Keystone tar sands waste more harmful to environment: report

Environmental groups have sought to adopt a new approach in their fight to persuade President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil sands from Alberta to the US Gulf Coast. The groups came out with a study that found refining the heavy material would create 5 billion tonnes of petroleum coke, or petcoke, used by power plants, aluminum factories and steel mills.

Petcoke is cheaper and releases more carbon dioxide when burned than coal and much of the US petcoke supply is exported.

According to Lorne Stockman, research director for Oil Change International, a Washington-based advocacy group that works for a transition away from fossil fuels, petcoke was coal hiding in the tar sands. He added, the emissions of burning petcoke had not been included in the analyses, until now.

Opponents of TransCanada Corp's 1,661-mile (2,673- km) pipeline are intensifying efforts to stop the project as the US State Department completes its review of a new route in Nebraska that avoids drinking water supplies.

Citing concerns about water, Obama rejected the pipeline a year ago and encouraged the company to reapply.

According to Stockman, he gave state department officials a research report yesterday, which showed 15 per cent to 30 per cent of a barrel of oil sands bitumen could end up as petcoke as against a lighter crude which would have less than 2 per cent.