Friday, September 19

The Other Sub-Prime Investment - Tar Sands

With 3 times the CO2 of gasoline how can tar sands pan out in the carbon constrained world of tomorrow?

Products derived from tar sands, which have three times the carbon emissions of traditional gasoline, are a risky investment, because new low carbon fuel standards will increasingly close off sections of the American market.

Requirements that alternative fuels must be at least 20% lower in carbon emissions than oil have already been implemented in California, where Democrats predominate in the legislature.

Clean fuel standards are supported by Obama and Senate Democrats who could gain a fillibuster-proof 60 vote majority in November. Given the Democrats' votes to implement the 20% low carbon fuels rule, a majority in 2009 would likely put an end to tar sands oil.

McCain stopped this bill from becoming law by his "veto" of the 2007 energy bill cloture-vote in December, killing the clean fuels requirement and many other clean energy requirements, but it will come up for a vote again, and in the meantime, voters are becoming more aware of the dangers of scraping the bottom of this barrel while climate catastrophe looms.

The Guardian quotes Mark Hoskin, senior partner at investment advisors Holden & Partners as saying, “There is a good chance that tar sands could be to the oil industry what sub-prime lending was to the banking sector.

The recent banking crisis has shown how the financial markets can totally misjudge both the risks and values inherent in company balance sheets. Oil companies depend on oil reserves for their market values. "

DesmogBlog lists the sub prime aspects of this ghoulish bet against the environment:

Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.
At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing.
Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes.
The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.
Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.

So, why would you invest in a fuel that is likely not going to even be legal within a decade? I guess you would be counting on a McCain/Palin victory.

Related stories:

McCain's 50 Votes Against Clean Energy
Obama's Clean Energy Voting Record
Queensland Premier Follows In Rudd's Carbon Footsteps

Via Mathew McDermott

For Matternetwork