LIFESTYLE

As U.S. fuel exports increase, places like Panama's rainforests pay the price
Panama is the largest recipient of American diesel fuel that is dirtier and more carbon-laden than would be allowed in engines in the U.S., but the fuel ends up in cars and trucks that don't have the same efficiency standards, and the ones who will pay for that are the fragile ecosystems of the forests and small islands of the country.
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In this Monday, Sept. 15, 2014 photo, cargo ships billow smoke from their engines while passing through the Pedro Miguel locks at the Panama Canal near Panama City. Panama says it contributes no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere because its sizeable forests absorb more than what is released from vehicle tailpipes and deforestation, the biggest sources of climate-altering pollution in the country. But it excludes pollution released from three dozen or more oceangoing vessels that pass through the Panama Canal each day, paying about $250,000 per trip. Ship pollution, which accounts for about 3 percent of global carbon emissions, is not on any countryĆ¢s balance sheet. It is controlled by the International Maritime Organization, which has taken steps to make modern ships more efficient. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 photo, a man paddles his traditional fishing vessel near Gardi Sugdup island, Panama. The Guna people have reduced what was already a minuscule carbon footprint: They cook with clean-burning gas. They use a small amount of diesel fuel to power fishing boats and a generator to light bare bulbs dangling above dirt floors after sunset. They own one of the most pristine stretches of tropical rainforest in all of Panama, cleansing the atmosphere of carbon dioxide naturally. But larger forces threaten to uproot them, stemming from the failure by the rest of the world to rein in carbon emissions and as carbon rises, so will the seas that imperil them. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Sunday, 7, 2014, photo, a young man sits on a dock near houses built next to the sea in the Gardi Sugdup island, Panama. The Guna people have reduced what was already a minuscule carbon footprint: They cook with clean-burning gas. They use a small amount of diesel fuel to power fishing boats and a generator to light bare bulbs dangling above dirt floors after sunset. They own one of the most pristine stretches of tropical rainforest in all of Panama, cleansing the atmosphere of carbon dioxide naturally. But larger forces threaten to uproot them, stemming from the failure by the rest of the world to rein in carbon emissions and as carbon rises, so will the seas that imperil them. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Guna indigenous men sit on a dock in the Llano Gardi community at Cardi Sugdup island, Panama. The Guna people have reduced what was already a minuscule carbon footprint: They cook with clean-burning gas. They use a small amount of diesel fuel to power fishing boats and a generator to light bare bulbs dangling above dirt floors after sunset. But larger forces threaten to uproot them, stemming from the failure by the rest of the world to rein in carbon emissions and as carbon rises, so will the seas that imperil them. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014 photo, a worker walks in front a wall of the Panama Canal expansion project on the Pacific side in Cocoli, Panama. Panama has long been a key player in the global energy trade because of the Panama Canal. It is positioning itself to be an even bigger conduit for U.S. energy exports when a $5.2 billion, third set of locks is completed next year. This will enable tankers full of U.S. liquefied natural gas and potentially crude oil to transit. The country is also expanding its network of trade zones, which allow for duty-free imports and export of gasoline and diesel. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 photo, scientist Stanley Heckadon Moreno points out at an old submerged railroad line on a beach at the Galeta Point Marine Laboratory of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal outskirt of Colon City, Panama. A paper by researchers at the institute in 2003 found the sea surrounding the low-lying archipelago on the Caribbean coast, home to the Guna indigenous people, is rising 2 millimeters per year. Using satellite photos, they calculated how much land had already gone underwater from 1966 to 2001. It was about the size of 12 football fields. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014 photo, an automobile emissions test facility stands empty while waiting for customers in Panama City. The energy-efficiency push is all but absent in Panama, where gasoline sells for about $1 a gallon. The government discounts the price because the fuel is dirtier than what foreign refiners charge for cleaner blends of U.S. gasoline. Among the things they are not enforcing are tailpipe tests aimed at making sure cars are running efficiently and releasing the least amount of pollution. The workers and owners said no one comes for the $16 test. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Guna indigenous women walk in a street in the island of Gardi Sugdup, Panama. Perhaps no one stands to lose more from climate change in Panama than the Guna, who have fiercely protected their primitive way of life on this low-lying archipelago on the Caribbean coast. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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In this Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 photo, a group of Guna children sit in a small alleyway between homes in the island of Gardi Sugdub, Panama. Perhaps no one stands to lose more from climate change in Panama than the Guna, who have fiercely protected their primitive way of life on this low-lying archipelago on the Caribbean coast. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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This Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 photo shows a general view of the rainforest near the ocean, as seen from Guna Yala, Panama. Deforestation is by far the biggest source of carbon pollution in Panama, and the government is working to ensure that it plants trees or protects forests so its carbon balance sheet remains positive. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

As U.S. fuel exports increase, places like Panama's rainforests pay the price

Panama is the largest recipient of American diesel fuel that is dirtier and more carbon-laden than would be allowed in engines in the U.S., but the fuel ends up in cars and trucks that don't have the same efficiency standards, and the ones who will pay for that are the fragile ecosystems of the forests and small islands of the country.

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