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Letter to the editor: The dark side of tar sand oil

While many proponents of Enbridge's new Line 3 Pipeline praise the temporary jobs and tax revenue its construction and operation would provide, these supposed benefits come at a staggering cost to society.

The Draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) recently completed estimates that the "social cost of carbon," defined as the economic and environmental impact of the greenhouse gases that are released during the extraction, refining and combustion of tar sand oil for Line 3 alone, to be $287 billion over its 30-year expected life. (Enbridge says it's really ONLY $169 billion). Indeed, Alberta tar sand oil, which would flow through Line 3 at 770,000 barrels per day is not oil that is simply pumped from the ground. Its extraction is more akin to an open pit mining operation that requires massive amounts of water and energy to steam the bitumen from its sandy environment, a process that creates huge holding ponds of toxic water. This bitumen is then diluted (adding more toxins) to create "dilbit," allowing this sludge to be pumped through the pipeline to refineries.

The extraction and refining of tar sand oil results in roughly 14 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average oil used in the U.S. NASA climatologist James Hansen states, "Going after tar sands — incredibly dirty, destroying the local environment for a very carbon-intensive fuel — is the sign of a terribly crazed addict."

Recent news reports indicate that 2016 was our planet's warmest year yet, and we added the second highest ever amount of carbon into our atmosphere. To learn how you can oppose this pipeline, please visit Friendsoftheheadwaters.org and www.facebook.com/savemississippiheadwaters.

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