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House GOP Pushing Dirtiest Fuel on Planet, Oil Shale (Much Worse than Tar Sands)

Oh my, they just can’t stop. The House GOP seems dead set on destroying the country and destroying the planet. Here’s the latest, via Climate Progress, on its push to develop the dirtiest fuel on the planet (you thought tar sands were bad?!):

by Joe Romm

Rep. Cantor (R-VA):  In addition, Chairman Hastings will add provisions boosting domestic energy production and American jobs both offshore and on, highlighting innovative new technologies that will unlock our vast oil shale resources and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil.



X-axis is the range of potential resource in billions of barrels. Y-axis is grams of Carbon per MegaJoule of final fuel. NASA’s Hansen has said, “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts.” Oil shale is much worse!

The most “anti-environmental House in the history of Congress” wants to get dirtier in 2012.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already voted 191 times to roll back clean air and water rules, energy efficiency standards, and even to keep Styrofoam in the Congressional cafeteria.

Perhaps the worst casualties are the words “global warming” and “clean energy,” which have become more toxic in the House than the anti-environmental laws themselves.

Expect more of the same in the coming months.

With the legislative season back in full swing, House GOP leaders have made it very clear that fossil fuel production is their one and only energy priority.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) sent around a memo this week outlining his party’s agenda for the first quarter of this year, and energy is one of the most important issues for GOP leadership. The theme: drill, baby drill.

Along with celebrating the death of cap and trade, Cantor wrote about trying to pass a new transportation bill that would use (future and uncertain) oil and gas revenue from new drilling operations in pristine wilderness to fund transportation infrastructure upgrades — while at the same time reducing or eliminating programs for bicycle and pedestrian coordination programs. The bill would strip away dedicated federal funding for mass transit and put more money toward building highways.

This is part of a broader House strategy to focus on an aggressive push to dig deeper for more unconventional oil, not on the necessary transition away from fossil fuels. The strategy simply digs a deeper hole to prevent ourselves from addressing climate change. From the Cantor memo:

In addition, Chairman Hastings will add provisions boosting domestic energy production and American jobs both offshore and on, highlighting innovative new technologies that will unlock our vast oil shale resources and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Canada’s crown jewel of dirty, unconventional oil is, of course, the tar sands crude. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has made it very clear that Republican leaders are “going to do everything” they can to make sure the Keystone XL pipeline pipeline is built. However, it is unclear if Boehner will add a provision to the transportation bill that would allow Congress to directly approve the Keystone pipeline.

The final stated priority of House leadership will be to combat the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Because Congress couldn’t put together a flexible package to put a price on carbon, now it’s up to the EPA to establish rules — a regulatory instrument that Republicans have vowed to fight.

The standards, which have been underway for the last two years, would eventually cover facilities that make up 40% of U.S. emissions.

Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, continues to signal that’s a battle he’s prepared to take on. In a letter sent yesterday to the Office of Management and Budget, which is reviewing an EPA proposal to regulate emissions, Upton asked the agency to stop the rule from moving forward. He said the standard, which covers new power plants, would “send thousands of jobs overseas.”

Perhaps by saying “sending jobs overseas” Upton really means “creating domestic jobs” through deployment and manufacture of pollution controls, encouraging efficiency upgrades, and developing new renewable facilities?

That was unclear. What is clear is that any attempts to slow global warming pollution — from greenhouse gas rules to programs that encourage bicycle use — will certainly not be priorities for the most anti-environmental House in the history of Congress.

One comment
  1. Jeremy Boak

    The assertion that oil shale is far worse than oil sands requires the assumption that all impacts other than carbon don’t count, and that no mitigation is possible. The chart above badly underestimates the carbon impact of fuel use. EIA numbers indicate 67.2 gCO2/MJ for fuel, whereas your chart shows about 20. Only the high end of your distribution for CO2 output (based apparently on data I published with Adam Brandt of Stanford) exceeds this amount. Although the potential carbon impact of oil shale is a significant challenge, mitigation is possible. If we don’t solve the problem for all hydrocarbons soon, the impact of oil shale development is unimportant. If we do, then the solution also works for oil shale. Evidently the time you spend does not involve actually learning anything about oil shale except that which supports your view. One need not be a Republican to see this.

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