Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Trick Question

Quick, what country exports the largest amount of oil to the U.S.? (Hint: Most of them speak a version of English.) Yep, watch out for flying hockey pucks, it's Canada. But as my old friend Ellen Cantarow tells us, that stuff isn't exactly oil after all, it's bitumen, a corrosive, sticky, nasty substance obtained from the so-called tar sands. We're already importing almost a million barrels a day of this dreck, and the projection is more like 3.5 million barrels by 2025.

It has to be diluted with natural gas and pumped through pipelines at high pressure. It corrodes the pipelines and there have been spills -- including a big ugly one near Kalamazoo. They're building more pipelines to haul more of it. And it is very carbon inefficient -- with the energy needed for extraction and refining, about 50% more C02 winds up in the atmosphere than we get from using petroleum.

Wait there's more! Who is the biggest corporate player in this depravity? Koch Industries, which according to Ellen, handles 25% of imports to the U.S. and is one of the biggest U.S. refiners. Sweet!

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