Clean energy expert to talk on effects of tar sands oil in global and local context on April 19

Saint Joseph’s College will sponsor a talk titled “Tar Sands Oil in a Global and Local Context: Energy Panacea or Environmental Calamity?” on Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m., at its Standish campus. Dylan Voorhees, clean energy and global warming project director at Natural Resources Council of Maine, will present the talk, which is free and open to the public.

Voorhees will give an overview of the environmental consequences of tar sands oil reserves, which have only recently been considered for extraction as higher oil prices and new technology enable them to be profitably extracted and upgraded to usable products. According to Voorhees, tar sands oil extraction, upgrade, and distribution emit substantially more climate-changing pollutants than those same processes for conventional crude oil.

“Learning about the lifecycle consequences of tar sands oil is vital for an educated citizenry,” says Dr. Jeanne Gulnick, natural sciences professor and sustainability coordinator at Saint Joseph’s College.

 Voorhees will examine the potential disruption of the boreal forests of Alberta, Canada, where a big tar sands oil reserve is located. He will also talk about the resource’s potential contribution to climate change and the implication of pipeline development, with a look at the role of policy and civic activism. Proposed pipeline routes include the Keystone XL project through the Midwest, a route west to British Columbia, and an increasing focus on an eastern pipeline to Quebec, New Brunswick and even Maine. According to Gulnick, an oil pipeline that could be converted to tar sands oil runs just miles from Saint Joseph’s College along Sebago Lake.

Voorhees earned a B.A. from Columbia University and a master of public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he concentrated in environmental and energy policy. He has worked on wind power for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs in Massachusetts, and on sustainable land use for the Vermont Forum on Sprawl. The Natural Resources Council of Maine is a member-supported organization committed to protecting Maine’s water, air, forests and wildlife.

The talk will take place on Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m., in the Viola George Auditorium of Harold Alfond Hall on the Standish campus. 893-7723.

April 4, 2012
Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail