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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, Feb 19, 2014.
It's is sad that Halliburton, et al, don't want us to refine and ship our own finished product to market.
And our government is in lock-step with their wishes.
It's pretty sad really. All this talk over jobs and we ship away one natural resource after another - in their raw form. Foreign ships sit off Alaska to collect and process raw logs harvested from US national forests. The only job Americans get in the trade is from cutting them down.
I know little about any of this, but I've been hearing ......
Keystone will affect railroad jobs
Would affect climate change for the worst
Is a threat to the environment, based on history from other pipelines.
Companies are not really invested in Keystone.
Very few jobs will remain permanent after the project is finished.
If any of this is actually true, screw Keystone.
So not a good source of new jobs, just a temp fix. I think it was Nebraska that changed their imminent domain laws so they could run this pipeline through farmer's property. By the sounds of it, none of those people are happy. The philosopher environmentalist in me says the sooner we ween ourselves off of fossil fuels the better, so I'm not a proponent of keystone,
Among the myriad things that irk me about the Keystone XL pipeline extension is that the taxpayer is on the hook for emergency funds for cleanup of spills because Trans Canada doesn't have to kick into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Per a 2011 IRS ruling, Congress didn't mean to include anything but conventional oil in the 8c/barrel tax for the trust fund, and the Trans Canada product is tar sands crude or diluted bitumen, so it's exempt. If this is not the case any more, I'd sure like to know that, but I believe it's still exempt. Unbelievable. Or maybe perfectly believable, considering the track record of Congress vis-à-vis Big Oil.
In a piece "Toxic and Tax Exempt" of April 2013, Oil Change International included a link to an earlier document that discussed the ruling.
Below is an excerpt from that document (with link for the PDF immediately below)
By externalizing these costs, tar sands oil will also be cheaper, making it more competitive vs less risky options.
Yeah I might go down to Washington on April 27th after all and march to the White House against Keystone XL. I was thinking it's hopeless, Obama is going to approve the pipeline extension no matter who says what against it any more, but I don't know that. Probably even Obama doesn't know it yet. Politically it's a tough call to make either way. We'll see which set of corporate money has ended up talking the loudest to him. I say that because I realize there's corporate money -- well a whole lot of foundations' money-- that has been lined up AGAINST the pipeline too, not just in favor of it. But it's hard to imagine that just environmental considerations will figure in the decision, especially since it has international ramifications. It's been awhile since US and Canada traded shots across a fenceline.
Still, if everyone thought policy reversals were impossible, we'd be singing God Save the Queen even now in the USA. I don't want to be part of one of those "imagine if they gave a bake sale and no one came" scenarios. I want to show up to put my feet where my letters have been. Two million people put up comments against the damn pipeline extension but you can bet they're not all going to slog down to Washington DC at the end of April. I feel like I should go. I don't want to feel like I'm in U2's Acrobat track, "talk like this, walk like that". I don't want to be that; it's not me. I want to keep showing up until the decision gets made. I just hope it's not going to be really hot in DC that weekend. Definitely toting along some extra water if I go.
Update: There has been a date change for the DC activty: The date and time for the big Reject and Protect action is now Saturday April 26th at 11 AM, meeting on the National Mall between 7th and 9th Streets. The date was moved because of a permitting conflict that the Parks Department failed to notify the organizers of until this week (almost end of March). The Parks Department apparently forgot about a half-marathon race happening on the same day.
See the big picture: While America Spars Over Keystone XL, A Vast Network Of Pipelines Is Quietly Being Approved Mar 20, 2014.
I'm torn between new energy and kicking the fossil fuel habit... These days I tend to be anti-pipeline becuase it provides less incentive to go with alternative fuels.
The company line for a number of these ventures appears to be "we're not ready for a society completely run on alternative fuels" and deem this type of operation necessary in the interim. However, I am concerned these types of operations will lead to complacency.
Present US consumption (including refining for export) is around 18 million bbl/day. I keep waiting for somebody to name a source of alternative fuel which will be available in sufficient quantity to replace fossil fuel--or if not all, at least a truly significant percentage.
What substitute is recommended for commercial aviation? For mechanized agribusiness? For ocean freight? For long-haul rail or trucking? For plastics?
I see it as look at all these profits! Of course what would you expect from energy companies? This is their business, no way will they say "no". It would take citizens and a government looking at a bigger picture and the long term impact on the environment, to decide what direction we should be headed. We are doing one heck of a lot of drilling under Obama, at least that is my impression. The "Drill baby drill" crowd has adopted the conservative ethos of cheap energy and big profits for oil companies... at all costs regardless of other considerations, the environment be damned because it's just a commodity to be used up and profited from. So what if we end up living in a toxic toilet, our bank account will be full. Apologies for the hyperbole.
Actually I don't think most of the anti-environment forces really think we are poisoning ourselves. They think it's all liberal conspiracies to rob them of their profits.
Complex problems are rarely solved unless they're broken down to a series of smaller steps. One logical first step (let's call it: step #1) would be to electrify the 36,000 miles of main line railroad in the U.S. that carries about 80% of the total (rail) freight transported within the contiguous 48-states region. 
This alone should save about 185,000 barrels of oil/day, that's currently being used by diesel-electric locomotives that haul freight on that trackage. We have the technology to do this now, and could complete the project within about six years. Once completed, the nation's oil consumption would be reduced by slightly over 1%.
But of course you wouldn't stop there. Once 85% of the nation's freight truck traffic has be diverted to rail, you could save about another 2.3 to 2.4 million barrels/day, which means an overall reduction of the country's total consumption of oil by about 12%.
The next step would be to convert a good percentage of the country's air passengers to (high speed) rail, by operating new HS trains over that same electrified trackage, and thus achieve even further reduction of the consumption of oil.
The only way to for the U.S. to kick it's fossil fuel addiction is to be begin taking the first small steps towards towards sobriety. The first step is admitting that presently, we, as a nation, are powerless over our addiction to oil and admitting to ourselves that this addiction is going to cause life to become unmanageable in the not to distant future, as the world's supply of cheap oil grows smaller and smaller.
 Multiple Birds – One Silver BB: A synergistic set of solutions to multiple issues focused on Electrified Railroads
Thanks for putting up that link. And those are just the big showy lines in the approval queues. There are lots more. There's one that's only 124 miles long called the Constitution Pipeline, I'll write about that a little since its public comment ends April 7th. If approved, it will likely be licensed by FERC to a consortium of companies (led by Williams Partners, Houston). Along many stretches in the New York State segment, their work must largely be scheduled with the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State DEC due to intersection or adjoinment to headwaters of the Delaware and Susquehanna river systems in the northwestern Catskill mountains, and their associated wetlands and edge habitats.
The proposed Constitution Pipeline route comes up from Pennsylvania through the (rural, agricultural) southern tier counties of New York to Schoharie County. There it would connect to two existing pipelines, the Iroquois line and the Tennessee Gas line, supposedly to add to gas that flows to Boston and NYC markets. I say supposedly because it's no secret that some in Congress are agitating for taking assorted restrictions off additional export of US oil and gas products. This of course puts the question to whether "energy independence" figures at all in these pipeline extensions. If it's exported, basically it goes to profit the industry and tidy up our balance of trade. As individuals, we the people just carry the risks associated with extraction, transport and refining.
There are plenty landowners and farmers not thrilled with the Constitution Pipeline project, as you may well imagine. The proposed line goes through many towns as well, not to mention people's wood lots, two state forests and a bunch of organic farms that supply NYC markets with fresh herbs, other produce, specialty cheese, etc.
On the other hand, there are some businesses along the route that are interested in tapping into the line and converting their plants to using natural gas. Installing such taps of course has become one of the pitches made by the touters of the project, and there are already proposed arrangements by local energy product companies to handle deliveries.
Me too. Since I live in the northeast I have to heat my house somehow. In the Catskills in winter, it's likely to be sunny at 8am, cloudy if not snowing until 4pm, sunny for an hour and then dark. So, I am somewhat disadvantaged in use of solar power produced locally. There could already have been more focus on technology for storage of energy from solar and other alternative sources. I think having cheap oil and gas postpones the serious rollout of that tech, not to mention a much needed revision of our national grid. Jacking up production of gas and oil domestically doesn't mean "energy independence." Depending on fossil fuels is dependence, period.
The pressure is not really on us to develop those alternatives. The USSR put Sputnik up and the USA said whoa, time to get real and then we put men on the moon. We didn't do it in five minutes. But we have become a world that now routinely puts sateliltes into orbit. The USA's NASA, practically working on a shoestring, has put a couple ATVs on Mars and has deployed flying smartphones to the edge of the solar system. And we can't build a better flippin' BATTERY to stick in planes, trains, cars, and the guts of my furnace?
While a company has a 30,000 gallon tank of propane on the back lot, why should it worry its shareholders over whether nuclear energy can be produced safely and its byproducts disposed of safely? As far as a national energy policy is concerned, by allowing further and more risky fossil fuel extraction to occur, we are now suppressing the questions about alternatives, never mind looking for answers. The oil and gas industry can effectively squelch debate on nuclear energy by just running a few mushoroom cloud ads. Meanwhile the NIMBYs' vocal antipathy towards wind or nuclear are discouraging much needed further research into how to make those things more efficient, safer, ecofriendlier. Yeah windmills at the horizon of your beachview might be distracting if you're sober enough to notice them, but you'd have to squint. We can make them quieter. We can find a way to help birds dodge them. IF WE DECIDE TO DO IT.
Why are we in the US such pansies any more? We used to take on any job. We (and our friends from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) flew breakfast lunch and dinner -- and coal and god knows what all-- into Berlin for 15 months, remember? Rain, snow or sunshine. Now we whine and say I dunno, can't be done, costs too much, takes too long, get me another beer while you're up. It's just appalling, really. We're committing suicide by reluctance to commit to life on planet earth. It takes hard work!
We'll run out of water before we run out of fossil fuels now that the industry has decided to get the last dollar out of the ground before saying brightly one morning "Hey, we've been thinking... maybe we like the idea of solar too, and we've acquired the following 843 companies that have the knowhow to serve your energy needs in the year 2058, aren't we the bee's knees?!"
How ironic that we let these guys use so much precious water to get the oil out of the ground and into our furnaces. In doing that, we allow carcinogenic pollution of much of what's used, we cannot recover it all and we are risking permanent pollution of groundwater.
This is a larger argument for continued oil production, but it's not a particularly good argument for the Keystone XL project or for tar sands.
The fact that we're using the tar sands should be indicative of a situation that's eventually going to collapse. Tar sands were once deemed too expensive and toxic to harness for energy, and yet the reason we're doing so now is because the price of petroleum products continues to increase.
So, yes, you're right there isn't a one-step replacement for oil, but that doesn't make Keystone a good idea, it illustrates how it's just further dithering and the environmental costs remain heady.
It's unlikely that the aforementioned consumption rate will actually be sustainable.
Another great post. This is the pragmatic attitude that is necessary, but seems to be mostly absent in today's conservative leadership. Is it possible they are in bed with big oil who does not want their decades long welfare to stop?
I'm struck by how far we are willing to go for supply side changes: we must do this extreme thing to our neighbors and ourselves to not have to make changes to our lifestyles. But even a little change on the demand side can have a bigger effect on the supply / demand balance than a new pipeline.
When I was a kid, RWD V8 cars roamed the earth. Then along came CAFE standards and 4s and 6s became important to make and important to buy. Then along came the small truck exemption and the SUV loophole. And RWD V8s were again available, so long as they weighed enough to qualify as a work vehicle. But who cares why, so long as I get to peel out again.
Even the economic incentives are backwards. Extraction of important and finite resources shouldn't be a race to see who can move the most and sell it the fastest. What if instead of seeing conservation and alternatives as threats to oil and gas, there were a way to make oil and gas last longer, preserving our most versatile resource as long as possible?
Yes, we need solutions, but they're not all technical. How we use energy is more complex than what can flow through a pipe.
Around where I live is town after town that grew up on the forest industry. One way to make money that the whole city was built around. But even renewable trees don't grow fast enough to provide enough cutting and processing jobs once the original growth is gone. So the townsfolk get together and look for a new single industry to replace the old single industry they depended on. It's the very singleness that made them vulnerable in the first place, but they can't see the forest for the trees.
Energy needs as many sources as possible, so when one hits a snag, others keep going and the shock is reduced. We don't need a source, we need many sources. Ideally, each would be paired with its most appropriate uses and be as decentralized as possible.
It's a great question. The first thing I'd do is prioritize. Those uses that are 1) most important and 2) most resistant to substitutes, 3) get priority over least important, easiest to change. So if flying is key and jet fuel can only come from oil, we move less important uses like lawn mowers over to something else.
It's not just oversized cars that really have to change in US lifestyles (*) once cheap-energy becomes a thing of the past (yes ONCE, not IF...).
McMansions build in a way that wouldn't be legal for chicken-shacks in other parts of the world requiring massive power for AC and/or heating.
Exotic fruits imported by plane
*non US lifestyles will be affected too, but noone of them includes such massive energy consumption
That brings up another point. Some of the more successful non US countries are looking to emulate us. And it's a fair expectation that chunks of this exported energy will go to feed big cars and houses in other countries.
It would take about 5 earths to support a world all living with our lifestyle. The faster they learn to live like us, the faster they burn up our resources, so the sooner we have to stop. Even as role models, the more we share, the less we will have.
If it only takes five earths to fund a US lifestyle then it takes 2.5 earths to fund a European lifestyle (which isn't so different). Then if we manage to save half the energy off a European lifestyle (which I'm sure you can with relatively little pain) you're down to 1.25 earths which isn't too bad to be honest and something I think we can all live with.
I'm starting to think we could put the 100 top PSRI posters in a room and solve the worlds problems!
Why do alternative fuels have to replace fossil fuels? Can they not supplement them?
Why should we not begin investing more in renewable energy and alternative fuels? It would certainly create jobs - in both manufacturing and research. It could offset any potential oil shortage or panic we may have in the future.
And it doesn't have to come as the expense of oil companies either. I'd love to see the government give tax breaks to the oil and traditional energy companies based solely on how much they invest in alternative and renewable fuels. Heck - make approval of the pipeline contingent on these investments.
So how do you feel about the pipeline- thumbs up, down, one don't care about it specifically because of the complexity of the issue?
This seems a really good approach. To some extent that bottom-up process has already started in the packaging industry. It does make and use more biodegradable non-petrol based cellophane and cellophane-like wrappings now. A persistent problem is that their manufacture may involve undesirable sulfur-based pollutants. However, industry has also become (and has had to become, thanks to regulation) better than it used to be at filtering, trapping, reusing or converting byproducts and emissions.
If we can move on from that to converting softer plastics from petroleum bases then we will hit quite the payload: jars, tubing, cable wraps... Consumers, including industrial consumers, have to ask for it if it's going to happen. Otherwise "ain't broke ain't fixing it" will prevail because changing any manufacturing process costs money, even if it's a fix being made in the interest of a better margin this quarter.
Not sure how to get the consumer or his biz-to-biz counterpart to ask for different plastic in his IV tubing or the PEX plumbing in his house or plant. Plumbing installations are still moving to PEX even now because of its perceived advantages over copper. So trying to get them to move away from it so soon certainly seems an uphill climb.
Can't some stuff that's in plastic jars be packaged in a safer "glass" or a paper derivative, or a cheaper food-grade non-petrol plastic? We have all these amazing chemical compounds at hand today... for stickiness, for strength or breathability in fabrics, for assorted kinds of cardboards. Surely our chemists come up with nonpermeable food containers not made of regular glass or petroleum.
I'm picking on food storage containers first because the consumer is a more likely candidate for causing change there than he is in, say, the composition of industrial glues or fiberoptic cable wrap. And because people have generally liked the idea of non-petrol snack bags when they've become aware of them.
Bottom line if we can envision (if not look forward to) Amazon deploying a drone to put our paperback purchases on the back porch, I don't see why we can't imagine pouring milk or extracting peanut butter from a non-petrol, non-"glass" container. Why not some other kind of tubing for intravenous applications? The problems are perhaps less in the "how" than in motivating people to bother asking "why?"
We never used to stop at "good enough" in our approach to peak industrialization,. so this apparent inertia may be a spinoff of the whole "just in time" approach to modern manufacturing and its underpinnings of profit margin pressure. To to me it's the same as the better-batteries problem: it's not exciting to work on better batteries or milk containers.
How do we make it exciting to keep on breathing air and drinking water? Those are two things that do matter to everyone. In policymaking, it cannot matter that most people don't think about their access to water and air often enough. Every country has the duty to protect its citizens. Protecting them from air and water pollution must be ranked very high.
So how does oil and gas industry manage to put the kibosh on incentives to contribute to national defense against death by thirst or suffocation? I might be able to find a friend who can suggest a chemical compound better than petrol plastic for milk jugs, but where is my other friend, the one who can incentivize industrial production of those jugs? I bet he's not my Senator or Representative, and I bet that's because oil and gas industry still has a bigger voice than my (so far imaginary) friend does in how those representatives approach lawmaking.
I think back for a moment to what prompted me to start this thread. It was a governor of a state who said yeah go ahead put the Keystone Pipeline through my turf. But then it was a judge who said wait up, that's not your job or your turf.
So when I think about policy on energy with respect to defense of air and water, I need to remember that maybe my imaginary friend in government will not at first be from the legislative branch. It's still a lot harder to buy a judge than it is to buy a congressman in this country. I think we have to lean on Congress a lot harder while that's still the case. Meanwhile I'm off to find someone who knows how to make cheap food-grade glass that doesn't break. Maybe Corning can use Gorilla glass derivatives to package peanut butter if Apple's going to try to switch to sapphire for iPhones or other gizmos.