Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Obama Delays Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline

I was hoping for a flat-out DISapproval of the Keystone XL pipeline.  But this delay is better than nothing.  The Obama Administration is “delaying” approval for the purpose of finding a different route for transporting tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas.

What “different” route would be better?  Apparently the people of (mostly Republican) Nebraska screamed too loudly; something about their aquifer being jeopardized by a massive oil pipeline running through it.  So there’s, what, a different region of the country where the people WON’T care that their water supply and their surrounding environment would be devastated by a tar sands oil spill?  Good luck with that.

NIMBY means “somebody else’s back yard.”  And this “somebody else” will also scream NIMBY.  And the search continues.

If you like massive oil spills in Alaskan waters and the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll love the Keystone XL pipeline.  (More information on the Keystone XL pipeline here.)

This delay in approval will make the Keystone XL pipeline a major campaign issue for the 2012 election.  It’ll come down to which side has a better PR campaign:  the “Drill Here Drill Now” inbreds or the rest of the population whose IQs are HIGHER than their shoe sizes.

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Blogger BadTux said...

Two data points for your consideration:

a) 50% of all Americans are below average.
b) Average don't seem to be too smart nowadays.


-- Badtux the Waddling Penguin

November 10, 2011 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger jadedj said...

Yep, I'm one of those Nebraskans. Except, I don't want the damned thing anywhere.

November 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

Less power = more poverty. There is a direct correlation to the amount of work that can be done and the amount of available cheap power.

Also, I worked on design equipment for oil processing in Alaska and you would be amazed at the precautions they take at those plants to keep everything spotless. It also turns out that those pipelines were a boon to the caribou.

But then again these are facts and not half truths or kool-ade.

November 10, 2011 at 3:05 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I don't like the pipeline one bit, any more than I like deep water drilling. But we're going to see more of these kinds of increasingly risky measures to feed the country's insatiable demand for oil.

The alternative is to be ever more dependent on places like the Mideast, and we've seen what that means: going to war every few years and getting entangled in a rough, unstable part of the world.

We face a future in which supplies are going to be harder to come by while at the same time emerging countries will be increasingly able to bid up the price of oil.

Politically, if Americans come to a day when, in spite of outrageous high prices, they're going to one station after another only to see signs saying "no gas," and if people can't get heating oil, any party perceived as being responsible for inhibiting supply is going to be in big trouble.

I would like to see a president get elected with the kind of mandate that would allow him to make a bold move, the way Roosevelt moved boldly to develop the A-bomb and Kennedy moved boldly to put a man on the moon.

The bold move I'd like to see that president make is to commit the country to go to hydrogen fuel cell power for vehicles. That would mean bucking a lot of entrenched interests, especially Big Oil, but the rewards for the 99.5 percent rest of us would be incalculable.

November 10, 2011 at 11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One definite fact about the Alaskan pipeline for those who remember it being built with tax dollars....is it was supposed to meet all of the countries energy needs.

Didn't even make a dent.


November 10, 2011 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

The reason he is delaying it so he A-Doesn't lose the support of the Unions who want the work or B-Support of the Environmentalists who don't want it.
He needs both for the 2012 election.
Everything is politics in Obama- land.

November 11, 2011 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

erik - source that!

November 11, 2011 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

The core issue that you folks don't seem to understand is that oil is fungible. The oil will be sold on the open market either way, it's just that whoever buys it via being shipped from Canada's east or west coasts will buy less oil from other sources, which we then buy.

This is not 1973 where OPEC could cut off 1/3rd of our oil supply just by stopping pumping into oil tankers bound for America. This is not a situation where the oil simply won't get to market. It *will* get to market, it just will cost a bit more to get to market since pumping it into and out of ships costs money, which will hurt oil company profits (since the price of oil is set by the market in commodities auctions, not by oil companies). See this . ? That's the world's smallest violin for the plight of the poor deprived oil companies...

In short -- Keystone is unnecessary in order to get that oil to market, and from what I can tell appears to have only one purpose -- to increase oil company profits by removing the need to pump the oil into and out of ships to get it to market. Now, whether it's better to risk oil spills on the ocean, or oil spills over the water supply for the entire Midwest, is a question we can discuss, but this ridiculous notion that lack of Keystone will keep that oil off the market is nothing but a point-and-giggle.

- Badtux the Fungibility Penguin

November 11, 2011 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Snakes! Snakes!
Getting ready for Whacking Day?
What's Whacking Day?

November 11, 2011 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

BT: That's not very encouraging, is it.

jadedj: I don't either.

Jeannie: I have some very close friends who were living in a small town in Alberta near the tar sands oil fields. Their entire community was devastated by tar sands pollution, and nobody cared.

SW: We're going to have to make that bold move someday, and I say the sooner the quicker. Hydrogen fuel cell power, expanded use of solar/wind/kinetic/methane -- it's gotta be done.

Erik: I remember that.

Jeannie: Google it.

BT: Excellent points. Very well put.

Randal: Whacking Day? That sounds a little off-color for a family blog such as this one.

November 11, 2011 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

ERIK - wiki makes no mention of your contention. The US did shell out money for claims and rights but the oil companies have payed way more of that back in taxes.

by the way, Dims don't seem to understand that companies don't pay taxes really, they just put those costs in the price of their product or reduce benifits to their employees.

November 11, 2011 at 11:16 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Bad Tux, from what I've read, the big reason for the Keystone pipeline system is to get the tar sands to where refining and processing plants are, then on to Gulf of Mexico ports.

Tar sands could be piped to Canada's east and west coasts, but is the refining capacity there? Or, will the sands then have to be shipped to refineries before extracted oil is shipped to market? It seems to me adding an extra step of loading tar sands onto ships headed for refineries would be an incredibly expensive extra step. That step would also pose plenty of environmental hazards.

Re: the fungibility of oil, I think I touched on that reality when I wrote, ". . . emerging countries will be increasingly able to bid up the price of oil."

I think the day might be coming when Americans are made to realize the U.S. is no longer the world's leading economic and military power because some other country outbid us for a large quantity of oil, and our representative couldn't go any higher. And then, when the dollar is no longer accepted as the standard currency for oil trading.

November 11, 2011 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

S.W., the processing of the tar sands via thermocracking to a heavy crude oil that can be put into a pipeline and processed in an oil refinery must be done on site, because the tar otherwise cannot be easily transported via anything other than coal bulk carrier (since the tar in the tar sands is a solid at normal temperatures, it can be extracted only via injection of super-heated steam into the aggregate). If the result can be sent in a pipeline, it can also be sent in an oil tanker or in a string of railroad tank cars. It's simply more expensive to do it that way. Whatever way the crude is transported to the refineries in the end-user country, the end game is that it ends up in a crude oil refinery to be cracked to various fractions (heavy bunker oil, gasoline, etc.) as required by the market for fractionated hydrocarbons.

Processing tar sands is very energy-inefficient, requiring a huge amount of energy to extract the hydrocarbons from the aggregate and thermocrack it to something liquid that can be processed in an oil refinery. This drives up its cost compared to crude pumped directly out of the ground. This reduces the profit margins of the oil companies involved in the tar sands project, instead of making more profit than the Canadian national budget they instead make only as much profit as the Canadian health care budget. Horrors, that cannot be allowed! So it goes.

- Badtux the Oily Penguin

November 11, 2011 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Somehow I think whatever Big Oil wants, Big Oil gets.

November 11, 2011 at 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was none other then Chevron itself (know them?) who told us at a Conference I attended at their HQ that they used the Alaskan Crude and traded with the Japanese 2:1 for Iranian Crude (a way to get around the embargo). The simple reason was that their refineries are not up to do Alaskan crude because of it's heavier sulfur content.

"Wait a minute" we are asking "if you knew that Alaska crude had it's problems, why didn't you switch over when you lobbied congress for the pipeline, did they know? Did the public know?"

I've never seen it in Wiki, but I did get it from the horse's mouth.

I've reading that just in the last few years that refineries down in Texas and Chevron in Richmond have completed or in the process of switching over for heavier American like crude.

I'm not sure if it's a good thing after all these years


November 11, 2011 at 2:44 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

BadTux, thanks for the info. You clearly know more about this than I do, so the fill-in is appreciated.

One of the raps against hydrogen fuel cell technology is that its production also requires substantial heat. Of course, hydrogen fuel technology brings with it none of the liabilities of carbon-based, extracted fuels. None! It's 100 percent nonpolluting.

From what I understand, the one area that requires ongoing R&D is minimizing or preventing rust. Other than that, it's good to go, if only the government or some entrepreneurs would take the plunge.

November 12, 2011 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Uhm, no, the biggest rap against hydrogen fuel cell technology is the source of the hydrogen. Right now we have two possible sources of the hydrogen -- water, and hydrocarbons. Water can be cracked into hydrogen and oxygen either via superheating steam (such as in a nuclear reactor that's gone runaway -- thus the explosions that took out major parts of Chernobyl or the equipment buildings at Fukishima) or via electrolysis. Hydrocarbons are, duh, the same old oil and gas that we're so addicted to, and the process is similar to super-heating steam, it involves stripping the hydrogen from hydrocarbons via super-heating it with steam in the presence of oxygen, leaving behind carbon dioxide.

The end result is that either a) hydrogen production requires a *lot* of energy (splitting H2O into hydrogen and water), or is just an inefficient process of burning hydrocarbons (splitting CH4 into CO2 molecules and 4 H molecules). Note that the process of burning methane in your automobile engine uses basically *the exact same process*, except captures more of the waste energy as forward motion -- i.e., it's better for the environment to DIRECTLY burn hydrocarbons, than to split them into hydrogen and carbon.

After examining the hydrogen fuel cell for quite some time, I just cannot make it work from a standpoint of viability. Electric battery packs have attained viability for the typical commute and unlike hydrogen-powered motors, electric motors have almost 100% efficiency (i.e. virtually none of the energy that goes into them is wasted as heat), if 100% of personal vehicles on the road were plug-in hybrids, we'd reduce our carbon footprint by probably more than switching to hydrogen fuel cells, especially if we implement solar roofs and wind turbines on a large-scale basis. In short, hydrogen fuel cells are a technology that is a dead end at present -- using electricity directly, rather than using it to crack hydrogen out of other substances, seems to be the safest bet for the future.

- Badtux the Energy Penguin

November 12, 2011 at 5:14 PM  

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