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Anti-pipe folks say he's just "kicking the can" to boost election hopes, pipe supporters say he's killing jobs

In one fell swoop the President of the United States (POTUS) Barack Obama managed to infuriate Canadians and Republican U.S. politicians alike.  Those are typically mutually exclusive feats, but his decision to bow to activist pressure and shelve the development of a critical oil pipeline is drawing criticism from both sides.

I. To Oil Sand, or Not to Oil Sand, That is the Question

Dubbed the Keystone XL pipeline, the pipe in question was supposed to stretch 1,700 miles across the U.S. plains, transporting process oil sands crude -- a low to mid-grade crude to U.S. refineries in Texas for procesing into fuel (the initial removal of sand would occur at local facilities in Alberta). 

Currently the Alberta tar sands are underutilized due to insufficient refining capacity.  Meanwhile refineries in Texas sit idle due to insufficient domestic oil supplies.  The pipeline would have remedied both problems, pumping the equivalent of 700,000 barrels a day (249.2m barrels a year) into the U.S. market.  

The U.S. uses 19.15m barrels/day, so the new supply would offer approximately 3.7 percent of the domestic demand.  While that may sound trivial, it would allow the U.S. to potentially entirely drop one of its more hostile sources of foreign oil, such as Venezuela (806,000 barrels/day) or Iraq (637,000 barrels/day).

Aside from the direct savings in life and financials stability that could yield, the pipeline also offered more benefits.  According various studies the construction would create between 5,000 and 20,000 jobs.  It would also give $5B USD in new tax revenue.

Iraq Militants
The pipeline could completely eliminate American dependence on volatile Iraqi oil, a dependence that has cost the lives of many American servicepeople. [Image Source: Dalje]

Like everything in the world, though, there was a perceived downside for these gains.  First, the pipeline would likely cross through personal property dropping local value.  Second, it could potentially elevate local risks of toxic oil spills -- a major public fear in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Last, but not least oil sands require a more intensive separation process than standard oil.  The cost of getting all that sand out is a 10 to 30 percent emissions hike in greenhouse gases [source].  As you might guess, the amount of emissions is tied to the cost of the refining process, so the final number would like be closer to a 30 percent increase, than the lower estimate.

However, that emissions hike occurs largely at the extraction level, meaning that as long as Alberta finds someone to sell/ship its crude to, the emissions hit will be taken, regardless of whether that someone happens to be the U.S.  It's unclear whether the pipelines environmentalist adversaries realize this and are just morally opposed to being involved.

Recent studies have shown that in the last decade global temperatures flatlined, even as greenhouse gas emission continued to rise.  Yet many environmentalists and their powerful political allies remain convinced that the long-term trend will be continued warming.  Many of these parties predict a doomsday "runaway warming" scenario, in which soaring temperature amount to mass humans deaths.

Groups like 350.org, Bill McKibben, Bold Nebraska's Jane Kleeb, and Friends of the Earth decried the potential environmental (mostly global warming) impact of the pipeline and threatened to drop support for President Obama if the project was granted a speedy approval.  If these groups sound familiar, they're among those who attacked the POTUS on his support of modern nuclear power -- pressure that the President Obama caved to in the wake of Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident.

Further threats to the project came from the Republican-controlled Nebraska State Senate, which looked to take legal action [PDF] to block the pipeline.  The state senators were upset about the oil pipe crossing the state's key water supply (aquifer).

It didn't help that the State Department received a complaint [PDF] that the pipe operator TransCanada (TSE:TRP) -- the pipeline company -- had a business relationship with the "independent" contractor hired by the State Department to conduct the review.  The pipeline supporters saw their attacks on the President regarding insider actions with "green" firms like Solyndra turned back on them.

Reports of robocalls erroneously indicating public support also have been circulating around the blogosphere, damaging the momentum for approval.

II. POTUS Caves to Pipe Critics, "Kicks the Can" to 2013

As an apparent result of these cumulative protests the Obama administration has punted the approval process two years out.  The State Department announced this week, that approval "could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2013."

The key words there are "could" and "2013".  The State Department primarily blames the Nebraska state government, commenting, "Given the concentration of concerns regarding the environmental sensitivities of the current proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, the Department has determined it needs to undertake an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes in Nebraska."

But it's seems likely the decision also had something to do with the Obama administration fearing the loss of votes in the upcoming 2012 presidential elections.

President Obama faced enormous pressure, even from his own staff.  Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu (Ph.D) was reportedly fearful that the project would kill alternative energy jobs and investment.  He pointed to a Cornell University study, which claimed that the project would result in net job loss due to a negative impact on the alternative energy sector.

Cornell Report
A Cornell University report broke with most analyses, claiming the pipe would cost jobs.
[Image Source: Cornell University]

III. Obama Receives Most of the Punishment, Little of the Praise for Choice

Ironically the move is earning the President less support than he may have hoped.  While Daniel Kessler, spokesperson with Tar Sands Action, commented, "This is a major victory.  It's a testament to the thousands of people who came out to protest in the streets, and we think the president responded to that," other critics scoffed at the decision.

Glenn Hurowitz, a senior fellow at the activist think tank Center for International Policy, writes in a piece in The Huffington Post, "This is an extraordinary achievement for the thousands of grassroots activists... [but] I'm a little dismayed at suggestions that this kick-the-can decision means environmentalists will enthusiastically back President Obama in 2012. Is the price of an environmentalist's vote a year's delay on environmental catastrophe? Excuse me, no."

Meanwhile opponents are pointing their barbs primarily at Obama, overlooking the activist and local political action.  Writes American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard, "This decision is deeply disappointing and troubling.  Whether it will help the president retain his job is unclear, but it will cost thousands of shovel-ready opportunities for American workers."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was even more pointed commenting, "More than 20,000 new American jobs have just been sacrificed in the name of political expediency. By punting on this project, the president has made clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions -- at the expense of American jobs."

In short, as with many of his recent actions President Obama finds himself receiving most of the punishment, but little of the praise for actions he set in motion.  In trying to walk the tightrope of pleasing both sides, he has badly slipped -- many anti-pipe advocates are reprimanding the President for merely shelving rather than killing the decision, while the pipe's supporters are attacking the President for shelving the product.

President Obama is sad
President Obama faces criticism from all sides for the way he punted on the pipeline approval. [Image Source: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images]

TransCanada is disappointed, but hasn't given up on the pipe.  It's sunk $1.7B USD into steel, which will now sit in warehouses for two more years.  Company president and CEO Russ Girling optimistically comments, "We remain confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.  This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed."

One poll [source] found 85 percent of Americans to strongly or moderately agree with taking advantage of oil sands.  The poll was sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, but it was conducted by the respected Harris Interactive agnostic metrics firm.  If those numbers are even close to reality, the president may be in trouble should he be pitted against a strongly pro-oil sands candidate like Ron Paul.

If the U.S. chooses not process Alberta's oil, there's already someone stepping up to the plate to take its place -- China.  It's looking to pour billions to building an alternate pipeline to west coast of Canada for affordable shipping to Asia.  The only thing standing in its way?  You guessed it -- local property holders and environmentalists in western Canada -- who are apparently just as eager to block the project as their American counterparts.

Sources: The U.S. State Department, CNN Money, The Huffington Post, Mining.com



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

All I can say is
By geddarkstorm on 11/11/2011 5:46:17 PM , Rating: 1
Foolish. Such a foolish decision.




RE: All I can say is
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/11/2011 6:30:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Foolish. Such a foolish decision.

Yep, if alternative energy can only stand by squelching domestic oil production is it worth it?

Republicans take note: your Nebraskan state government colleagues have contributed to this as much as anyone.

All I can say is that there's only one candidate who even stands a shred of chance who, to quote Jimmy McMillan, isn't "Playing the silly game."

Ron Paul would never make this kind of decision.

Most Americans today are increasingly libertarian (social liberals, fiscal conservatives) in philosophy....

Source:
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/2...

...but feel compelled to vote for a candidate in one of the two mainstream parties out of practicality. Well here's your chance to vote for a social liberal and fiscal conservative.

<rant>

And for those haters who say he's anti-abortion, etc. you're misinformed. Some issues he supports putting in the hands of states. So it's essentially a non-issue given that even conservative South Dakota, North Dakota, Mississippi recently voted down an abortion ban.

And hey, I personally have no problem with early abortions aside from the medical risks and support a woman's right to choose in my state, but I'm fine with Paul's philosophy:

If voters in a state are too oblivious to realize that 75-80 percent of fertilized eggs DIE ON THEIR OWN and that the brain is essentially on par with a minnow until the period of rapid growth which occurs roughly 6 months in, I say hey, you can't stop stupid. Let uneducated states find their own way.

</rant>


RE: All I can say is
By ipay on 11/11/2011 7:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry Jason, but Ron Paul stands ZERO chance of ever becoming president. I don't care if Obama started randomly insulting strangers on national TV during the debates - Ron Paul still wouldn't win.


RE: All I can say is
By FITCamaro on 11/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: All I can say is
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/11/2011 11:46:21 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Oh I'd elect Ron Paul over Obama even if he tried to assassinate Obama on live television.

Wow wow wow, that's just too much. I can see saying you want Obama out of office, but suggesting you'd support someone attempting to murder him -- even in jest? That's just too nuts.

I didn't like much of Bush Jr.'s policies and I'm finding I don't like much of Obama's policies either. But I wouldn't wish death on either of them or any U.S. President ever no matter what political party. Anyone who tried to murder a U.S. president, no matter how good or bad a president you or I think they are, should be thrown in jail to rot for those actions.

Don't like Obama? Don't like Romney? Don't like George W. Bush? How about taking a bit of responsibility and recognizing that it's Americans who have allowed this political system to take root -- a system where the two parties essentially are only different in superficial political pandering, for the most part, while bending over backwards to their corporate masters of choice who paid their way into office.

Think American politicians are representing YOU when nearly half the money that it takes to get them elected is coming from corporations? No way. They're looking out for their big donors, for the most part, because the U.S. has some of the most lax campaign finance laws in the developed world.

Since when did corporations get to vote? There's a very simple solution. Ban corporate contributions at a party level; make it a zero-tolerance criminal offense for any candidate accepting corporate campaign contributions (e.g. bribes) from making decisions directly effecting that company's business sector; and last but not least make it a criminal offense for fiscal officers at any corporation found funneling money through the system.

With that simple law, you're still allowing corporate contributions, assuming they really believe in the candidate and aren't just looking to buy a favor. Of course, don't hold your breath about many corporations donating in such an atmosphere -- they're not in the business of giving away money; they pay to get a bigger payout in return, often at the expense of the taxpayer.

But returning to the topic of the POTUS, the suggestion of supporting his murder is reprehensible, no matter how much corporate money he's taking or how much public health care he's promising.

quote:
But I'd rather have a president who supports the idea of the US being the dominant nation in the world.

And yet the U.S. armed forces donate more to Ron Paul than any other candidate. <sarcasm>I'm sure they're doing that because they're hoping for the U.S. to lose its dominance?</sarcasm>

Or did you think that maybe the U.S. military supports Ron Paul's plan because it makes sense financially and safeguards the U.S.?

You can exercise international dominance far more cheaply without foreign military bases (occupying forces, in effect)and without funneling weapons to insurgents.

When Ron Paul talks about foreign policy change, he's talking about stopping things like the U.S. giving weapons to Libyan insurgents (along with the rest of NATO). We poured weapons on the region, taking on the role of arms dealer in a local conflict (while turning our back on other equally tragic murderous abuses of power like Syria). Now we're HOPING those weapons get returned to us:
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/08/gadhafis-l...

Whoops, thanks Obama.

If Ron Paul's philosophy was applied in the 1980s, the U.S. would never have funneled the weapons to Iraq that Saddam Hussein used to kill his own people and invade Kuwait:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/12/31/world/ma...

To be fair East Germany (largely ex-Nazi corporations) and the UK (who was at the game of hegemony long before modern America) gave Iraq MORE weapons than we did. But our meddling certainly made the situation worse for ourselves and others in the future.

Likewise, we won't know the impact of handing weapons like candy to the Libyan insurgents, but why take the risk in the first place?

As for the issue of military bases and occupying forces, Britain is the only major power to maintain anywhere close to the number of permanent foreign bases as us.

Is that really who we want to model our nation after -- a faded colonial empire whose government to this day idolizes a monarchy?

And what's the use of these occupying bases? Is it worth spending billions to maintain them, when we don't have enough money to pay our bills at home and are getting our government's credit rating downgraded?

The answer is a resounding no. If the nuclear community condoned us crushing a non-nuclear foreign nation we could do it with or without the costly foreign military bases.

Heck, Britain proved that point for us:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falkland_Islands_War

It crushed Argentina's less technologically advanced forces almost entirely using troops shipped from the homeland.

We could do the same if our government and the American people ever felt it absolutely necessary.

In the meantime we'd avoid the massive cost of maintaining bases overseas that are only sporadically used.

To give a practical analogy, it'd be like if I only travel to San Antonio, Texas once ever 10 years for a story, it'd make more sense to rent a car and hotel room rather than buying a house and a car and having to periodically take trips to maintain them in hopes that the time might someday come for me to use them.

I think Ron Paul's argument has a lot of logic behind it.
quote:
Rather than one hiding behind a fence hoping nothing bad ever happens and then trying to ignore it when it does.

A final comment. A draw down in foreign troop deployment and sending weapons to foreign conflicts is not "hiding". Anyone who's taken martial arts can tell you that the true definition of strength is learning to defend yourself, not to attack.

That's the role of a military in the modern era -- to defend you. You don't have to occupy foreign regions to defend yourself. Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya aren't going to invade us. And if we practice good police work, intelligence gathering, and border control even their craziest people won't stand a threat to us in terms of domestic terrorism.


RE: All I can say is
By Reclaimer77 on 11/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: All I can say is
By FITCamaro on 11/13/2011 8:49:50 AM , Rating: 1
Fast & Furious has resulted in the deaths of dozens if not more. Not 6-7. 6-7 US citizens sure. But in Mexico, the drug cartels are quite happy with the guns the Obama administration sold them and are using them to kill anyone who speaks out against them.

And thank you for breathing a sense of reason into my last post. Liberal groups burned Bush in effigy on many occasions and publicly shouted they hoped he died. Did the vast majority of the media care? Nope. "Right to free speech" it was called.


RE: All I can say is
By FITCamaro on 11/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: All I can say is
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/11/2011 9:35:59 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I mean hell he called going after and killing Bin Laden a bad idea.

Before you give people the wrong idea, let's be clear what he ACTUALLY said.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/12/ron-pau...

He said that he would have taken the information to Pakistan and demanded they capture OBL. His comment left it unclear whether OBL would then be handed to U.S. custody or locally tried, but either way he'd almost certainly receive the death penalty in court.

Obviously the criticism here is that Pakistan could have turned its back on billions in foreign aid and let OBL escape.

We all know Obama got the job done when it comes to OBL (or more aptly the U.S. special forces following his commands got the job done ^_^). Would Ron Paul's approach have worked? No one can say.

But he did want OBL tried and executed, if you've listened to his past comments.

quote:
The last time our nation followed a foreign policy like his we had World War 2.

Hey, hey American isolationism didn't cause WWII, though it might have prolonged it (and saved American lives in the process). What really bred WWII was Germany's economic collapse (bred by punitive reparations demands -- i.e. looting -- imposed on Germany by Britain and France to the helpless indignation of the U.S.) that allowed nationalists to take over in Germany. In Japan the root cause was arguably the combination of racism against the Japanese (being denied entry into the League of Nations, resources -- again Britain and France were the prime suspects here) combined with the long latent Japanese nationalist tradition finally given super powers by its industrial revolution at the turn of the century.

Nobody created the evil that was Nazi Germany in an ultimate sense but Adolf Hitler and his henchman, but they would never have been able to take hold (nor would Tojo and Japanese ultranationalists) were it not for the actions of Britain and France -- among other significant factors.

Should the U.S. have intervened sooner? Who knows. It might have saved some lives (namely EUROPEAN lives) at the cost of other lives (namely AMERICAN lives). As it was Britain and Germany's new adversary Russia deflected the brunt of the German might, while the U.S. waged what essentially a separate war with Japan. Once that war was wrapping up (after the victories of 1943), we stormed into Germany in June 1944 and wrapped up, with the help of our European allies.

I fail to see how the U.S. in virtually any major way caused WW II (which seems to be what your comment alludes to, unless that appearance was unintentional.)

I'd even go as far as to say the U.S. leadership was smart to stay out of the conflict when the Nazis were at their strongest -- from 1939-1941 ; and were smart staying out of Europe from 1941-1944 when we were fighting a close war in the Pacific with Japan. American lives were saved by this approach.

It's easy to say we should have invade Germany pro-actively before 1939, but at the time no one know the atrocities the Nazis were breeding and Germany was merely embroiled in what appeared to be a local conflict (with Poland) -- not uncommon in European history.

Remember, America was funnelling weapons to Britain and French resistance throughout the war during its so-called "isolationism" -- it just wasn't risking American lives until the time was right.
quote:
Ron Paul will never be a serious candidate because of all his insanely bad ideas. Not for lack of good ones.

I'd say the most insanely bad idea is sticking to the current broken system as the country goes down the tubes. But I agree no one is perfect and some of his ideas would inevitably not work out. But at least he's trying to think up creative new solutions and ditching the status quo.

<rant>
quote:
AKA, the baby has already implanted itself in the uterus and is a living, breathing person

Actually rudimentary lungs form four weeks after blastocyte implantation (reread your literature).

Blastocytes implant typically with 7-12 days of fertilization [1]. Lungs grow 36-42 days after fertilization [1].

Source
[1] William J. Larsen (2001). Human embryology. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

I'm sure you meant "living" in an emotional sense, seeing as the earliest ever survival was of a 21 week and five day old fetus (month 4 1/2):
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1211950/Pr...

I'd say for the first three months (when most abortions occur) it's hard to argue the baby is alive as the fetus would stand no chances of surviving and successfully maturing without WILD advances in modern medicine.

As for killing puppies, we kill justify killing animals all the time. A 1 month old fetus -- as I point out above -- is by no means a full fledged human. Maybe you can argue that killing any being of your own genetic makeup is criminal, but then that's an argument against birth control as well, then you're killing gametes with your genetic "stuff".

And claiming killing a fetus after fertilization is murdering a human is also an argument that a vast number of women should be tried for making decisions (e.g. diet etc.) that contribute to 80 percent fetal death rate -- much of which occurs before the woman realizes she's pregnant (e.g. Reckless Homocide). Heck if that was your philosophy you'd have to support government probing of every sexually active woman's uterus for signs of whether her actions might be leading to death of her fetus and accidental murder.

By your standard a significant portion of women who never have an abortion are accidental murderers without even knowing it, for accidentally making decisions that killed their unborn fertilized eggs (that night at the gym when the blastocyte shook lose -- you murdered it!).

If you accept killing gametes, you're killing potential undeveloped future humans. At 1 month you still are killing an undeveloped future human, only from two humans now.

I would support a law that allowed the father to block early stage abortions, assuming the father was not facing rape charges re: the pregnancy. Under such a law the father could demand that a fetus be tested (once technology allows) and that abortions before 3 months be disallowed if the genetic material matches and he doesn't approve of the abortion (hey, it's his baby too).

Sadly the tech isn't there (to my knowledge) to support such an approach.

I would also support a ban on abortions after 3 months, except in the case of the threat of maternal death. In the case where the baby cannot be delivered and the mother will die without abortive surgery (extremely rare), this is essentially akin to other examples of doctors choosing to make medical decisions that may take a life (e.g. separating conjoined twins).

But honestly I think that it's extremely hard to argue the fetus is living or human (in the sense of a born human) in the first three months, any more than you can argue that sperm and eggs are tiny humans.

After three months, fine, ban away, I'd be behind you on that from a biological/scientific perspective.

But if you're talking bans on early abortion, you're essentially looking to impose your religious views on others -- which aren't even shared among all members of any given faith I might add -- at the cost of human freedom. There's no scientific evidence, one more time, that shows a 1 month old fetus could survive ex-situ.
</rant>


RE: All I can say is
By Reclaimer77 on 11/12/11, Rating: 0
RE: All I can say is
By thurston2 on 11/12/11, Rating: 0
RE: All I can say is
By Dorkyman on 11/13/2011 6:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
Oooh, I love it when people use the F-word to show that they REALLY REALLY mean it.


RE: All I can say is
By Skywalker123 on 11/15/2011 10:25:54 PM , Rating: 1
You're right,we caused WWII because of our stupid foreign policies, like getting involved in WWI and embargoing Japan, provoking them to attack us.


And let's not forget...
By JonnyDough on 11/11/2011 11:38:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...Second, it could potentially elevate local risks of toxic oil spills -- a major public fear in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Let's not forget too the oil spill from the pipeline in Michigan in the Kalamazoo River that drains into Lake Michigan. The company in charge of the pipeline failed to do its upkeep on the pipe for about a decade. People got sick from contaminated well water, the already low home values dropped even more, and the government was trying to cover it up - confiscating cameras and denying people access to a public river. Should people be wary of pipelines? Take it from someone who lives in the area where all this took place (I know a cleanup worker {former military} who went on the news to say that said company was saying it was clean when it wasn't) I would say unequivocally; yes.




RE: And let's not forget...
By bobsmith1492 on 11/12/2011 1:41:10 AM , Rating: 3
BS. I live here too (for real that is, who knows where you live) and there's no cover up. Everyone knows about it, I saw the floating baffles in the river that were used to contain it, more or less, and it didn't end up being a big deal. Take your enviroactivism elsewhere.


F*$* the oil and gas industry
By texbrazos on 11/14/2011 6:53:20 PM , Rating: 2
I am not sure about all the rest of you, but I am soooo sick of getting screwed by big oil and gas. Let's see, they make record profits not once but twice while the US is in financial hell. Their products are polluting our air, water, and land from the time they pump it from the ground to the combustion fumes in our vehicles.
Most people with a little common sense want something better, and are tired of all the excuses and feet dragging by the politicians whose pockets are being lined by big oil to keep stalling.
Why in the hell, would we need a pipeline anyway? Stupid! Make a refinery in Canada if you must build something.
Anyway Electric is here and growing, Hydrogen is also very promising. The beauty of electric is that it can be charged from any source of power wind, solar, wave, biomass, nat. gas., nuke, coal, etc.
Again, Eff the oil and gas industry. Their time for honoring themselves is about to come to an end and good riddance to a corrupt industry that is crippling the world.




RE: F*$* the oil and gas industry
By Ringold on 11/15/2011 1:53:10 PM , Rating: 3
Guess where those profits go? Capital expenditures, building hugely expensive rigs and other equipment, and stuffing drilling locations full of people making 50 - 80, even 100k a year. Some of the technology used to get at deep oil deposits.. Lets put it this way, engineers I know have described it as equally as difficult as putting a man on the moon. Not outrageous, considering technology is more advanced now then the 60s, but still. When you're talking about drilling MILES under water, the pressures and temperature deltas are incredible. The oil and natural gas industries push the envelope in a number of fields.

A lot are diversified as well, like BP; they're a big player in the solar field.

But screw logic, to hell with those high-paying high-tech jobs!


Let's look at the facts for once
By Namicus on 11/12/2011 1:33:01 AM , Rating: 2
I work for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and I can say that it is extremely frustrating to see the environmental side twist the facts. Canada emits 2% of the global total of GHGs. Oil sands operations are responsible for 6.5% of that 2%. Another way to put this into perspective is that oil sands operations emissions in 2009 were 45 megatonnes. That was equivalent to only 4.5% of GHGs emitted from the American coal fired power generation sector. Environmentalists are so wrapped up in the emotionalism that there is no room for facts. Let's stop painting the oil sands as some demonic thing that will destroy the world and see it for what it is. A reliable source of energy extracted from one of the most heavily regulated and responsible oil and gas extracting countries in the world.

http://www.capp.ca/UpstreamDialogue/OilSands/Pages...




RE: Let's look at the facts for once
By Ringold on 11/12/2011 1:31:40 PM , Rating: 2
I'd posit that environmental leaders are well aware of your facts and the benefits the project would bring; it's that they simply dont care. Cheap, reliable energy doesn't play in to their ideology or goals, so it has to be opposed.

Though that's probably 5 - 10% of the environmentalists. The other 90% are useful idiots that buy in to the propaganda. Some NIMBY folks, too.


Assumptions
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 11/12/2011 8:26:35 PM , Rating: 1
I would like to like Jim Boehner. But when he attributes motivation for Obama's actions, he crosses the line. By his own words he is a hypocrite! He accuses Obama of politics as usual while in that very accusation he is using politics as usual. If Jim would have just said that he disagreed, then that would be OK. But he starts trying to read Obama's mind. I lose all respect for people like that. Only his God can read other peoples minds. Or is he a prophet? He is only guessing, until he offers solid evidence. Even if he guesses right, he is wrong. But in my experience, people who try to read other peoples minds are always wrong.




RE: Assumptions
By Dorkyman on 11/13/2011 6:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I think most folks following Messiah's actions for the past 3 years can draw a fairly accurate bead on how the man thinks.


Incorrect assertion
By MrTeal on 11/11/2011 7:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
Jason, the following paragraph isn't accurate.
quote:
Dubbed the Keystone XL pipeline, the pipe in question was supposed to stretch 1,700 miles across the U.S. plains, transporting oil sands -- a highly unrefined crude to U.S. refineries in Texas, after the initial removal of sand at local facilities in Alberta


The pipeline transports synthetic crude, not bitumen. What they send down has a density right about the boundary between medium and light crude. The refineries use it like they would light crude coming from Saudi Arabia.




One Foul Swoop
By TheRealArdrid on 11/11/2011 8:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
Am I to assume you meant one 'fell' swoop?




Ship it
By PinnacleX on 11/12/2011 8:58:28 PM , Rating: 2
This is something else, I thought the black man was smarter then that!? Well, stupidity never seizes to amaze. Did he forget that the US needs that 10 million barrels from somewhere and this was a good place to start?, I guess it wont be from the only friendly that you got left. Go with the Arabs. Harper's already on the ball http://news.ca.msn.com/canada/canada-wants-in-to-n...
I would love to see refineries here in Canada and fuel at .20 cents a liter, ship the rest to where they want it, Asia. If they Americans don't want it and they don't want the jobs the FU.




By IMOO on 11/14/2011 10:23:54 AM , Rating: 2
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) provided the proposed "route" for the pipeline, based on the fact that much of the land to be utilized fell under their jurisdiction. USACE was then pressured to vote against the completion of the pipeline due to "environmental concerns".

Huh?




Time Saving Suggestion
By johnwerneken on 11/14/2011 9:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
In politics what matters is policy and group identity ego boo. To save time just ignore not only what they say, but what they do and who pays for them as well. Just look at who SUPPORTS THEM WITH VOTES. Tells you all you need to know. The Democrats have the support of Environmental Activists, Isolationists, Ethnic Politicians, and frightened receivers of rents, like public employees and retirees. If you aren't one of those, don't vote for them. That simple.

I would not vote for a Democrat to save my life.




By highlander2107 on 11/15/2011 2:53:02 AM , Rating: 2
Everything this troll writes bashes Obama. DT, exchanging page views for credibility.




By rdhood on 11/15/2011 10:21:37 AM , Rating: 2
In the past in this forum, I have been accused of having a tin foil hat on. But this shows how untrue it is. It is the goal of the Liberals/Democrats/Greenies to prevent any kind of fossil fuel from being burned... period. No shale oil, no shale natural gas. It is the express purpose of the Liberal fringe and the tree huggers (though not necessarily Democrats) to reverse dams and hydro electric, and to prevent nuclear. When it comes to solar and wind power, just try to fill the desert with solar panels or put up a wind farm anywhere, and see what kind of opposition arises.

In short, the radical left is against any kind of energy development at all.... ever. The only kind of vehicle that they will suffer is EV, that is due to it's horrendous limitations to mobility.

Their goals, if achieved, would cripple the U.S. economy permanently.

THIS is why this president has to go. THIS project would create jobs and go a long way to relieving our dependence on the Middle East. But with feet of clay and with collar and leash firmly in place by the radical left, he can't make an EASY decision FOR the U.S economy, FOR jobs, FOR energy security. His time is done.




Large Scale Fraud
By peterschaeffer on 11/15/2011 1:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
I took a look at the Cornell "report". I don't have enough information to review the accuracy of the entire report. However, I know something about pipelines and red flags went off when I read the following.

"In 2010, pipeline spills and explosions in the US killed 22 people, released more than 170,000 barrels of petroleum, and caused $1 billion dollars in damage."

Sounds bad. However, when you actually check the footnote you find something quite different. All but one (yes one) of the 2010 fatalities were gas pipeline accidents. In other words, the Cornell authors are essentially lying by using gas pipeline accident statistics to make the XL pipeline look "dangerous".

The Cornell authors also cherry picked the data. The 5 year average liquid pipeline fatality rate is 2 per year. Average property damage is $213 million per year and average barrels lost (many spilled barrels are recovered) are 70,000 per year.

That's a leakage rate of 0.001%.

To put this in perspective, some 8 million barrels of used motor oil gets dumped into our rivers and streams each year. It's a very serious problem. By contrast, pipeline leaks cause less than 1% as much pollution.




By bigdawg1988 on 11/16/2011 9:25:40 AM , Rating: 2
I'm really hoping there is some underlying reason for this that hasn't been made public yet. I don't really trust the oil companies, and I don't see why would Obama delay it for the votes since those people are going to vote for him anyway.
He better have a damn good reason for this, like more studies needed or something.
Don't screw it up bruh!




WTF Jason?!?
By estarkey7 on 11/14/2011 1:34:52 PM , Rating: 1
I have an announcement. I thought this was a technology site? Why are we talking about stuff that has nothing to due with technology. I have a liberal stance, but I didn't come to this site to hear all this political bullshit. I came here to read about technology.

Jason, my advise to you is that when you wake up in the morning and your pecker points to the left or the right, if you got the urge to write about it, stick that shit up on Yahoo somewhere. You make money off this site by ads from sponsors. Stick to the tech stuff and keep it that way. I don't want to hear this cock fighting left/right red/blue bullshit when all I want is good sound factual reporting on technology regardless of political persuasion .

If I wanted to hear some opinionated thesis on the destruction of America by a transgender bisexual hermaphrodite Aryan Nation Grand Wizard environmentalist save the spotted emu tree hugger, I'll turn on Fox news and MSNBC at the same fuckin time!

Time for me to find a new source for technology. And I think I'm going to complain to anandtech about why the hell he even has such a prominent link to this crap on his website.





I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By quiksilvr on 11/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By aspade on 11/11/2011 6:11:26 PM , Rating: 5
If it were "cheaper and quicker" to "just build a new refinery closer to Canada" then why didn't any of the businessmen and investors putting real money into this project think of that?

Money talks, bull---t walks.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By Samus on 11/11/2011 6:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If it were "cheaper and quicker" to "just build a new refinery closer to Canada" then why didn't any of the businessmen and investors putting real money into this project think of that?


Because the interested parties want to use their EXISTING refineries in the states that heavily subsidizes oil processing, in this case, Texas.

Indiana is a natural middle-ground as Gary and Hammond have underutilized refineries, but the people pushing for the pipeline don't own those refineries (obviously.)


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/11/2011 7:01:14 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Because the interested parties want to use their EXISTING refineries in the states that heavily subsidizes oil processing, in this case, Texas.

Indiana is a natural middle-ground as Gary and Hammond have underutilized refineries, but the people pushing for the pipeline don't own those refineries (obviously.)

Okay that's fair perhaps, but that's not what anyone is suggesting here. They're arguing pipe or no pipe.

TransCanada who controls the production wants to build the pipeline to Texas. How do you expect to force a business to change from piping to Texas to piping to Indiana?

Further the numbers don't give a whole lot of support to your idea....
Indiana only has ~426,000 barrels/day worth of refining capacity (two refineries, one very large one that's pretty small):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_refinerie...

Texas has many times that:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_refinerie...

Without claiming to know intimate details of utilization % on a per refinery basis (which I'm guessing you and I both don't know), I'd say Texas looks like the more financially rewarding place to send pipe.


By Mueller on 11/14/2011 12:48:11 PM , Rating: 3
A refinery is basically a giant distillery. Refineries are built around the types of crude oil they can process. The dirtier the crude(a relative term) the more processes a refinery needs to process it.
Texas has both the capacity and processes to handle the Alberta crude.


By Mueller on 11/14/2011 12:31:28 PM , Rating: 2
If you think a pipeline is expensive a refinery dwarfs it in terms of money spent. Not to mention the environmental hoops.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By KCjoker on 11/11/2011 6:17:15 PM , Rating: 5
Good luck getting a refinery built with the eco loons out there that will block it.


By FITCamaro on 11/11/2011 7:42:01 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah a company tried to build a refinery in Minnesota, South Dakota, or North Dakota several years ago. The people of the area it was going to be built in OKed it (some opposed the but majority supported). But then environmental groups came in and "on the people's behalf" sued the plan out of existence.

Thanks a lot Supreme Court that said environmental groups can sue on "the people's behalf".


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By stm1185 on 11/11/2011 6:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
His decision was to wait until after the election so he does not piss off the Unions who back him by not approving it, or piss of the environmentalists who back him by approving it.

Which tells me that he was going to say yes and have the pipeline built. Because the unions won't support a Republican no matter what. While if Obama pushed this through he would almost certainly lose votes from environmentalists sitting out the election or pointlessly voting for some fringe candidate.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By jimbojimbo on 11/11/2011 11:46:52 PM , Rating: 5
This is like his history of voting present on everything. He's so worried about getting people's votes he'd rather not do anything. That's a great trait in a leader.


By Dorkyman on 11/13/2011 6:44:29 PM , Rating: 3
The man is a disaster. I look to Hillary challenging him in the spring.

I also would not be too surprised to see the Chinese offer to build a pipeline to Vancouver in order to supply their rapidly-growing economy. It would make Americans look like fools for voting in such an inexperienced ideologue.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/11/2011 6:24:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But I stand by his decision. Oil sands not only give out more toxic emissions, the energy required to extract refined oil vs energy gained isn't high enough to spend billions on a 2000 mile pipeline. It literally would be cheaper (and quicker) to just build a refinery closer to the Canadian border.

Oh brother.

First off the pipeline is not 2,000 miles, it's 1,700. 300 miles gets you almost from San Diego to Las Vegas, so that's a pretty big roundup.

Second nobody -- not even environmentalists -- have suggested that the pipe would emit toxic gases. Greenhouse emissions are hardly toxic or we'd be all dead by now. If you're referring to warming, I'm sure some readers here could offer you some pertinent commentary.

As for quicker and cheaper, most U.S. refineries have a capacity of around 70k barrels per day:
http://www.argusleader.com/article/20070712/VOICES...

Mega-refineries of 300k or 400k barrels are extremely expensive and seldom seen outside the Middle East.

And as the above link shows, local states are trying to do exactly what you suggest, but it still requires a lot of pipeline build out to get to the U.S.

It's really not quicker OR cheaper to cut the pipeline by 1,000 miles, but have to build 10 new refineries...


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By Samus on 11/11/11, Rating: -1
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/11/2011 6:49:03 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Jason, keep your political views out of your articles. It's simply bad journalism.

I did. The fact of the matter is if you read the press releases most of the anti-pipe agencies were criticizing Obama for punting, while the press releases from the pro-pipe parties were criticizing him FOR punting.

I'm sorry if you don't like the facts but they are what they are.

I tried to present a balanced analysis of both sides' arguments and some of the factors that played into the delay (e.g. the robocalling scandal and the TransCanada business relationship). I'd hardly call it a glowing endorsement of the pipeline deal, more an observation on the general sentiment from all sides, regardless of my personal feelings (which I present in the comments section).

And I'm allowed to have an editorial opinion in my comments even on straight news. Nobody is confusing my comments for journalism (I hope).


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By jjmcubed on 11/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/11/2011 7:05:46 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Nine out of ten times I don't agree with the Mick bashing(or I just cut him more slack than the average bear), but your statement is correct.

Well, thanks (I guess?) for your past support, but the fact of the matter is that the question is simple:
Did I state the facts or didn't I?

Please read the linked press releases before you leave this kind of comment.

The press releases from both pro- and anti-pipe folks level varying degrees of criticism against Obama, but they're virtually all critical, hence my tag line. Am I "being political" for quoting the opinions of a diverse set of parties who ostensibly have very different political leanings but are united in their criticism here (for different reasons)?

Be honest, did you read the linked press releases?


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By Ringold on 11/11/2011 8:45:00 PM , Rating: 3
You're right on this one. Another fact that can't be underplayed: If Canada can't export it to the United States, it will happily send that oil right across the Pacific to the Chinese. This is not my idle postulation, but the stated intention of Canadian oil firms and the government. They'd prefer to send it to their friendly neighbor, but money is money.

Therefore, the choice America faces is if we want the jobs and economic benefits that come from cheaper energy sourced from extremely stable nations, or do we want to expand China's access to energy in our own back yard?

Obama chose delay, which amounts to ignoring America's wider best interests in favor of his re-election interests. Is this the change Democrats voted for? We get the government that we deserve.


By Nfarce on 11/12/2011 2:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
And I'll throw in another fact most people who whine about our dependency on Middle East oil don't know behind their emotions: we import more oil from Canada that we do from ALL of the Middle East. But don't ever let a good "war for oil" rant get in the way of a bed wetter.

http://38.96.246.204/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_pu...


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By jjmcubed on 11/12/2011 3:29:44 PM , Rating: 1
Nope. Didn't read any of it. Mine was a general statement about political views in Daily Tech articles. Wasn't meant to be a shot at you at all.


By harshbarj on 11/14/2011 1:53:35 AM , Rating: 2
Without reading the link, how did you come to the conclusion that Jason was injecting his political views into the story? By agreeing with Samus that is the equivalent of saying it yourself.

As a resident of Nebraska I can tell you I have been paying close attention to the pipeline and Jason nailed it with this story. I myself am for it and am not happy one bit with Obama (sad as I really like him overall). I also know many who are against the pipe and again, they are not happy because the pipe was not killed.

So before you accuse someone of injecting their political views into a story perhaps you should make sure you know WHAT the story is.


By Shadowmaster625 on 11/14/2011 11:10:13 AM , Rating: 2
The pipeline is going to break at some point. It is going to spill. They always do. This pipeline will be transporting nasty sludge. Look at what they have to do to the sludge just to get it ready for transport. So when it spills it is going to be particularly nasty. And it will spill. Especially once the geniuses in washington start a war with iran and all our infrastructure here comes under guerilla attacks.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By MrTeal on 11/11/2011 6:26:46 PM , Rating: 2
The article is misleading, the pipeline wouldn't be transporting a sluice of tar and sand. The sands are mined and processed on location or nearby (relatively), and a synthetic crude is made. It's the synthetic crude oil that's sent down the pipeline to be refined into diesel, gasoline, etc down in the south.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By rcc on 11/11/2011 7:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
Not exactly synthetic. Perhaps extracted would be more accurate.


By MrTeal on 11/11/2011 7:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
It's not exactly synthetic, but that is the name that is used for this exact product. There's a reason why the largest tar sands company is called Syncrude.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_crude


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By ct760ster on 11/11/2011 9:58:40 PM , Rating: 1
The truth is pollution generated is too much and undesirable for a refinery in a higher latitude location. Colder climate is like a magnet for pollutants.


By Dorkyman on 11/13/2011 6:48:09 PM , Rating: 2
I see your point but read the other comments.

The oil is going to be developed whether we build the pipe or not. It will either go to us or to the Chinese. Our path is somewhat cheaper, but the oil WILL be extracted.


By Mueller on 11/14/2011 12:35:45 PM , Rating: 2
Due to the different environments over the course of a year, it's much cheaper to design for a warmer climate. In the northern lattitudes the alloys for the steel are different to allow for the colder temperatures.
Cold makes it easier to clean up, once it freezes.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/12/2011 2:28:36 AM , Rating: 5
Whatever, you're absolutely clueless. It's not the job of the President to preside in these matters. Private companies want to put up billions in a venture to create jobs and expand a badly needed resource. Who are you to armchair quarterback this like some kind of expert?

quote:
It literally would be cheaper (and quicker) to just build a refinery closer to the Canadian border.


There hasn't been a refinery built in like 20 years. Easier? It's a freaking act of Congress to get one built! Your statement is purely hypothetical fiction. Our energy policy is so ridiculous that you're wrong. It actually IS cheaper and easier to run a pipe gillions of miles than to try and get a refinery built.

People are willing to put up their own money to get this done. If it wasn't worth it, why would they do that? TransCanada already bought over a billion dollars in steel pipe for the project! I think they know a bit more about it than you if they're that committed. Also didn't you miss the part where the actual sand removal is done in Canada? This pipeline doesn't add to any environmental impact. They're extracting the oil, they just need it to be refined!

Once more the Democrats and Liberals prove their "progressive" energy policy is simply to have no energy.

So China gets more oil from North America that we need while our gas prices stay high. Brilliant decision here Barry. Not that it comes as any surprise given your obvious disdain for petroleum regardless of the market, how many jobs are on the line, or the needs of the population.

I don't know why I'm bothering on specifics though. I knew I was talking to a moron the minute you said you "stood" by Obama. That's a dumb move on ANY issue. The man has literally not had a real job in his entire life. It's no wonder he can't create any and then makes decisions like this.


By kattanna on 11/14/2011 11:36:38 AM , Rating: 3
one thing i see lacking from all is that just how silly the environmentalists are on this issue.

the tar sands will be processed.. thats a given. but if you deny a pipeline from being built, then it has to be transported via rail/truck and ship.. all of which have FAR more environmental impacts.

so, once again, the environmentalists are damaging not only the economy, but the environment they profess to care about so much.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By Captain Orgazmo on 11/12/2011 2:36:03 PM , Rating: 4
"Oil sands not only give out more toxic emissions"
Cite your source, idiot.

"the energy required to extract refined oil vs energy gained isn't high enough to spend billions on a 2000 mile pipeline"
This doesn't make sense scientifically, logically, or even linguistically.

"It literally would be cheaper (and quicker) to just build a refinery closer to the Canadian border."
Wow, you are retarded. Do you have any idea how much it would cost, and the energy required to build enough new refining capacity to properly utilize oilsands output? The whole point of the pipeline is to use existing underutilized refining capacity on the US gulf coast.

I work in the oil & gas sector in Alberta, what are you, an armchair enviro-economist? You probably have no problems with getting your oil from the same type of bituminous deposits in autocratic Venezuela, and then have them dangerously shipped over the Gulf of Mexico, so you can sit in front of your computer and make stupid generalizations. Don't forget where the plastic that comprises your computer, car, clothing, and other household goods comes from. Or where the fertilizer that allows you to eat is extracted. Or who freezes their ass off working 15 hour days, 25 days a month, to deliver you the vastly under-appreciated fuel that our way of life ENTIRELY DEPENDS ON.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By knutjb on 11/14/2011 1:03:43 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing like delusional environmentalist who sit in their warm houses typing out half truths. There is no solar cure as Solyndra has shown. Yes I would like something cleaner but it doesn't exist at this time.

As for the pipeline they have been trying to get a refinery in South Dakota for this oil to ensure a stable fuel supply for farmers at harvest time. They frequently have to truck in a large quantity of fuel so you can eat. But the perpetual scaremongers imply you, and everyone else too, will directly harmed by such a venture, no matter how careful we are. So lets just ship it all to China where all will be just spotlessly clean.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By texbrazos on 11/14/2011 6:58:13 PM , Rating: 2
First off, solar works well for lot's of people. Solar power works, and would work well if the majority of Americans had good panels installed properly. Just because a few companies in the solar sector screw up does not mean it is bad. If you want to go that route, there are more than a fair share of oil and gas companies that are screwing us right now, as well as those like Enron.
"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. what a source of power. I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
Thomas Edison 1931


By Skywalker123 on 11/15/2011 10:47:28 PM , Rating: 2
Edison? Wasn't he the guy who electrocuted an elephant (among various other animals) to prove that Alternating Current was too dangerous to use?


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By blankslate on 11/16/2011 3:37:22 PM , Rating: 2
Here is a source that suggests that developing the Tar Sands does have a set of repercussions that are serious enough to warrant concern.

http://www.pnas.org/content/107/37/16178.full

"Oil sands development contributes elements toxic at low concentrations to the Athabasca River and its tributaries"

According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor the extra processing that goes into making the oil extracted from Tar sands suitable for use in current refineries as adds about 24 dollars to the cost of a barrel as of 2006

"However it's extracted, all bitumen has to be transformed into oil in a process called upgrading. There are several different steps in upgrading, all of them using a lot of energy, usually natural gas. Itcosts $23 to $26 a barrel - depending on the project - to produce light oil from sticky goo of the oil sands."

link is here http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0512/p04s01-woam.htm...

Seeing as how the article is 5 years old it can be guessed that the cost would come down by now. However the additional costs of making sure extra pollutants from extracting the usable oil from the bitumen are contained may make up for the reduction in costs of the main processes.

You're right in that we are not looking at a comprehensive long term energy solution. At least most of American citizens aren't.

I think that the article in the December 16th 2007 issue of Scientific American detailed a plan for moving to a mostly Solar means of producing energy by 2050 is a very good read that isn't clouded by alarmist rantings.

If I recall correctly, it's been a few years since I read the article The plan incorporated other sources of energy that included nuclear, natural gas and a few others as intermediate sources as a transition solar power.

Of course no one in public office thinks on that long of timeline anymore so we're basically stuck...


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By Captain Orgazmo on 11/16/2011 8:10:52 PM , Rating: 2
Good reply. The article you mention has been disputed by, among others, Alberta's own version of the EPA, the ERCB (actually a department who keeps an eye on the energy sector specifically, due to its importance to our province). Also, the main author, David Schindler, is an American, with a background in zoology, and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. He is naturally biased against the type of massive projects that oilsands development requires, and like all scientists going after grant money, is more inclinded to find problems and crises that warrant further research (and extra funding, of course).

Numerous other studies over the years have found no added pollution in the waterways caused by the mining or upgrading operations. There are numerous natural oil seeps into the rivers of the area -- the local natives used to use the seeping bitumen exposed by river erosion as waterproofing. Also, the most recent, and biggest developments, use 100% recycled water for extraction and upgrading, and produce no effluent. In addition, a Utah company has discovered a method, using natural citrus solvent I believe, that will totally eliminate the need for massive tailings ponds (an eyesore, and PR boon for environmental propagandists).

You mention the added costs of converting bitumen to light crude. This still holds true, and something like a third of natural gas production in the province currently goes towards heating water to produce the steam needed for SAGD, CSS, and other steam assisted recovery techniques, as well as heating needed for upgrading and refining. This is troubling, and nuclear plants would help solve the problem (at least in the static facilities, as fission plants produce steam primarily -- this could be used directly without the need for electrical generation), however rabid, irrational environmentalists, ignorant NIMBYs, and cowardly politicians have prevented this solution from coming to fruition.

Oil and natural gas are still very abundant resources, but I am totally for the pursuit of new energy sources. We should be saving our hydrocarbons for better uses like plastics and other petroleum based products. Sadly, our democratic systems prevent any real long-term planning, and private investors naturally don't like to bet on companies who's success is based on technology that has yet to be invented. I would advocate investing government oil & gas revenues on research towards fusion or other technology that would pay back great dividends when hydrocarbons are no longer economically suitable for energy uses, but instead our government squanders the money on a bloated public sector and its greedy unions.


RE: I don't always see eye-to-eye on Obama...
By blankslate on 11/16/2011 11:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
I'll have to look into the concerns that you bring up over David Schindler.
I'll do more research in regards to that matter and read the studies that reported that proper extraction of oil from bitumen doesn't increase pollution in water.

As far as nuclear goes there are unanswered concerns about the use of it as a source of power.
For example as far as I know fully insuring new nuclear power plants are expensive enough that private insurance companies would not be willing to accept the risks and the burden for insurance would have to fall on a government agency.
Another concern is the fact that extracting and processing does cost resources and those costs may go up as uranium reserves are depleted.
Reactors that use thorium as a fuel may mitigate those concerns however.

I do suggest that you read the Scientific American article I referenced that outlined a multi-decade plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels while maximizing the use of Solar Energy when ever possible.

The article doesn't suggest that fossil fuels would be done away with completely but used for niche purposes where their advantages outweigh the advantages of using energy produced through other sources. Nuclear energy is also mentioned as a nearer term solution that can be used until solar energy technology becomes efficient and cost effective enough to be used much more widely than it is today.

What I liked about it when I read it is that it struck me as taking a realistic long view when it comes to suggesting a viable way to transition to energy sources that have less chances of being the sources of catastrophic accidents.

I agree that unfortunately our representatives in government do not plan or make decisions with long term planning in mind.

However, I disagree that public sector unions are particularly worthy of being singled out for blame when it can be pointed out that the private sector can be shown to have enough of their own greedy bad actors. It is a debate for another time though.


By Captain Orgazmo on 11/17/2011 8:30:01 PM , Rating: 2
The reason that the bitumen extraction and upgrading cannot possibly cause waterway pollution is because they recycle the water used in the plants. There is literally no effluent outflow into rivers like in stereotypical old fashioned industrial estates. The newest projects don't even need tailings ponds (large dugouts lined with multiple layers of non-permeable membranes, or even concrete).

It infuriates me when people complain about our (Canadian) industry practices, with sensationalist media coverage as their only source of knowledge on the subject. Nobody mentions how for example, in the Persian Gulf, if a well produced less than 2000bbl/day, they'd just let it flow into the water. Or how in Nigeria, BP seriously contaminated whole river deltas through sheer laziness, with the government turning a blind eye, starving local populations of the fish depend on to live.

I will try to find the article you mention, sounds interesting. Solar power has obvious promise, it just needs a bit more development to really become practical. China has the clear upper hand in such developments and cheaper manufacturing, due to their lack of concern for the environment and workers, and their national-socialist style of government that can sink billions without an electorate to worry about.

As far as the public sector unions I am talking about, it is a problem Americans have only just begun to get a taste of. For example, Alberta has a population of about 3.7 million, and a provincial budget of $38 billion! 50% goes towards our public-funded healthcare monopoly, with wages, pensions, and benefits consuming 75% of the health budget. Not only that, they get yearly wage increases of about 6% (double the private sector average), and indexed pensions. Before massive government reforms in the early 90's, Crown Corporations ran all sorts of things like telephone and utilities, and even liquor stores! Two of my uncles who worked for the government and have been retired 10 years currently make more money from their public-funded pensions than I do, and I work in the "greedy" oil patch! That is clearly not sustainable. Norway, similar to Alberta in size, population, and oil-production, has managed to save a whopping $500 billion in the same amount of time that we have saved a measly $14 billion. America would be well advised to prevent the "bureaucracy from expanding to accommodate the expanding bureaucracy."


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