Extreme oil extraction comes to Los Angeles
To feed our continuing addiction to gasoline, local Wilmington oil refineries have quietly been making plans to bring in large amounts of Canadian tar sands crude oil and North Dakota Bakken crude oil.
Canadian tar sands strip-mining destroys boreal forests in Canada and causes long-term water pollution there. Because it takes more energy to extract and refine, it also causes more carbon dioxide pollution for every gallon of gasoline. Operationally, tar sands crude has a higher amount of sulfur, making it more corrosive to refinery pipes and equipment, with a greater chance of leaks and fires like the one that happened in Richmond recently.
North Dakota Bakken crude oil poses a different problem. For some reason, it seems to be much more volatile than normal crude, such that rail tank car accidents have resulted in explosive fires. Current rail tank cars are known to have flaws that leave them vulnerable to leaks if they are involved in accidents. These rail tank cars should be upgraded or replaced with a newer, safer generation of rail tank cars.
Valero refinery, for example, has submitted plans to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) which oversees Southern California to bring in 40 rail tank cars per day, about 70% of its capacity.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino, who represents the Wilmington and San Pedro areas, also is on the Governing Board of the SCAQMD. He should hear from constituents who are opposed to these new feedstocks coming to local refineries. Contact Buscaino at (213) 473-7015 or email@example.com. Also, consumers should try to use as little gasoline as possible, by driving less (walk, bicycle, take mass transit when possible) and driving vehicles that get good gas mileage, perhaps even plug-in electric vehicles to completely avoid the gas pump.
Al Sattler is chair of the Angeles Chapter's Palos Verdes-South Bay Group.