Saturday, February 18, 2012

About that Keystone XL pipeline....

I know that I usually fill up my allotted space with the mocking of liberals, and I usually try to keep things rather light-hearted. However, this time I'm going to study something that happened a little while ago but is still finding itself in the news. The issue is the Keystone XL pipeline, and the resultant furor that has come from it.

On February 15th, my state-wide daily newspaper ran an opinion piece by one Kathy Purnell that asked many questions about the Keystone XL pipeline that she thought were rather important. As always, I will run the column as it was originally printed, with nothing cut out. The author's original letter runs in socialist red, and my remarks will run in cool blue.

Guest writer:
Not our problem
No sense in cleaning Canada oil
Monday, February 13, 2012
LITTLE ROCK — The more I think about the Keystone XL pipeline, the more questions I have. Here are some of them:

According to U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the oil that would flow down the pipeline is the dirtiest oil on the planet.

Irrelevant. Would it matter more if it was the cleanest oil on the planet? I don't think so. So why does it matter how dirty the oil is?

Furthermore, as dirty as the oil may be, it is still much cleaner than coal to use. If the author thinks that this dirty oil shouldn't be used, should we also use coal and other dirty sources of energy? Why or why not?

Does it make economic sense for us in the U.S. to be the ones to clean up that Canadian oil? Can’t that oil be refined in Canada where it is produced, at no potential harm to the U.S.? Are we perhaps playing the role of sucker again in international affairs by being willing to let another country export its problems onto our soil? Isn’t it a legitimate function of the State Department to see to it that other countries don’t just dump their problems on us to solve?

Wrong assumptions all around. The oil doesn't belong to the country of Canada. The oil will be pumped by one company, TransCanada. The government of Canada has absolutely nothing to do with this pipeline other than to approve the use of it.

The second question is a rather good one, in that why should TransCanada want us to refine oil? I don't know the definitive answer to that, but my guess is that we are the best at refining oil. And doesn't the notion that "somebody else should do it" sound childish to you?

As for the international affairs, here is a great take-down of that little meme.

And aren't we supposed to be friends with everybody now that Bush is no longer in office?

And finally, whether we approve the pipeline or not, the oil will still be refined.

Even if we do want to be Canada’s rescuer in finding a market for its dirty oil, couldn’t we at least refine it someplace closer to Canada to avoid having to transport it across such a large expanse of our country? Every mile of pipeline is another mile susceptible to leaks. And every mile costs more money to build, use and maintain. Does it even make economic sense to transport it all the way?

Sure hope you don't drive around in your car, Ms. Purnell. Otherwise, you might be susceptible to accidents.
Hope you don't cross any streets on foot, Ms. Purnell. Otherwise, you might be run over by an automobile or truck or bus.
Hope you don't stay at home, Ms. Purnell. A substantial number of deaths occur at home.

I’m no tree-hugger,

Whenever a sentence starts off with this kind of claim, you can lay money down that the opposite is true.

but I do think it’s our responsibility to protect the natural resources that we have left in this nation. I have read that Sen. Mark Pryor thinks technology will protect the environment if this pipeline is built. Haven’t we yet learned that technology can’t solve all our problems? There is always the human factor in putting that technology to work. It was technological mistakes and human error that caused the Gulf oil spill.

I can't disagree with anything here.

Do we really want to take a chance on something catastrophic like that happening to the drinking-water supply for millions of our own citizens?

But no fear-mongering goes on around here.

There is already one major oil pipeline from Canada reaching down into the heartland of our country. How is it doing? Any leaks?

Well, here's a problem, isn't it? Ms. Purnell knows that there is a major oil pipeline already running from Canada to here, so she must know the answer to her question. So why doesn't Ms. Purnell answer her own question if the answer isn't in the negative? Since the answer obviously isn't in the affirmative (because the she would be pushing that answer in our faces if it was), that kind of shoots down her argument that she posited earlier in this paragraph.


Why not just expand that one if we want to take the oil to the Gulf instead of constructing a whole new one?

And how long will that take? Weeks? Months? Years? What will the environmental impact be in doing that instead of taking it here?

And why choose two cities on the Gulf in Texas as the refiners in the first place? Who are those refiners? To me, this smacks of Big Oil lobbying Congress to get lucrative contracts for the refining job. Perhaps payback for some “favors” from the past?

So who do you suggest?

And what do they plan to do with the oil after they refine it? According to Rep. Markey, they plan to export it to other countries. Little if any will go toward reducing our own country’s dependence on foreign oil for our domestic uses.

I wasn't aware there was a pipeline running from Houston to Beijing.

I also want to comment on Welspun’s statement that it might have to lay off some Arkansans if the pipeline isn’t built.
I appreciate our congressional delegation looking out for the interests of Arkansans. However, Welspun’s choice to go ahead and build pipe before it had a firm contract was its own business decision. Not all business decisions work out as planned.
Isn’t this outcry against the possibility of losing 60 Arkansas jobs just another result of lobbying by big companies and industries and their unions to protect their special interests? And Welspun isn’t even a U.S. company. Why are we willing to make its problem our problem?

So protecting special interests are bad? I guess the author is also against unions, then, right?

Many have questioned President Barack Obama’s choosing to not make a final decision on this matter until 2013, after the presidential election. Actually, delaying that decision sounds like a good idea to me: Get the election-year politics out of it, and get into the facts of the matter instead. Get beyond the hysteria of people shouting “Jobs! Jobs at any cost! Jobs!” and get into taking some constructive steps in resolving the matter.

Yeah, let's not worry about jobs. We've got too many now as it is. We don't need any more!

This project was first proposed back in 2008.

Kind of. (Clarification: The original pipeline was proposed in 2005, the XL extension in 2008. So Ms. Purnell is right about the extension. But since the original pipeline ends at the Canadian-American border with no refinery there, it's kind of hard to imagine any other way for that to end.)

I have to wonder why it is becoming an issue just now. I wonder who is behind its resurgence; I can only guess at it, and none of my guesses are pretty.
Canada is still willing to proceed on pursuing the pipeline now after all these years. It’ll likely still be willing in 2013. I don’t think we have to worry about it giving its business to the Chinese instead of us if we decide we want it.

Well, aren't we supposed to be on good terms with the world now that Bush is gone from office? Shouldn't we not treat them in such a high-handed and arrogant manner? Aren't we taking their good will for granted if we take such a position? I think so.

It has been stated emphatically by several sources that there is no tax money involved in this project, that it is all to be done with private money. I have a hard time believing that. Have you ever known of a project of this magnitude that didn’t end up involving taxpayer dollars? Do we really want to spend more of our tax money on attempts to advance the use of oil?

Well, as has been pointed out, it's one company doing the whole thing by itself. So, outside of any new regulation, there shouldn't be any taxpayer dollars being used at all.

The world is running out of oil. That is a well-known fact now. So why are we whipping a dead horse in trying to squeeze the very last drop of it out of the Earth, when we could be using our money and brains to develop sustainable sources of energy instead?

And how has that worked out so far?

We need a reality check here, to take a good look at what we are doing and decide that it is time to change course in our quest to provide for the energy needs of our people. No single industry lasts forever. The oil industry is no exception. It’s a dying industry. So let it go and move on.
I encourage readers to consider their stance on this important matter very carefully.

Yeah, let's throw away our oil-powered cars and go right to those wind-powered vehicles. Which I'll park right in my geothermal-powered house and start writing columns on my solar-powered computer.

Oh right! None of that exists yet! I knew there was a small flaw in that plan.

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