A bunch of my friends are up in arms about the Keystone XL pipeline, and the “carbon bomb” it would be if built. Why carbon bomb? Because it is a vast store of hydrocarbon fossil fuels, and building the pipeline would facilitate extraction of those fuels. There’s another deposit of tar sands not too far away, in Alaska’s North Slope. The U.S. Dept of Energy (DoE) just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Alaska Dept of Natural Resources (DNR) to support research activities to develop not only the viscous oil deposits on the North Slope, but also methane hydrate formations.
The Memorandum of Understanding (see below) describes how the DNR and DoE will be collaborating with other agencies and corporations on research to exploit these resources. The size of the resource is pretty large. The North Slope is thought to have reserves of 20 billion to 25 billion barrels of viscous oil deposits contained within shallow, regionally extensive sands. The USGS estimates there are 85 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources extractable from methane hydrate deposits along the North Slope.
Both would involve extensive bad environmental consequences if they are extracted. The Alberta Tar Sands is an example, with a vast territory of open pit strip mining and toxic waste dumps.
To my friends who are protesting the Keystone XL I have two things to say — first, Alaska. Second, what kind of electric car do you drive?
The whole purpose behind this sort of environmental catastrophe that is being purposely created by governments and corporations is to supply fuel for cars and trucks. If we switch away from using that fuel, we end the demand for oil, and the oil companies will crumble into bankruptcy.
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