//Scrubbing the oil sands’ record

Scrubbing the oil sands’ record

Canada’s bitumen giants say their crude has become less carbon-intensive than the average. How do their claims hold up?

This summer, with an election call in the offing and the debate over bitumen pipelines heating up anew, three of Canada’s oil sands giants ran full-page ads in newspapers across the country that made a bold—and to some minds, unlikely—claim: that some of their operations are producing oil “with a smaller greenhouse impact than the oil average.” What’s more, the ad suggested, shuttering the oil sands could result in higher carbon fuels replacing their products.

This comes, of course, after many years of environmentalists contending that oil sands are among the world’s dirtiest fuel sources, producing carbon pollution at a much higher rate—multiple times higher—than conventional oil extraction.

The response turns out to be part of the industry’s two-pronged strategy: first, to say that their detractors have cherry-picked and twisted data to make them look bad, and to use emissions numbers to make their own case to the public; second, to improve their emissions record for real. more…



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