Ken Collins: Heads in the sand

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Keystone. The pipeline, not the ski area. It’s a Canadian company’s pipeline, oil and decision who gets it. There’s no guarantee they would sell to America. The proposed $7 billion, 2,000-mile pipeline would run through the American heartland and over the Ogallala Aquifer, one of our largest, as well as the waterhole for our cropland. Imagine a huge pipe running like a spine across America. A beautiful landmark, to say the least.

Canada, with a horrible history of environmental concern in other countries, wants the U.S. to carry the disaster possibilities. What if a break occurs? What if some al Qaeda member or other nutcase decides to load a pickup with fertilizer and blow up a section of the pipeline? Can the whole thing be protected? Can we afford another Exxon Valdez in our breadbasket?

The project is to be funded by private money. From who? China? India? They don’t say. TransCanada claims it will create 20,000 jobs, but when further pressed, we find out it is 10,000 jobs for two years. And that’s their math. Our labor studies state it is more like 2,000 to 5,000 jobs, mostly labor and for only two years. And who says they’ll even be American jobs?

The GOP said this will help fund the payroll tax extensions. A couple of thousand jobs for two years? This is from the same folks who helped start our financial fiasco. They said no to a 3.5 percent tax increase on guys like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Tiger Woods, George Clooney, Kobe Bryant and Phil Knight.

How many years until the first drops of oil? Eight? Ten? Where could we be with that much time and that much money in clean alternative energy? Tar sand oil involves millions of gallons of an even more precious resource — water — to be pumped, along with nasty chemicals, into the sand to retrieve a very dirty type of oil. The process is very much like fracking. These processes, along with the burning of this type of oil, will produce up to 40 percent more climate-damaging emissions than conventional crude. What about Obama’s plan to weatherize a few million American homes? That would create hundreds of thousands of jobs from many industries, all American, for many, many years. It would help lower energy consumption instead of increasing our addiction. Talk about a financial help in jobs and tax creation. And there is no environmental damage, but instead a decrease in greenhouse emissions. A win-win?

Canadian oil, across our “fruited plains,” environmental disaster potential, no guarantees, few jobs for a short period of time and very expensive and dirty oil. Gosh, who wouldn’t want that? I think the pro-pipeliners have their heads in the sand — tar sand.

Ken Collins

Oak Creek

Comments

sledneck 2 years, 7 months ago

Ethanol involves water from the ogalala, you idiot. Solar requires water, you idiot. Wind takes nat gas which is produced by fracking, you idiot. There is no such thing as an "american" job, you idiot.

Nevertheless, I wish you well. I am convinced you idiots will win. I'm betting on it...

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Ben Tiffany 2 years, 7 months ago

Oh come one,Sled. You'll still have plenty of fuel to zip around the backcountry. Do you really think that the issues raised here are of no consequence? I agree that your points are valid too,but does that make this pipeline a good idea? I'm willing to be convinced that it is,but I certainly have my doubts.

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

OMG! The first pipeline over the pristine and beautiful landmark known as the Ogallala Aquifer.

Say it isn't so!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ledermanforhouse/6347312239/

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mtroach 2 years, 7 months ago

This pipeline is to bring Canadian oil to the refineries in the south. Can someone please inform me as to why we don't simply build a refinery closer to the oil instead of pumping oil across the USA?

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

Roach, it's cause they already messed with Tejas. That's where the refineries are. Either way, regardless of the refinery location, it still takes pipelines to transport hydrocarbons whether refined or crude.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 7 months ago

The last refinery was built in the US in 1976, roach, It's not a matter of "simply" building a refinery. People like K.Collins would never allow it.

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sledneck 2 years, 7 months ago

OK, I took a valium. Can I start again???

There are already DOZENS of pipelines across the Ogalala. Across all of our "fruited plains".

Justa skier, I agree that the jobs argument is weak. I agree that fracking is a serious concern that might not be wise. I agree that pipelines carry risk. But there is risk in every action. Not preparing for future energy demand is risky. Betting on renewables before the technology is properly developed is risky. Assuming that americans are entitled to never ending jobs and prosperity is risky. Assuming that the rich people will sit still for the plucking instead of getting on a plane is risky.

If it was the "Mecca" the writer suggested he would be fighting to get rid of ethanol as it is sucking that aquifer dry. Ethanol is also driving up food prices. Been to the grocery store lately?

If your car is old and worn out do you park it on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and walk to a car dealership or do you drive the old clunker to where you can, with relative ease, get out of it and into a new car? Same for energy. Let's develop renewables, perfect them and get them mainstreamed. This will take a few dozen years... maybe more. Meanwhile are we going to get out and walk??

Roach, I think the single product (crude) is easier and more cost effective to pipe. I also think that it might have something to do with the many different products that come out of a refinery. That might require lots of different pipes instead of just one. Also, refineries close to pre-existing product distribution pipelines, etc. This infrastructure is already in place, we just have to feed it with the raw material. But I'm just guessing...

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Troutguy 2 years, 7 months ago

Since 1990, there have been more than 5600 incidents of leaking pipelines in the US. Most recently an Exxon Mobile pipeline running across Montana burst, sending 42,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River. And this happened just weeks after a company inspection and federal review found nothing wrong. Gotta love that Govt. oversight and industry "self-regulation". Attached is some interesting reading on the subject......... http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/10/business/energy-environment/agency-struggles-to-safeguard-pipeline-system.html?pagewanted=all

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AuroraBorealis 2 years, 7 months ago

"Keystone XL is an export pipeline.

The Port Arthur, Texas, refiners at the end of its route are focused on expanding diesel exports to Europe and Latin America.

Valero, the key customer for crude oil from Keystone XL and the largest exporter of refined products in the US, has explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors.

Because Valero’s Port Arthur, Texas refinery is in a Foreign Trade Zone, the company is exempt from customs duties on imports and exports as well as state and local taxes."

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BeCoolHoneyBunny 2 years, 7 months ago

Sled, although I disagree with your politics, you make a lot of sense, most of the time.

The real issues are:

  1. whether or not we should peruse tar sands oils on a larger scale because it is more carbon intensive then crude oils. That point might be out weighed by the notion that it would ween us off of middle eastern oil and increase our national security.

  2. are these tar sands oils going to stay in America. It looks like there is no guarantee all this oil could be shipped to foreign markets.

Keep it safe, keep it domestic and I say go for it.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/canadian-oil-sands/kunzig-text

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sledneck 2 years, 7 months ago

What is the one thing that tells all producers/ manufacturers what to make and how much? Price. Price alone.

And the beautiful thing about that is consumers don't need to know all the details.

For example: Orange juice consumers don't need to know that a fungus or hard freeze has hit the orange groves. All they need to see is that prices have risen and they immediately understand the need to conserve orange juice. Maybe switch to grape juice for a week or two. Same for every product, including oil. Except with oil there is no "grape juice" substitute so interruptions to supply exacerbate price pressures exponentially.

If the price did not make tar sands oil feasible there would be no such thing. Dittos for every other product and material on earth.

Oil is a fungible. It's like currency. As far as the market is concerned it does not matter where on earth it comes from as long as X barrels comes to market each day.

But having a large amount of oil controlled by butheads who like strapping bombs to themselvs and flying planes full of women and children into buildings is problematic to say the least. In my opinion, that is the big victory in working with friendly nations such as Canada for energy development.

The only market for oil is the WORLD market. It does not matter whether the tar sand oil stays in America or not. Putting a certain amount of supply into the world market is what governs price. And working with a neighbor who has proven to be reasonable and freindly for 2 centuries is a no-brainer.

Stable oil/ energy prices = a more peaceful, less hungry world. Pinching supply points, production facilities and exploration in an attempt to force a new, "greener" point of view onto the world will cause energy prices to rise, food production to drop and pollitical instability to increase worldwide. All of those things hurt the worlds poorest the most.

No person who wishes to manipulate energy prices higher for idealogical reasons can honestly claim to be a defender of the poor and down-trodden. Allowing the world to get to greener energy on a timetable that considers the plight of the worlds poor is in the best interest of all mankind.

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