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Anthony Swift at the Natural Resources Defense Blog writes Exxon's Arkansas Tar Sands Spill: The Tar Sands Name Game:

As the American public becomes acquainted with images of tar sands flowing across lawns, driveways and streets of an Arkansas suburb near Little Rock (for video of the spill go here), Exxon is now making the claim that the crude spilled from its ruptured Pegasus pipeline isn’t technically tar sands. This attempt is reminiscent of the knots that Enbridge tied itself denying that the million gallons of tar sands it spilled into the Kalamazoo River weren’t actually tar sands. During that spill Kari Kydersen, a former Washington Post reporter covering the spill for OnEarth Magazine, helped break Enbridge CEO’s about-face, when after denying that his company had spilled ‘tar sands” for two weeks, told the press:
“No, I haven't said it's not tar sand oil. What I indicated is that it was not what we have traditionally referred to as tar sands oil. ... If it is part of the same geological formation, then I bow to that expert opinion. I'm not saying, ‘No, it's not oil sands crude.' It's just not traditionally defined as that and viewed as that.” Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel, August 12th, 2010
Tar sands map
Tar sands and heavy oil deposits in
Alberta and Saskatchewan
My colleague Josh Mogerman wrote in detail about Enbridge’s denial — and it seems that Exxon is borrowing Enbridge’s playbook in this case. Exxon has identified the crude spilled in Mayflower, Arkansas as Wabasca Heavy diluted bitumen. Now the company is making the case that the crude it spilled is not technically ‘tar sands.’ However, Exxon's argument doesn't stand close scrutiny. Let’s look at the key facts:

1. Wabasca Heavy diluted bitumen is produced in Alberta’s Athabasca tar sands region. [...]

2. Wabasca Heavy Diluted Bitumen is considered by the Alberta Government as tar sands. [...]

3. Industry considers Wabasca Heavy diluted bitumen as tar sands.[...]

How does Exxon argue Wabasca heavy is not in fact tar sands? Their argument seems to be based entirely on how Wabasca heavy is produced. Tar sands near the surface is essentially strip mined. When it isn’t nearly the surface, most companies heat water and flood the underground tar sands formations with steam in order to reduce the viscosity of (i.e. melt) the bitumen so it can be recovered from wells in a process called Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD).

Exxon makes the point that Wabasca Heavy bitumen isn’t produced by either mining or SAGD, but a process called Solvent Assisted Production (SAP). [...]

And if you use water and polymer solvents instead of steam, rather than producing tar sands bitumen you get tar sands bitumen.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012Mitt Romney once believed the answer to higher gasoline prices was more fuel-efficient cars:

Keeping track of Mitt Romney1 versus Mitt Romney2 is reaching the point where we need a distributed computing project running 24/7.
The latest Romney incarnation has been taking President Obama to task for his energy policies, using rising gasoline prices as the cudgel and promoting drillbabydrill as the solution, all the while saying the president is a backer of higher prices. He's pointed, for example, to an interview in 2008 with John Harwood of CNBC in which Obama said:
"The only way we're going to deal with these high gas prices is if we change how we consume oil and that means investing in alternative fuels. It means that we are raising fuel efficiency standards on cars; that we're helping the automakers retool."
Quite right as far as it went. […] Efficiency, alternatives like electric vehicles and more reliance on upgraded mass transit are not just going to be options, but necessities.
And guess what? Mitt Romney1 was saying the same thing back in May 2006 when he was governor of Massachusetts and told the Patriot Ledger he opposed a suspension of the gasoline tax, saying the better approach would be to build more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Tweet of the Day:

This headline is PRICELESS... "Under Heavy Security, NRA Details School Guards Plan." Is Asa afraid of gun nuts, too?
@jljacobson via TweetDeck

High Impact Posts. Top Comments. Overnight News Digest.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 08:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Climate Change SOS.

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