CEA has previously highlighted how the United States’ reliable supply of fuel from Canada is threatened by Low Carbon Fuel Standards, which purport to favor cleaner fuels but often use formulas that effectively favor the oil produced in the Middle East.
Those concerns were realized last week when lawmakers in Bellingham, Washington voted to phase out fuels from the Alberta tar sands.
Currently, four refineries near the Pacific Northwest city of Bellingham process the crude oil from Alberta, which has fallen out of favor because of its relatively high carbon content. As we’ve already noted, the formulas used to determine carbon content are usually too simplistic, or just inaccurate. In the case of the oil from Alberta, policymakers often overlook one critical detail: that it is produced very close to home and therefore requires very little fuel to be transported to end users.
Any U.S. city that would reject fuel from a friendly, neighboring country would be acting in a shortsighted manner that would most likely open the door to greater fuel imports from the Middle East and other far away places. When the city of Bellingham, Washington, located so close to the Canadian border, takes such an action, it really underscores how some of the most well-intentioned energy policies defy logic.
Although sending Canadian oil to the U.S. Pacific Northwest is particularly efficient, the oil producing sites in Alberta are close enough that it makes sense from both an economic and a fuel efficiency perspective to consume that oil in many parts of the U.S. The new Alberta Clipper pipeline could help ensure a steady supply of Canadian fuel but because of the growing movement in many states to adopt low carbon fuel standards, that Canadian oil could end up being exported to Asia.