Tar Sands Timmy, part of a cartoon created by animator and artist Mark Fiore.

Mark Fiore/YouTube

Tar Sands Timmy, part of a cartoon created by animator and artist Mark Fiore.

Keystone XL Explained: Tar Sands Timmy Needs a Ride

If the permutations of the Keystone XL pipeline decision saga seem too convoluted to follow, or the entire controversy is getting you down, never fear. Tar Sands Timmy is here to explain exactly why this 1,700-mile-long, $7 billion industrial project is absolutely necessary.

With or without Keystone XL, oil mined from the tarry, bitumen-laden terrain underneath the boreal forest will find its way south—via rail. While President Barack Obama mulls over the environmental assessment compiled by the U.S. Department of State about the project—from sources whose ties to pipeline builder TransCanada are being investigated—Canada is amping up its railway capacity.

“By the end of next year, rail loading capacity could grow enough to handle 700,000 barrels of crude a day from the oil sands region in western Canada,” CNBC reported on November 4. “Trains currently carry just 150,000 barrels from there, and more than 450,000 barrels a day could be riding the rails by the end of next year.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated Canada’s determination to continue developing the oil sands, even in the face of numerous challenges from First Nations as well as environmentalists.

But before you fall into despair, take a bit of a humor break and hear what Tar Sands Timmy has to say, given life by Mark Fiore, a San Francisco–based Pulitzer Prize–winning editorial cartoonist who creates animated political cartoons. 

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