While the Obama administration continues to boast reductions in U.S. carbon emissions through the incorporation of renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, the darker side of America's changing role as a "dirty energy dealer" and one of the world's top carbon pollution exporters is seldom told.
As journalist Tim Dickinson explores in a new feature-length piece for Rolling Stone, Obama's rhetoric of a reduced U.S. carbon footprint is betrayed by the increasing amount of carbon-intensive fossil fuels that are now being exported all over the world. And as critics of his energy policies continue to point out, the president is in danger of having the destructive realities of his climate related policies overwhelm the promises that he's made about addressing the dangers of a rapidly warming planet.
According to Dickinson:
Even as our nation is pivoting toward a more sustainable energy future, America's oil and coal corporations are racing to position the country as the planet's dirty-energy dealer – supplying the developing world with cut-rate, high-polluting, climate-damaging fuels. Much like tobacco companies did in the 1990s – when new taxes, regulations and rising consumer awareness undercut domestic demand – Big Carbon is turning to lucrative new markets in booming Asian economies where regulations are looser. Worse, the White House has quietly championed this dirty-energy trade. [...]
A major factor in this carbon outsourcing is the proliferation of one of the world's dirtiest energy forms: petroleum coke. "Petcoke" is the "the dirtiest fuel on the planet," says Lorne Stockman, research director for Oil Change International. Petcoke is a byproduct of the tar sands oil refining process and can be burned like coal.
Using Petcoke as an energy source has largely been phased out in the U.S. because of its carbon-intensive and toxic nature.
However, as Dickinson reports, "American energy companies have seized on the substance as a coal alternative for export....Petcoke exports have surged by one-third since 2008, to 33.4 million metric tons; China is now the top consumer, and demand is exploding. Through the first nine months of 2013, Chinese imports were running 50 percent higher than in 2012."
Additionally, U.S. coal exports have increased by 50 percent since Obama took office, and the administration is working to lift tough restrictions on crude oil export.
"The Obama administration wants to be seen as a climate leader, but there is no source of fossil fuel that it is prepared to leave in the ground," said Stockman. "Coal, gas, refinery products – crude oil is the last frontier on this. You want it? We're going to export it."
Read the rest of the story at Rolling Stone here.