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October 19, 2018 | DYK – Canada’s Oil Sands have 1/20th the Emissions of American Coal Plants

Stewart Muir is founder and executive director of the Resource Works Society, a Vancouver-based group open to participation by British Columbians from all walks of life who are concerned about their future economic opportunities. He is an author, journalist and historian with experience on three continents including a financial editor of The Vancouver Sun responsible for mining and markets coverage. Since Resource Works was established in 2014, the group has gained international recognition for its practical approach to the public challenges of responsible natural resource development and use.

Canada’s oil sands are often maligned because they have a carbon footprint, but we often overlook just how small that footprint is.

The United States, for example, relies heavily on coal for its electricity. Even though it has been lowering national emissions in recent years by replacing some of that coal with clean gas, American coal combustion is still immense.

For 583 coal-burning generation plants tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2017, the CO2 emissions produced amounted to 1,300 megatonnes, which is nearly double the CO2 impact of Canada in its entirety – heating, industry, transportation, the whole whack.

And if you isolate just four of those American coal plants, their production of CO2 is equal to the entire Canadian oil sands. That’s a perspective you don’t hear from oil-sands trashing Hollywood celebrities and even, believe it or not, some Canadian politicians who have not researched the context of their positions opposing Canadian energy.

post-image.jpgIn fact, the climate impact of the oil sands is so small it adds up to just 5 per cent of the American coal-fired generation fleet as it existed in 2017. The oil sands would have to be 20 times larger in order to produce the emissions of U.S. coal plants.


Top 10 United States coal plants

FacilityGHGs (metric tones of CO2)
James H Miller Jr20,799,216
Navajo Generating Station14,535,237
W A Parish14,377,705
Gen J M Gavin14,141,817
Martin Lake13,927,295

Source: Environmental Protection Agency emissions database

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October 19th, 2018

Posted In: Resource Works

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