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Map: See Where the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline Would Funnel Filthy Tar Sands

A proposed pipeline would cart the dirtiest of dirty fuels through America's heartland.

From extraction to processing to shipping to combustion, tar sands are far and away the dirtiest form of all fuels. It demands enormous amounts of energy to simply extract and then process into crude that can move through a pipeline. It has a 20-percent larger carbon footprint (PDF) than plain old dirty oil. And it leaves toxic wastelands wherever the sands are removed.

Right now, there's a proposal sitting at the State Department for a giant pipeline that would transect the country, carrying dangerous, toxic tar sands oil 1,661 miles from Alberta, Canada, all the way down to refineries on the Texas and Louisiana coasts. It's called the Keystone XL pipeline, and it's obviously enormously controversial. We'll be following the Keystone XL story very closely, over coming months, so consider this just an introduction.

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Another BP Leak Forces Shutdown of Major Alaskan Pipeline

Another year, another BP oil blunder. This one, a leak in Alaska, is driving up oil costs worldwide.

After discovering a leak at a North Slope pumping station, BP was forced to shut down the Trans-Alaska pipeline, which moves more than 12 percent of America's oil output. BP is the largest stakeholder in Alyeska Pipeline Service, which runs the entire pipeline system that stretches 800 miles from the vast Prudhoe Bay oil field to the port in Valdez.

The immediate environmental damage seems to be minimal. According to Alyeska, 10 barrels of oil were recovered from the basement of the pumping station, and one barrel of oil still remains. Though I'm reminded of the brilliant Onion headline: "Millions of Barrels of Oil Safely Reach Port in Major Environmental Catastrophe."

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