More Indirect Effects from Oil

Biofuels & Climate Change

In the California Air Resources Board (ARB) hearing on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the ARB staff insisted that they looked at the indirect carbon effects of oil but couldn’t find any. In a recent post on this blog, I suggested that they should subscribe to National Geographic Magazine. But that isn’t the only news outlet where they could find evidence of indirect effects. This morning’s EE News had links to several stories detailing indirect effects caused by petroleum. Here they are:

Yesterday’s New York Times had a story about “Oil companies are being sued on charges of environmental damage, collusion with repressive governments and contributing to human rights abuses, among others.” One of the examples listed is a $27 billion lawsuit for oil pollution in the Ecuadorian Jungle. That lawsuit was the subject of the recent 60 Minutes episode Amazon Crude.

A second link was to a Wall Street Journal story on Afghan farmers who had their land ruined by Chinese oil drillers. A third link was to yet another study about the Canadian Tar sands, which was the subject of previously referenced post. By my count, that’s three stories in one day showing indirect effects of oil, yet neither the ARB nor the U.S. EPA accounted for any indirect effects from oil in their life-cycle analysis of gasoline. If academic studies are more your flavor, try this one showing GHG emissions from Persian Gulf oil are doubled when military activities are taken into account.

In a letter to Growth Energy, ARB Chairman Mary Nichols vowed that ARB would “evaluate the land use and other indirect effect of all transportation fuels.” They shouldn’t have to look too hard. I only had to go to one web site.

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One Response to More Indirect Effects from Oil

  1. Scott Miller says:

    As a native Californian, I think that CARB is being incredibly arbitrary on defining indirect effects.

    How about adding to indirect land use change (iLUC) a new factor – “indirect cultural abuse change” (iCAC). The oil benchmark would be pushed up off the chart if we did.

    Our addiction to oil wreaks cultural abuse worldwide – including military manufacturing and logistics expenditures, war damage to existing utility infrastructure, and the transfer of wealth from democracies to tyrannies – who exploit natural resources and have much less stringent environmental and workplace controls than we do. Surely these add carbon to the atmosphere (not to mention carnage, health, environmental, and human rights abuse).

    Bottomline – until we deploy emerging technologies and a progressive infrastructure path to distribute alternative products we should build upon what already gives us options and makes us more self-reliant. Otherwise we remain pawns to those who profit from and control the status quo.

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