For Immediate Release: November 12, 2015

Contact: Eric de Place, [email protected], 206-447-1880 x105

Tracking Emissions Report Cover_Sightline Institute_Nov 2015Last week, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a strong stand for climate protection. Yet a new report shows that the oil industry still intends to use massive oil-by-rail terminals proposed in the Pacific Northwest to move their product to market. In fact, in the absence of new pipelines serving the Canadian oil sands fields, the fiercely debated Northwest rail terminals would be the sole driver of new extraction there

That’s according to a new Sightline-commissioned analysis by independent research group Oil Change International (OCI). Taken together, the proposed Northwest oil-by-rail terminals would be the climate pollution equivalent of adding more than 28 million cars to the road.

In Tracking Emissions: The Climate Impact of the Proposed Crude-by-Rail Terminals in the Pacific Northwest, OCI deploys the oil industry’s own forecasting and modeling tools together with a detailed examination of the Northwest facilities’ configurations. Key findings in the report concern:

  • Propping up Canadian tar sands: In the absence of new pipelines, Northwest rail terminals would be the sole driver of new growth in Canadian tar sands oil.
  • Multiplying oil extraction and climate pollution: Oil train facilities in the Northwest could unlock as much as 382,000 barrels per day of new tar sands production that would otherwise not be extracted. The resulting greenhouse gas pollution from extra tar sands production could be as much as 106 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of doubling the total greenhouse gas pollution of Washington state.
  • Feeding the Bakken beast: Northwest oil train terminals could also lead to more oil drilling in the Bakken formation, as much as 114,000 barrels per day beyond what would be produced without the terminals. The resulting greenhouse gas pollution from this extra production could be as much as 30 million tons per year of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of doubling the number of cars on the road in Oregon and Washington.

“Oil companies lost the fight over Keystone, and that’s good news,” says Eric de Place, policy director for Sightline Institute, who commissioned the report. “But the industry won’t stop there. The next tar sands fight is already happening in the Pacific Northwest, a region known as the ‘Thin Green Line’ for its resistance to coal and oil. We’re the next battlefield.”

See the report: Tracking Emissions.


Sightline Institute is an independent think tank providing leading original analysis of energy, economic, and environmental policy in the Pacific Northwest.

Oil Change International is a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy.

November 12, 2015