Thursday, November 17, 2011

Obama's Indefensible Pipeline Punt

Some excerpts from Vaclav Smil's article in the American.com: 

"With a total length of close to 3,000 kilometers, the new [Keystone XL] pipeline would add just over 1 percent to the already existing network of crude oil and refined products lines that crisscross the United States and parts of Canada. Why, if pipeline safety is a key concern, have we not seen waves of civil disobedience focused on more than a quarter million kilometers of existing pipelines?

Long-term statistics show convincingly that there is no safer way to transport large masses of liquids over long distances than a pipeline. Moving the same amount by trucks or rail would be much more risky, in addition to being vastly more expensive. So would be moving the oil from Alberta to British Columbia and then shipping it by tankers via the Panama Canal to Texas.

 Here comes the craziest twist: if the opponents of the XL succeed and prevent its construction, there is a strong possibility that Alberta’s oil sand-derived oil will be piped westward to Canada’s Pacific coast and loaded on supertankers going to Asia, to feed China’s grossly inefficient industries.

By preventing the oil flow from Canada, the United States will thus deliberately deprive itself of new manufacturing and construction jobs; it will not slow down the increase of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion; it will almost certainly empower China; and it will make itself strategically even more vulnerable by becoming further dependent on declining, unstable, and contested overseas crude oil supplies. That is what is called a spherically perfect decision, because no matter from which angle you look at it, it looks perfectly the same: wrong."

19 Comments:

At 11/17/2011 6:26 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Not sure about this. Who has clout against this pipeline? This does't strike me as an issue to anybody with clout. Obama could give thumb's up or down without fear.

I understand many farmers and ranchers are incredibly angry that their property rights are being trampled on; TransCanada is threatening to take ranchers and farmers to court (think $$$$ lawyers) and seize land by eminent domain.

NYT

"A Canadian company has been threatening to confiscate private land from South Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico, and is already suing many who have refused to allow the Keystone XL pipeline on their property even though the controversial project has yet to receive federal approval.
Randy Thompson, a cattle buyer in Nebraska, was informed that if he did not grant pipeline access to 80 of the 400 acres left to him by his mother along the Platte River, “Keystone will use eminent domain to acquire the easement.” Sue Kelso and her large extended family in Oklahoma were sued in the local district court by TransCanada, the pipeline company, after she and her siblings refused to allow the pipeline to cross their pasture."

This is a private pipeline, and I hope these guys makes piles of money on their investment. But by seizing property? Is that right?

Morgan says if people are dying of thirst, they do not have the right to seize water wells on his land.

But seizing people's ;and for a money-making pipeline is okay?

BTW. it was an GOP governor who said he did not want the pipeline to cross public property, in the Sand Hills region of Nebraska.

"Nebraskans would support TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s planned $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline if it were moved away from a water aquifer, the state’s Republican Governor David Heineman said."

Like so much in the right-wing echo chamber, there is more echo than fact in this pipeline story.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it! (I had to say that).

 
At 11/17/2011 6:35 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Here's an angle to look at it from where it doesn't look so wrong. If we don't start pushing back a little on fossil fuel emissions a lot of people are going to die. Should we listen to almost all scientists? Or should we listen to the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute?

Yeah, Obama's decision may not stop the oil. But on the other hand that little bit of resistance coupled with some other resistance maybe will. For those that care about their grandchildren and maybe don't think short term profits are everything this makes some sense.

 
At 11/17/2011 6:47 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Jon, if the U.S. had a normal V-shaped recovery, the world would be burning a lot more oil.

Instead, we got a depression. You should be happy.

 
At 11/17/2011 6:53 PM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

The dreams of his father.

 
At 11/17/2011 6:54 PM, Blogger Jon said...

That's true, PT. That's because we have a crazy economic arrangement that literally demands we consume more and more year in and year out. You can't hold steady on your consumption. You must increase it or you create unemployment and the corresponding suffering. It really is unsustainable. We will destroy ourselves if we don't change it.

 
At 11/17/2011 7:19 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Jon, I think, recent history has shown you can have cleaner air with more oil consumption.

 
At 11/17/2011 7:30 PM, Blogger Marko said...

The people who are against building this pipeline are like the people who are against building more roads (as in D.C.). Jon above seems to be an example.

The argument is that if we don't build more pipelines, or more roads, then oil will become more expensive and roads more congested. These are good things, the argument goes, because we should be using less oil and drive less, and should rely on other greener fuels and trains or buses more than cars.

Just like the argument against more roads, I think this argument against more pipelines is perverse. Congested roads don't lead to more use of trains and buses, they just cause more air pollution because sitting in traffic reduces your miles per gallon to ZERO while stopped. You just sit there pumping pollution and 'green house gasses' into our precious 'biosphere.' Same with more expensive oil - it hasn't magically lead to a discovery of green fuels, instead it has lead to drilling our vast oil reserves that were not worth drilling at lower prices.

In the mean time, actual people are actually suffering from traffic congestion and higher oil prices. Jobs lost, people marching in the streets, kids starving, democrats getting elected, cats and dogs living together, and other horrible things. These policies of retarding growth only hurt people, and don't advance the liberal agenda. Well, at least directly. It is a typical liberal tactic - screw up the economy with government regulations, and then blame the free market while prescribing more government regulations.

This is nuts!

 
At 11/17/2011 7:35 PM, Blogger Marko said...

And another thing - one of the very few things the government is actually supposed to be doing is providing infrastructure like roads and pipelines. That is what we always here from the left - tragedy of the commons, private sector under provides the common good, internalize externalities, etc. etc. And yet here is the left, arguing that the government should do a bad job at the thing it is actually supposed to be doing in order to influence the supposedly free market to do some stupid thing that these individuals think it should do. Talk about warping the markets with government power! "hey, let's screw up oil drilling and delivery so that the free market will do what we want." That should be impeachable stuff.

 
At 11/17/2011 8:21 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

why not build a refinery in Canada and ship the gasoline via pipeline?

are there not already refineries closer to the Canadian sources than the ones on the Gulf of Mexico?

this sounds like a business decision probably driven by profits rather than a "we cannot do this any other way" type of problem.

Why should a business venture be given the right of imminent domain if the beneficiaries are investors rather than the public?

 
At 11/17/2011 8:33 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

The administration screwed the pooch on this one.

 
At 11/17/2011 9:23 PM, Blogger JohnL said...

get your oil from Canada or continue to rely on the oh so stable North African regions.Do you really have to think about that much????

 
At 11/17/2011 9:29 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" get your oil from Canada or continue to rely on the oh so stable North African regions.Do you really have to think about that much???? "

I'm on board with that idea but why do we have to take Canadian oil on our SOUTHERN border rather than our Canadian border?

We have refineries up north don't we?

why do we need to transport Canadian oil all the way across the country to turn it into gasoline?

 
At 11/17/2011 10:05 PM, Blogger aorod said...

Energy prices go up and Obama plays his fiddle. This could cause another recession. Every extra penny for energy means another penny lost somewhere else.

Perhaps there is a compromise out there. Most people like money, but some are just ornery. Won't sell no matter the price.

If Mexico wasn't so corrupt we could use Mexican oil in the south, Canada in the north.

More and more of consumer energy comes in the form of electricity. As our knowledge of power increases, more will be electrical and less polluting. But it will take 40 or 50 years to replace the internal combustion engine.

Most agree that man made emissions are not the problem. One volcano causes more pollution than 100 years of industrial activity.

 
At 11/17/2011 10:20 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Not sure about this. Who has clout against this pipeline? This does't strike me as an issue to anybody with clout. Obama could give thumb's up or down without fear.

His base on the left is against any fossil fuel use. They want the coal mines closed and the pipelines to be stopped. They also want the nuclear power plants to be idled and for solar and wind to provide all the power that they want.

 
At 11/17/2011 10:29 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Here's an angle to look at it from where it doesn't look so wrong. If we don't start pushing back a little on fossil fuel emissions a lot of people are going to die. Should we listen to almost all scientists? Or should we listen to the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute?

All the scientists? I think you mean just the idiots who fly all over the world to meet in five star resorts so that they can tell us not to use a lot of gasoline. If they believed in what they said they would meet on-line and participate from home. The world has warmed around 2.5C since the Maunder Minimum. That warmth has certainly been great for human beings and for plants and animals on this planet. If we are lucky we will see another 2.5-4 C or so of warming and things will be even better as the need to generate so much energy to heat our homes in winter will greatly diminish.

 
At 11/17/2011 11:42 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon: "Here's an angle to look at it from where it doesn't look so wrong. If we don't start pushing back a little on fossil fuel emissions a lot of people are going to die. Should we listen to almost all scientists? Or should we listen to the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute?"

Although your reason for opposing the pipeline is nonsense, you should consider this: that oil will be developed, and will be delivered somewhere, so why not the Keystone XL pipeline, probably the safest, and most efficient choice available?

 
At 11/17/2011 11:48 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I'm on board with that idea but why do we have to take Canadian oil on our SOUTHERN border rather than our Canadian border?

We have refineries up north don't we?

why do we need to transport Canadian oil all the way across the country to turn it into gasoline?
"

You can probably find the answer to those questions at Wikipedia.

 
At 11/18/2011 4:21 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

If this was some company wanting to use ED to redevelop an urban area for "jobs" - all hell would break loose - AKA - Kelo.

No stinkin group of investors is allowed to take property rights for private gain...right?

but cast that same act as a national "need" for "friendlier" oil and "jobs" - voila - even a cabal of foreign investors must have eminent domain for the country to prosper?

" Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)[1] was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London

I'm shocked. SHOCKED that libertarians would get on board with the Kelo ED concept - property rights for jobs....


talk about fli-flopping on core principles!!

what next?

 
At 11/18/2011 10:42 PM, Blogger Robert said...

Warren Buffet, a quiet lobbier on the pipeline, just bought the part of Burlington Northern RR that he didn't already own. BN services the North Dakota oil fields. In other news, Obama plans to raise $1 billion to finance his reelection campaign.

 

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