Crude Reality: One US State Consumes Half the Oil From the Amazon Rainforest

As oil companies carve up more of the rainforest, a new study says no place in the world uses more oil from beneath the Amazon than California

The lighter of an oil processing plant in the rainforest of Ecuador's Yasuni region.
Carlos Noriega for NBC News

The Yasuní National Park in Ecuador is home to one of the most diverse collections of plants and animals on the planet. But beneath this 3,800-square-mile swath of forest lies another kind of treasure: crude oil. More than 1 billion barrels of it. 

Over the past 50 years, oil companies have extracted immense amounts of crude from the Amazon, causing the destruction of rainforest crucial to slowing climate change and jeopardizing the Indigenous tribes who rely on it.

Now, a state-run oil company that subcontracts its field operations to the Chinese is building a road to reach what will be a new section of wells deep inside Yasuní. 

The oil extracted from Yasuní and the wider Amazon is exported around the world, but 66 percent goes to the U.S. on average and the vast majority of that to one state in particular: California, according to a new report shared exclusively with NBC News.

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Americans are addicted to buying stuff — but consumerism doesn't make us happy, and it also contributes to climate change, NBCLX Storyteller Chase Cain explains in the next part of his Climate Change Survival Guide. So this holiday shopping season, which is already more challenging due to supply chain problems, try out alternative gift ideas, like experiences or second-hand items.
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