The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Case For Oil Sands

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 31, 2009

In a recent op-ed in the Argus Leader, John Duff Erickson, professor emeritus at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, makes a strong case for continuing the development of Canadian oil sands. He notes that Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the United States, and Canadian oil is helping to bolster U.S. energy security.

Mr. Erickson also expresses his concern about a coalition's efforts to stop the use of oil sands-derived crude oil in the United States. He says the coalition is arguing that oil sands production is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions:

"It would be folly to halt oil sands production and the construction of pipelines that would carry Canadian oil to U.S. markets. Oil sands development accounts for less than 1 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Environmental groups claim that oil sands produce five to seven times the carbon emissions of conventional oil, but a study by Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a highly regarded consulting group, determined that oil sands emissions are only 5 percent to 15 percent higher than the average barrel of crude oil processed in the United States."

Mr. Erickson adds that several refineries in the Upper Midwest are boosting their oil sands capacity and making large investments to increase operating efficiency and reduce emissions. Under the API Climate Action Challenge, API-member refiners have committed to improve their efficiency by 10 percent by 2012.

Read more about Canadian oil sands.


Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.