API, NPRA file motions in oil sands lawsuit

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 30 -- The American Petroleum Institute, National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, and US Chamber of Commerce moved on Sept. 29 to intervene in two environmental organizations’ lawsuit seeking to keep the US Department of Defense from using fuel produced from Canadian oil sands.

The Sierra Club and the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy sued DOD, its energy support center, and its logistics agency on June 18 in US District Court for Northern California. Their suit also named US Defense Sec. Robert M. Gates and the two divisions’ leaders as defendants.

The action alleged that the Pentagon is not complying with the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act’s Section 526, which bars any federal agency from buying fuel from any unconventional fuel source with greater life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than conventional petroleum sources.

“Over the next 5 years, Canadian oil sands development could lead to an additional 343,000 jobs in the United States,” said Bob Greco, API’s downstream operations director. “Those are jobs that our struggling economy could certainly use—and as the economy recovers, it could also use the half a billion bbl/year that Canadian oil sands could provide.”

Oil’s fungible nature makes it impossible for the Pentagon to determine which fuels are derived from oil sands crude, preventing it from being able to comply with EISA’s Section 526, API argued in its motion.

It also stated that Canadian oil sands producers comply with strict environmental regulations requiring that they return all developed land to its natural state. “And, contrary to claims, the life cycle of [greenhouse gas] emissions from crude oil produced from oil sands is comparable to that from other crude oils refined in the US,” Greco said.

Keeping the Pentagon from using Canadian crude from oil sands also would make the US less energy secure and more dependent on other foreign crude suppliers, API argued. “No oil source outside our borders is more secure than Canada,” Greco maintained.

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