaching us something. He’s been doing research on Keystone XL and he and I sat down by the fire hydrant for an exclusive interview. Here’s part one.
Max: Hi, Murph. Would you mind answering a couple questions about Keystone XL?
Murph: Good afternoon, Max, it would be my pleasure. What would you like to know?
Max: Some humans say that the Canadian tar sands oil will be extracted whether the pipeline is built or not.
Murph: That may be the case, but there have been studies showing that transporting the tar sands oil by rail may not be cost effective. That’s why the oil companies are so adamant about constructing the pipeline. They see it as essential in getting that oil to market. Without the pipeline, the cost of extraction and transport may not be worth it. At least not at this time.
Max: And that tar sands oil is really dirty, right?
Murph: Yes, it’s very dirty. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse even called it “the filthiest fuel on the planet.” Oil from tar sands creates 17% more greenhouse gasses than typical oil. That’s the equivalent of about 5,000,000 cars added to the road or 51 coal plants.
Max: Wow! That’s a lot of greenhouse gas!
Murph: It is, but that’s not all. A byproduct of refining tar sands oil is petroleum coke, or “petcoke”. Petcoke is a high-sulfer, high-carbon solid that can be used as a cheaper alternative to coal. And it’s, of course, much dirtier than coal.
Max: Yuck! As a pet, I’m offended by the name petcoke itself. Do we actually use it as a coal alternative?
Murph: It usually gets shipped to countries with looser emissions standards because it burns so dirty. Just because it’s not burned here, doesn’t mean it doesn’t eventually make its way into the atmosphere.
Max: That’s interesting. You really don’t hear anyone talk about petcoke as a byproduct.
Murph: Well, it has been in the news. There was a huge pile of it in Detroit that created a large, black cloud over the city last summer. The pile was three-stories high and covered an entire city block. Unfortunately, that’s just a taste of things to come. If Keystone XL gets built, there will be lots more petcoke near refineries.
Max: So even if the pipeline itself doesn’t lead to spills, there’s all sorts of other pollution that could result?
Max: Wow. I’ve been so focused on the pipeline itself, I didn’t realize there could be a residual effect like petcoke.
Murph: Unfortunately, things like petcoke have rarely been mentioned in the debate. Just think of what would happen if all that petcoke made its way to power plants. It burns so much dirtier than coal, we’d be setting ourselves back decades as far as clean energy.
Max: Hopefully that won’t happen.
Murph: Well, it actually already is. It was reported that the petcoke in Detroit was being shipped to Nova Scotia to be burned by a power plant because it was cheaper than natural gas.
Max: Wow. Tar sands oil is a bigger environmental problem than I even realized.
That’s it for part one. Murph had a lot to talk about, so keep up with Pets Against Pipelines for the next installment. Until then, get signing our comment letter! Congress will be voting on Keystone XL soon, so we need to be sure President Obama hears our collective voices and is ready to exercise his veto power if congress approves the pipeline.