Why is oil from tar sands different?

Tar sands oil creates more global warming pollution than conventional oil

  • Extra carbon emissions from every gallon of gasoline from tar sands oil

    Extra carbon emissions from every gallon of gasoline from tar sands oilCompared with standard US gasoline, each gallon of gasoline derived from Canadian tar sands adds an additional 4 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere.

  • Adding it up: A year’s worth of extra carbon emissions

    Adding it up: A year’s worth of extra carbon emissionsIf a gallon of tar sands gasoline adds an additional 4 lbs of CO2 and an American car uses 535 gallons of gasoline per year, that creates an additional 2,140 lbs of CO2 each year.

  • Tar sands oil creates more global warming pollution than conventional oil

    Tar sands oil creates more global warming pollution than conventional oilFueling a vehicle with gasoline from Canadian tar sands oil is around 17% more carbon-intensive than using average US oil (refined in 2005).

  • Global warming pollution compared to oil from other common sources

    Global warming pollution compared to oil from other common sourcesThis graph shows the life-cycle CO2 footprint for transportation fuels produced from different geographic regions. Canadian oil sands have the highest life-cycle carbon emissions.

What exactly are tar sands?

Oil sands, also known as "tar sands," are heavy crude oil mixed with clay, sand and bitumen. Unlike liquid-form conventional petroleum, bitumen exists in a solid or semisolid state, and it must be extracted from the sand and then processed.

Because tar sands oil is a low-quality form of crude, it requires extensive "upgrading" to be converted into fuel.

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