By now if you know anything about California’s ballot initiative Proposition 23 then you are familiar with the Texas oil company Valero. Besides being the largest donor to the pro-Proposition 23 campaign, Valero has ties to the tar sands in Alberta, BC, Canada. The Texas oil company owns several Alberta area refineries. Bill Day, Valero spokesperson, calls Canada “a tremendous potential supplier for us.”
Tar sands are a mixture of sand, clay and bitumen (a heavy crude). According to Greenpeace, in order to get oil flowing from out of the tar sands, “trees are cut down, the surface layer is strip-mined, and the underlying mixture is heated with steam in order to make it flow.” The bitumen is processed and refined to become synthetic crude oil.
The largest accessible tar sands are in Alberta. “Most of the oil produced by the tar sands goes to the United States,” Greenpeace states on its website. Every year 29.5 megatons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are emitted from the Alberta tar sands, which is equivalent to over five million cars on the road. The amount of annual GHG emissions from the tar sands is 12 percent of Alberta’s total GHG emissions, almost five percent of Canada’s emissions, and 0.1 percent of the world’s total emissions.
Valero has a Port Arthur, Texas refinery. Why is that an important fact? TransCanada’s $12 billion Keystone Pipeline Project would link the Alberta tar sands to Texas oil refineries. It will be a 1,661 mile long 36-inch crude oil pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alberta and ending in Nederland, Texas.
TransCanada says the Keystone Pipeline Project “will play an important role in linking a secure and growing supply of Canadian crude oil with the largest refining markets in the United States, significantly improving North American security supply.”
Day says of the Project, “This strengthens U.S.-based refining.” Day adds, “It gives us a dedicated source of crude oil from a close neighbor and excellent trading partner.”
The website DirtyOilSands.org reports that Valero already committed to buying the tar sands crude that the Project would carry to Texas. Valero says on its website that it is the largest oil refinery in North America. Should anyone really be surprised that Valero has ties to the Keystone Pipeline Project?