Today the Sierra Club released its new Tar Sands Fuel in Corporate Fleets report outlining steps that corporations can take to avoid fuels derived from tar sands crude in their company's cars and trucks. The report identifies 39 U.S. oil refineries that do not process tar sands crude into gasoline and diesel fuel. Though it is difficult for individuals to know the source of the fuel they buy at the pump, corporations with large vehicle fleets are often able to choose the sources of the fuel they use. The Sierra Club is asking companies to avoid whenever possible fuel derived from the high-carbon, highly polluting Alberta tar sands.
Oil refined from tar sands is one of the dirtiest sources of fuel on Earth. And while companies across America are making progress in raising fuel efficiency, burning oil from tar sands means taking two steps backward. The State Department estimates that oil from tar sands is 17 percent more carbon intensive than oil from conventional crude, but when you add destruction of boreal forest in Canada and the burning of pet coke, that number is actually much higher. Additionally, the tar sands industry is dumping vast amounts of toxic pollution in waterways and threatening indigenous communities. Fuel efficiency and sustainability gains can be wiped out when you fill that vehicle with oil from tar sands.
Through the Future Fleet campaign, the Sierra Club and ForestEthics have been pushing companies such as PepsiCo, which operates an enormous fleet of vehicles in the U.S., to slash overall oil consumption and reduce reliance on tar sands fuel. Already, 19 companies, including Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Columbia Sportswear have committed to take action on tar sands fuel for their vehicle fleet and shipping operations. Other companies interested in taking action on tar sands have expressed confusion over the chain of custody for petroleum. With this new information on refineries, it's easier for fleet operators to know where their fuels are coming from and avoid the dirtiest sources of oil. I'll be talking with companies about how this report can help them avoid tar sands fuel.
The Sierra Club report, along with a map showing U.S. refineries' tar sands usage, can be viewed here. More detail from Oil Change International on refineries that process and don't process tar sands crude can be found at www.RefineryReport.org.
The climate movement and the Keystone XL campaign are shining a bright light on the oil industry's dangerous shift to more extreme sources of oil. The first step for any company is to reduce the amount of oil they use. A second important step is to understand the source of their fuels, and, whenever possible, avoid the worst fuels in the market place. Tar sands tops the list when it comes to a rapidly growing fuel source with a devastating environmental impact.