12-11-07 by dugan
Shell and BP are under fire for talking green and doing the opposite. Britain’s Guardian newspaper has the story.
"Shell, the oil company that recently trumpeted its commitment to a
low carbon future by signing a pre-Bali conference communique, has
quietly sold off most of its solar business.
"The move, taken with
rival BP’s decision last week to invest in the world’s dirtiest oil
production in Canada’s tar sands, indicates that Big Oil might be
giving up its flirtation with renewables and going back to its roots.
and BP are among the biggest producers of greenhouse gases in the
world, but both have been keen to paint themselves green through a
series of clean fuel initiatives."
Extraction of tar sands, shale oil deposits and other heavy petroleums lays waste to the land atop the widely dispersed deposits. Perhaps even worse, extraction requires vast amounts of water, which is polluted and usually wasted, depleting aquifers for miles around. Oil companies keep saying they’re on the verge of water-saving pinpoint techniques for extraction, but it’s’ what Silicon Valley used to call vaporware: continually right around the corner. Sort of like that other oxymoron, clean coal.
BP barely tries to defend the environmental cost of shale oil. Here’s the company line from an earlier story:
"BP accepted that tar sand operations were energy-intensive and would
increase its carbon footprint but said it needed to find new supplies
to meet increasing demand for oil products. ‘Someone is going to
develop these resources and we will bring our standards to bear and
will be developing them as best as possible,’ a spokesman said. "
Here, from Greenpeace Canada, is a more specific description of the unacceptable costs of extracting oil from tar sands. If BP sees tar sands as its future, it should join General Motors in the dinosaur pile. And no one should ever believe its preachy green slogans again.
Shell argues that it just isn’t making money on solar and will instead increase work on other renewable sources of energy. But if the company is giving up on something as simple and immediate as solar, that sounds like an excuse to delay any real action on better alternatives.