tar sands refinery aerial shotThe Senate — when does it not leave widespread devastation in its path?

UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day!

The climate bill being developed by Sens. Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman will reportedly raise taxes on gasoline in lieu of putting oil refineries under a cap-and-trade system. This has led to a great deal of speculation about what might be done with the revenue from such a tax. On Thursday new details leaked, revealing that some of the revenue will go toward tax credits and incentives for the budding U.S. tar sands industry.

Calgary-based Earth Energy Resources recently obtained permits to create Utah’s first large-scale tar sands project, a 62-acre mine expected to pump out some 2,000 barrels of oil per day. The Utah Geological Survey has measured up to 15 billion barrels of oil bound up in the state’s tar sands, and estimates there may be as much as double that volume yet undiscovered. Over the next decade, some $20 billion in gas tax revenue may ultimately go to companies that mine it. “Energy independence is important and pricing carbon is important,” said Graham. “I’m trying to combine them in a business-friendly way.”

The provision has proved to be popular among centrist Democrats and was met with cautious acceptance by mainstream green groups. “Though we generally prefer that tax money not be directed to fossil fuel developers,” said NRDF spokesman Czad Sak, “we remain committed to working with the senators and thank them for their dedication.”

But not all environmentalists were happy with the news. A coalition of liberal groups including GreenOn and Friends of the Biological Diversity quickly issued a statement saying that the provision was “absolutely unacceptable” and threatening to start a Facebook petition.