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Obama's Oil Boom Destroying Hope for Progress on Climate

Accused of projecting 'false image,' US fossil fuel exports eclipsing climate gains

U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel have doubled since President Obama took office. (Photo: Zak355/cc/flickr)

U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel have doubled since President Obama took office. (Photo: Zak355/cc/flickr)

Much heralded efforts to curb global warming by cutting carbon emissions are being effectively cancelled out by the export of fossil fuels and their related pollution which, according to an Associated Press analysis published Monday, have "soared" under President Obama.

U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel, which have doubled during Obama's tenure, have released roughly 1 billion tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere between 2008 and 2013, according to the analysis. These emissions, notes AP investigative reporter Dina Cappielo, "more than made up for" the 475 million tons in emission reductions credited to strengthened environmental standards passed during that time.

"Obama is putting his entire climate legacy at risk by letting fossil fuel production (and exports) expand unchecked," cofounder Jamie Henn wrote in response to the new analysis.

"There is no clear accounting of what America's growth as a fossil-fuel powerhouse is doing to the global-warming picture," writes Cappielo, referring to the domestic oil and gas boom which has jump-started U.S. fossil fuel exports in recent years. Cappielo notes that pending trade agreements and current energy export projects, such as proposed liquid natural gas export facilities or West Coast coal terminals, which are due to increase exported emissions, could also be included in the tabulation.

Further, much of that fuel is exported to countries with lower efficiency standards, worsening its impact on the atmosphere.

The scrutiny over the amount of emissions being outsourced by the United States comes as world leaders continue to meet at the United Nations climate talks in Lima, Peru this week, where the U.S. has faced criticism for its non-binding climate commitment with China. The United States has championed their own emissions reductions as an argument against the need for a legally binding agreement.

"It's a false image," Onel Masardule of the Peru-based Indigenous People's Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative, told AP. "In reality, the U.S is still contaminating."

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