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The Tense Trail Of The Keystone XL Pipeline

We’ll follow the path of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada’s Tar Sands country through the heart of America and hear the furious debate over its fate.

After five years of debate, the US State Department is out with its long-awaited report on the environmental impact of a Keystone XL pipeline – if and when it’s ever built.  Tar sands.  Down from Canada.  The report’s bottom line is not what livid environmental protestors wanted to hear.  Yes, it’s dirty, it says.  Bad.  But one way or another – this pipe or that pipe or train – it’s likely coming.  Environmentalists say that’s “game over” for the climate.  They’re fighting all the way. Writer Tony Horwitz is on the scene.  This hour On Point:  on the embattled would-be trail of the Keystone XL.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Coral Davenport, energy and environment correspondent for the New York Times. (@CoralMDavenport)

Tony Horwitz,  author and journalist. Author of the new book “BOOM: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush That Could Change America Forever.” Also author of “Confederates in the Attic,” “Blue Latitudes,” “Baghdad Without a Map,” “A Voyage Long and Strange” and “Midnight Rising.” (@tonyhorwitz)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Report May Ease Way to Approval of Keystone Pipeline — “The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says.”

U.S. State Department: Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement — “There is existing demand for crude oil—particularly heavy crude oil—at refiners in the Gulf Coast area, but  the ultimate disposition of crude oil that would be  transported by the proposed Project, as well as any  refined products produced from that crude oil, would also be determined by market demand and applicable law.”

The Walrus: Big Mac — “Until recently, Alberta has been slow to release Crown land to the municipality, mostly because it sits on vast reserves of bitumen. Work is finally set to begin on two new suburban developments, each on the scale of Eagle Ridge, which will provide housing for at least 50,000 people. By 2030, Fort McMurray could be a city of almost a quarter million.”

Key Facts And Figures From The Latest State Department EIS

Read An Excerpt From Tony Horwitz’s “BOOM: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush That Could Change America Forever”

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  • AC

    just out of curiosity; if China just starts throwing money at the occupied land and just buys it, will anyone have a voice anymore? it won’t be the first time they’ve thrown money at a problem, how firm are these ranchers in not just taking the money and retiring?

  • Michiganjf

    The last couple of years have seen quite a few pipeline debacles… why in the world is the media claiming that “Obama has run out of reasons to say ‘no’ to Keystone?”

    It seems to me the country has as many reasons AS EVER to say no to Keystone, including the fact that carbon-based energy is now quite cheap, at a time when we REALLY need to get off of carbon altogether!

    • HonestDebate1

      Am I understanding you correctly, do you think cheap energy is a bad thing?

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Fossil fuels are definitely NOT low cost.

        • Ray in VT

          Cheap up front, perhaps, but coal, for instance, gets a lot pricier when one considers environmental and health factors.

      • Don_B1

        @NeilBlanchard:disqus @rayinvt:disqus

        [Dis]HonestDebate1:
        Absolutely cheap energy is a bad thing if/when the energy is cheap because it is subsidized or its negative externalities (and you do know that they are), costs of extracting/using that energy which are paid by people not benefiting from that extraction/use, are not included in the price of that energy.

        In this case the subsidies paid to fossil fuel companies do not affect the market cost, which is set in the world marketplace by the normal rules of (world) supply and demand. So the subsidies do nothing more than give the fossil fuel companies money to pay their executives more and to run more and bigger advertisements and to lobby the government for more special favors.

        Communities downwind of coal plants and refineries are owed $millions to deal with the extra asthma and other diseases that occur with their citizens due to the effects of chemicals from mercury and arsenic and heavy metals that are discharged in the air (and getting into water) from the exhaust stacks, etc.

        The fracking of shale for oil and, particularly, natural gas has many negative external costs, from the contamination of groundwater with drilling fluids and heavy metals as well as natural gas to the release of methane (principal component of natural gas), an even stronger greenhouse gas than natural gas (some 25 times stronger, though lasting a much shorter time)

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      Would getting off of carbon including President Obama and Michelle returning from their Hawaiian vacation ON THE SAME JET rather than travelling back on separate jets? How much carbon do you think that and other similar duplicated flights pump into the environment?

      • hennorama

        Fiscally_Responsible — that’s the best you’ve got? Sheesh.

  • John Cedar

    To borrow from Albert Gore’s 1989 writings, building this pipeline would be an “environmental holocaust”: Because the resulting increase in the carbon in our atmosphere is like trying to eradicate an entire race of people and torturing them and performing medical experiments on them.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/19/opinion/an-ecological-kristallnacht-listen.html

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      Was Al Gore travelling somewhere on a fuel guzzling jet when he wrote that sentence, or was he instead lounging in one of his 20000 sq foot energy guzzling homes?

      • Shag_Wevera

        That’s right, unless Al Gore travels by covered wagon he is a hypocrite.

        • HonestDebate1

          Absolutely, truer words were never spoken…. but hypocrisy doesn’t bother me much.

        • Fiscally_Responsible

          You can excuse his hypocrisy because his “talk” aligns with your left wing viewpoints. But anyone who travels by private jet and lives in the houses and consumes the mega quantities of energy that he and many other Hollywood/other left wingers do and then talks about reducing our carbon footprints are simply hypocrites. Let’s call a spade a spade. At least some of the leadership in certain environmental groups live modest lifestyles from an energy consumption standpoint and demonstrate by their lifestyle that they believe in the cause that they are espousing rather than simply making tons of money off of it.

          • Shag_Wevera

            What exactly do you want from him?

      • hennorama

        Fiscally_Responsible — are you unable to parrot any other silly talking points?

      • harverdphd

        He had just received word his massage therapist had to cancel.

  • HonestDebate1

    An Obama administration analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline application shows the project wouldn’t likely change the amount of oil ultimately removed from Canadian oil sands, suggesting that building the pipeline would have little impact on global climate change.

    The report found that the “approval or denial of any single project is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction of the oil in the oil sands, or the refining of heavy crude on the U.S. gulf coast,” a State Department official told reporters Friday. …

    http://hotair.com/archives/2014/01/31/state-dept-report-yeah-we-cant-really-find-any-climate-objections-to-the-keystone-xl-pipeline-again/

  • Shag_Wevera

    If it would be such an unbelievable cash cow for the US, that info would come out and it would be built. I suspect there are enough doubts so that no such mandate is possible.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      The tobacco companies got rich selling cigarettes. Drug cartels get rich selling drugs.

  • Fredlinskip

    Since the tar sands oil extraction process is one of the most environmentally unfriendly processes known to man (worse than “clean coal” [which there is no such thing]); America is CURRENTLY borderline largest exporter of fuel, natural gas, and oil products; the jobs created will be temporary at best; huge environmental impact on those in the path of mighty line; will be a huge security risk (hard to post security guards on thousand miles of pipeline); will transport fuel to be sent abroad (that is abroad- like not for us); and will have very negligible effect on gas prices here;
    the reason for the pipeline is…..
    a few stock holders????

  • James

    It seems to me that Canada is going to move ahead with this, with or without us. Canada doesn’t need us to refine their oil. And wealth they are creating will dwarf the environmental damage that a pipeline will cause

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      They cannot move very much of the tar sands bitumen without a pipeline. Your logic is spiraling in on itself – if they don’t need the pipeline, then why do they want to build it?

      And you are closing your eyes and making a wish about the lack of environmental damage – it already has ruined a lot of the land that First Nations people depend on. We have had three other pipelines bust already, and tar sands bitumen is very hard to clean up.

      • James

        First off, they don’t need the keystone pipeline specifically.

        Second off the damage that the pipeline needs to be measured against the good it will do.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          It does no good long term. And any short term benefit is not nearly as much as renewable energy.

  • Yar

    In 2006 G.W. Bush said in the State of the Union address, “America is addicted to oil”, well the XL Pipeline is like mainlining Heroin to treat our addiction. There are two separate issues, the cost to our environment of extracting and using the tar sands oil, and the risk of a catastrophic spill. Even if no spill occurs the tar sands may still destroy our economic system. Once our economic system is destroyed all bets are off on protecting the pipeline from intentional destruction. (Imagine America as a lawless, black market economy.) Let’s look at the big picture. Is oil an addiction? In the sense that our economic standing is dependent on ‘cheap energy’, yes. How do we have a meaningful discussion about addiction with addicts? Young folks have deep concern about the long term costs of ‘cheap energy’. Growth comes at costs, we have to change our energy sources, we are using a hundred million years of stored carbon every year, pretty soon it will catch up with us.

    Here is the statement from BUSH: Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

    The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative energy sources. And we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

    So tonight I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.

  • Matt MC

    I get the sense that many environmentalists understand that this issue is one that doesn’t make a whole lot of rational sense, but are benefiting so strongly from the influx of emotionally charged opponents, they just can’t give it up.

    Let me first say that I think we need to heavily and immediately invest in alternative fuels (I would include nuclear power, but this is a separate story); however, unless you are able to somehow prevent Canada from extracting that tar sands oil (which is not in the power of the U.S. government, unless we have sanctions against them, which I think would be roundly opposed by pretty much everyone), then blocking the pipeline will actually result in more carbon pollution, as they will simply ship it on trucks or via train. Even if the pipeline burst at one point or another, I doubt it would have the same impact as a train derailing or a truck overturning, which is far more statistically likely than a regulated pipeline.

    I’m all for alternative energies. We need to invest in them immediately and spend a good percentage of our budget to do so, but I can’t abide knee-jerk, emotional reactions that don’t make sense. Sorry.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Yeah, you’re the only rational person here …

      • Matt MC

        Then critique my argument, but you don’t need to be dismissive. I’m open to critique. Perhaps I’m wrong.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          You accuse everyone who disagrees with you of being emotional – that is not a logical argument. It is simply dismissive.

          • Matt MC

            I’m not saying that everyone who disagrees is being emotional. I’m just saying that on this particular issue, I get the sense that people are letting their emotions cloud their judgment. Again, I invite and encourage your critique.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            So, you are making the only valid rational judgement. No bias there …

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      Actually you nailed it. The good feelings that environmentalists get by thinking that they actually accomplished something outweigh the reality that the oil will be extracted anyway and shipped around via rail or truck, leading to more pollution and disasters such as Lac Magentic.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Tar sands bitumen extraction = Mordor.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard
      • hennorama

        Neil Blanchard — those images of open pits of tar and oil remind me of the images of the oilfield fires and massive intentional spills during the first Gulf War.

        They should be required viewing for anyone unfamiliar with the realities of this type of resource extraction.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          The saddest part is the injection method of extraction is much more energy intensive and has even more environmental problems; even though it doesn’t look as bad from the surface.

          Add the tar sands to fracking and we are trashing the only planet we share with the rest of life.

          You should watch ‘Gasland’ if you have not already.

  • jefe68

    Weather or not the pipeline is built, the tar sands oil will be shipped using rail. Which is how it’s being moved around now.
    90 percent of this oil is shipped via rail.

    • George Potts

      That method of moving the oil uses more energy and increases its carbon footprint.

      • jefe68

        And your point is what? My comment is based on the financial realty here. The oil will be shipped one way or another, period. As it already is.

        Also the irony of your comment is dully noted.

        “Stupid is as stupid does”

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      The term dilbit is diluted bitumen – it cannot be pumped through a pipeline unless it is diluted. And even then it is *very* difficult. We have had three dilbit pipeline failures, and lots of railroad tragedies, too.

      • jefe68

        Again, my point is this oil is going to be shipped regardless of your or my objections.
        The reality of oil and money will trump the environment.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Maybe, maybe not. They have had several train wrecks and massive fires, that have killed many people, and I think that method will be problematic. How else will it get shipped?

          • jefe68

            Right now as we are going back and forth on this there are a few million tons of oil being shipped via rail from Alberta.
            It’s either rail or a pipeline.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Let’s settle on neither.

    • Eric B.

      Yes, but that’s more expensive, and the percentage of the Oil Sands under development now is a fraction of what is planned. If rail remains the biggest transport means, it may slow or reduce the amount of Oil Sands extracted. This possibility alone is worth exploiting by standing firm against Keystone XL.

  • Coastghost

    If Obama’s perceived job performance was enough to unhinge Snowden, what environmentalist righteous indignation could possibly be unleashed with Obama’s approval of the KXL pipeline? What defections could emerge from the bowels of the EPA itself? What levels of sabotage could be perpetrated by disaffected enviromaniacs?

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      I’m sure that Al Sharpton will label any criticism as “racist”.

  • spiral007

    Why is it that Canadian provinces are NOT giving the green light for trans canadian pipelines. Why should it go through US land for exporting this oil!!

    • James

      my understanding is that the Gulf Coast has the capacity to refine the oil. And since it is already built and the US and Canada are close allies and it’s fairly chap to transport oil by pipelien, it makes sense to ship it there. That doesn’t mean that they can’t transport it to the west coast, and then ship it to China (they’ll just make less money off it)

  • George Potts

    Anything that can be done to stop the use of any fossil fuels must be supported by the government.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Build a refinery up north instead of a 1000 mile pipeline. No need to pump sludge to the gulf then pump or rail gasoline 1000 miles back north.

    • Ray in VT

      One problem with that course would be what is downwind of those refineries.

  • George Potts

    There is way too much food grown by farms. Having human beings able to grow to their population needs to be stopped by the government.

  • KF in VT

    It makes me so sad to think of the land that has been/is being confiscated for this fiasco. Land that has been in families for generations – their lifeblood and heritage – stolen for a blight on the landscape that will not give back anything worthwhile to the people of the US. At least we have no doubt about where the product of windmills and solar panels is going. We need to stop barking up this tired old dirty tree.

    • William

      Farmers and ranchers are the biggest welfare queens in this country. What is the “farm bill”…some 963 billion dollars over the next ten years.

      http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43966

      The wind industry demanded and got a 30 year waiver to kill as many birds..especially eagles they want.

      • Lee E

        It’s interesting to look at the data on bird kills caused by human activities. Building windows cause the most deaths (58%), power lines (14%), cats and cars (~8% each). Wind farms well under 1%.
        http://www.lotuslive.org/energy/files/birddeaths.png

        • OnPointComments

          Let’s count the number of golden eagles and other raptors, whooping cranes, and bats that die from feral cat predation and collisions with windows. The answer? Zero. There, that didn’t take long.

          From Jim Wiegand, Vice President USA, Save the Eagles International:

          In a few short years the wind industry will be killing at least a 1000-1500 eagles a year in the United States. This number will include several hundred bald eagles. This species does not fly into windows and they are not being killed by other energy sources. THE WIND INDUSTRY IS KILLING THEM. I just uncovered evidence of a major population decline in the golden eagle population over a several thousand square mile region. This is only the beginning. Eagle populations are being decimated because they can not withstand the wind industry mortality. Today the wind industry is the number one killer of golden eagles in California. Thousands of dead eagles have also gone unreported because this industry has been hiding behind their bogus studies, and agency collusion since the early 1980′s.

          The plight of the Whooping Cranes is a perfect example of this corruption. More than 100 were lost the last year and this endangered species will be gone within 5 years. This is due to the thousands of turbines have recently been stuffed into their flyway. In a few years there will be so many turbines with so much rotor sweep in their habitat, it will be impossible for them to survive. The turnover in the population will be too great as the population loses its breeders. Yet only a few short years ago they were increasing in numbers each year.

          The USFWS is aware of all this, especially in light of their newly adopted USFWS methodology of “estimating” Whooping Crane numbers. The new USFWS methodology was put in place so the declining Whopping Crane population could be exaggerated. Only 192 were counted this year but their population is now being estimated 27% higher at 245.

          But the public has heard nothing of this and you probably never will. The official blame for their demise will be some disease like botulism, bad weather or some other made up tale. When this does happen a lot of hoopla will be made about how the USFWS is going to revive the population from their “contrived” catastrophe. Politicians will step in for the good publicity and plenty of money will be allocated for the production of bogus studies and for the care of these refugees.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Pollution kills many species, and so does climate change. We are already in the 6th great extinction, already.

          • William

            Which makes us wonder why install bird choppers when we have huge amounts of clean natural gas available.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You don’t get it, do you? Fracked natural gas is basically just as bad as coal for climate change.

            How long is the the natural gas going to last? The most optimistic estimate (by far!) is ~100 years?

            Then what?

          • jefe68

            Natural gas is not clean. Where did you get the idea it was?

          • sickofthechit

            Please realize the reason the gas companies spend huge amounts of money advertising how “safe” their production is and how safe their product is is because it is anything but safe for us or the environment. They are using toxic chemicals to loosen the gas and oil from the shale. Chemicals which are mixed with clean water which then has to be disposed of elsewhere (like in Texas) by injecting it deep underground because it is to toxic to clean up. So they may or may not be affecting the underground water in the area they are drilling in IF the concrete plug holds,… Our latest oil boom is no better. In some areas they are simply wastefully burning the methane gas straight into the atmosphere. Carbon based energy production is a mess in its current iteration which is wild wild west all the way. charles a. bowsher

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            If natural gas fracking is clean, then you and I are Martians.

            Watch ‘Gasland’ and see how poisonous it is, for humans and animals and birds and fish.

        • William

          Which seems odd that the wind industry gets a 30 year waiver when we already have a pretty high death rate for birds due to other causes….

  • Yar

    Please define “cheap energy”. I define it as where the consumer doesn’t pay the full cost. So who ends up paying? The poor are the biggest donors to pay for the consumption by the rest of us. They pay with droughts and hunger and storms that wash away their homes.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Renewable energy is MUCH better for local jobs. And they have virtually zero pollution, and they get cleaner over time.

    • Coastghost

      Propellers and rubber bands for all automobiles and trucks, hunh? (Slightly larger blades and marginally thicker bands for propelling trains, naturally.)

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Yeah, they had to wind up the rubber bands in the Tesla Model S’s *really* well to drive them across the US. They drove the trip for free, actually.

      • Don_B1

        No, electric cars driven by electricity from wind turbines and solar collectors (PV and concentrating) as well as geothermal and biofuels. The cost of these sustainable sources of energy is expected to be competitive with fossil fuel costs within five years or less, as long as development is supported over that time.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          And tidal and wave energy, too. Methane from sewage and farm waste is another huge resource.

          We have huge renewable resources – WAY more than we need.

          • Ray in VT

            It’s a matter of having the systems in place to harvest and distribute that energy, as well as storing it so that we can have a reliable form of base-load power. That latter one seems to be the greatest present challenge.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            From what we are learning from places that are switching to renewable energy is that a combination of PV and wind and methane from biomass are a better combination than it first might seem. Wind and solar PV are quite complimentary, and if they are spread out geographically, then they provide a predictable and steady amount of power.

            If we add other renewable sources like tidal and wave power, the picture gets even more steady. Wind power is incredibly consistent when located correctly over a large enough area, and solar almost exactly matches the peak loads.

            Mostly, we need a better grid – but this is already in desperate need of improvement anyway. Storage is great, with pumped hydro, in particular, and we already can do this. But it would be helpful *now* because our baseload from coal and nuclear would be helped by more storage.

            Tidal is happening in places like Scotland and it is just starting in The Bay of Fundy. Obviously, this is incredibly predicable. And wave power, too, is very steady.

        • sickofthechit

          If we rely on cost basis alone for renewables to replace carbon based fuels I am afraid we might be waging a futile war. We instead need to figure out a way to incorporate the very real long term cost of carbon fuel into its price. Then the near impossible task of educating the uninformed and maybe even the purposely ignorant….charles a. bowsher

      • Euphoriologist

        I wasn’t aware the Tesla Model S was powered by rubber bands and propellers. It must be the least-popular, least technically-advanced car ever made!

  • William

    700,000 times 100 dollars a barrel is a lot of money not going to people that want to kill us..i.e. Middle East oil producing nations….

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Renewable energy is much better for the local economy.

      No military needed to defend the sunshine and the wind.

      • William

        But it seems so difficult and affordable to get alternative energy online. The Cape Wind project took some ten years and it’s not cheap affordable energy. The wind industry got a 30 year waiver to kill birds and especially eagles. There are more reports that renewable energy mandates are going to be very expensive and punish the poor. Which seems odd since the wind and sun are free.

        http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/eper_10.htm

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          There was a lot of Koch money funding the Astroturf resistance to Cape Wind. It will be built, and many other projects like it, and we can become *truly* ENERGY INDEPENDENT.

          • William

            I think the people like Ted Kennedy did much to block the Cape Wind project as any other “not in my backyard group”.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            There were/are some strange bedfellows, in this for sure.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Just downloaded the book from BN.com to my Nook HD+. Thanks, Tony for your appearance today, On Point. Hoober Doober

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    A few decades of energy? Gee, what do we do after that?

    We are addicted. Tar sands bitumen PROVES that we have passed peak oil.

    • James

      maybe your $40,000 Electric car prototype will be built and economically viable for the average person by then.

  • Neil

    Anyone who thinks the US would benefit, energy-wise, is fooling themselves…..During a Congressional hearing in 2012, then-Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) asked
    Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s pipeline head if the company would support
    legislation requiring Canadian oil and refined byproducts to be sold
    only in the U.S. “so that this country realizes all of the energy
    security benefits your company and others have promised?” Mr. Poirbaix
    said, “no, I can’t do that.”

    • James

      Oil is sold on an international market, congressmen should know that.

      • J__o__h__n

        The drill baby drill crowd doesn’t mention that.

      • Don_B1

        You can count on the fact that then-Congressman Markey did and does know that! Showing that fact in a dramatic way was the object of asking the question.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    President Hillary Clinton can spend all that “oil wealth” from Keystone XL on pumping fresh water in new pipelines across the breadth of the USA to.. California. To keep it from turning into the Sahara. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

    2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Only idiots try to cheat it.

    Signed.. Registered Professional Electrical Engineer (power and controls)

    * Oil is just going to pass through the US to the Houston ship channel and exported to Canadian oil industry customers.

  • Coastghost

    Just curious: how much environmental degradation is being perpetrated–on our mutual and respective behalfs, mind you–to bring THIS show to us ourselves? Why can’t NPR or WBUR perform a per-show environmental cost benefit analysis for this very hour’s program, or for any hour’s?
    Public radio consumers would benefit grandly from knowing the extent to which their listening habits contribute directly to any share of environmental degradation (or, to put it neutrally, resource consumption).

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Quick, save energy and turn off your radio!

  • sickofthechit

    Keystone is aptly named. Future generations will look at the devastating environmental effects of this and the tar sands development and will lament our decision to go ahead. We are trading the clean air and water of generations upon generations of humans. This is our chance to build a better future, a cleaner future for our world. If we place this “keystone” in the energy arch they are doomed. charles a. bowsher

  • Dab200

    Most of this oil will be EXPORTED ! With the draught in states like California we should be building water pipeline to transfer water from rainy states and ones experiencing floods to the too dry ones. That would be forward looking, with the oil will are once again fighting the previous war.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    I’m going to have to ask the US taxpayer to provide subsidies to the Canadian oil industry. Our little buddies in the north just don’t possess the wherewithal to fund this massive mf by themselves. So, please chip in. Don’t forget; JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!
    –Barack H. Obama {Visionary for the planet Earth}

  • sickofthechit

    We should be building a railway for transporting the oil instead of a pipeline. At least we’d have something when its all done. Anyway, it’s downhill from Canada to the US isn’t it? Look at a globe! charles a. bowsher

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Downhill all the way. Remember what Marilyn Monroe said: Oh, Canada. It’s up in the mountains somewhere.

  • Stephen706

    Unbelieveable that we are really so worried about transporting another country’s oil so our refineries can function and people can work!!!!

    Part of me hopes TransCanada tells the Obama Administration to F-off and just sell and chip it to China so THEY can expand their economy and further worsen impact with shoddier production there–can that is what the wackos are asking!!!!!

    Can we shoot ourselves in the foot anymore???

    • Don_B1

      TransCanada operates the most spill producing pipelines anywhere; talk to the people of Kalamazoo, MI, about the persistence of effects, more than two years after a big spill in the Kalamazoo River!

      The company actually refused to use recent advances in sensors to detect pipe leaks, thus subjecting the pathway of the pipeline to larger spills before detection.

      And the tar-sand oil is the most destructive of any oil being transported today.

      • Stephen706

        Shot happens!!! Got it! But a pipeline will be built, like it or not. So decide, want it built in Canada and go to their coast and we deal with shoddy work and accidents cross border or built it right with our people and our laws and have better control in the outcome. Decide.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    JOBS = POLLUTION. POLLUTION = JOBS. EVERYBODY WINS!
    –The American Organized* Labor Industry

    * The mob was called organized, too. {racketeering}

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Oil is fungible, dude. Look it up.

  • sickofthechit

    The State Department gets the “Pontious Pilate” award.
    Charles A. Bowsher

  • Eric B.

    Much of the export logic rests on economics. It’s been acknowledged that rail is more expensive than a pipeline. Therefore, stopping KXL means less profit margin and that *could* affect how much is extracted – no guarantee. This possibility is why I, as person concerned about climate – am protesting against this pipeline and will attend a candlelight vigil tonight to make my opposition public.

    • warryer

      Burning candles adds more CO2 to the atmosphere.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        If the wax is made from fossil fuels, then yes. But if it is beeswax or some other “new” carbon, then no.

      • Eric B.

        Thank-you for your concern. We will have other ways to light our vigil – and we will make a public stand, which is very important now.

  • coyotejazz

    Does anyone care that this pipeline makes the US even more complicit in the destruction of the North American boreal forest that is the home of hemispheric songbirds? Will anyone care if these species are destroyed? I guess we and our President are the “Destroyers-in-Chief.”

  • William

    Farmers complain about a potential oil spill might damage the water aquifer but they don’t complain about the millions of tons of chemicals farmers dump on their crops that do filter down into the water aquifer right now.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Two wrongs don’t make a right.

      • William

        True, but are the farmers opening the door to more regulations or just bans on chemicals they are using that they might regret later on?

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          The fertilizers and the pesticides are bad, too.

          • William

            Which are produced by a heavy use of oil based products…those farmers that complain really are a odd lot….

      • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

        Nope, but three lefts make a right. {hand turn}

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Crude, glorious crude
    Hot, toxic and crusted
    While we’re in the mood
    Cold deadly black custard.*

    Hoober Doober

    * With apologies to Lionel Bart

    • HonestDebate1

      Please sir, can I have some more?

  • Coastghost

    Kerry need not worry overmuch about rising sea levels: his yacht berth will rise dependably with the tide.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      If Kerry’s crew remember to release the mooring lines.

  • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

    Why are we assuming that the tar sands oil will still be “produced’ whether it is shipped by pipeline or railroad tank cars? Why aren’t we discussing a carbon tax that would push back on this oil, regardless of how it’s transported?

  • Bob Singler

    One more comment: If approved, Obama should get some major concessions from Canada and the oil industry. Such as: improved standards for all type of oil transport, pipelines, rail, oil trucks.

  • DanB

    Why not approve the pipeline, but enact more carbon taxes? Green light the pipeline, but raise the fed gas tax.

    Probably won’t happen that way with things as they are now.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Why not shoot yourself but tax bullets?

    • zachlea

      Yes. Ask Canada to collect a fee on each ton extracted and use the money to purchase carbon offsets to offset the CO2 and other Green House Gases emitted by the production, marketing, and use of the extracted oils. We ask other polluters to clean up their messes. Why not Canada.

  • Win Gasperson

    As a nation we currently export more refined oil than we consume. This pipeline is not for the environment or the consumer. It is to increase profits for the refineries and oil companies.

  • Bob Singler

    Who pays for the pipeline, if built? Will the oil industry pay for it, or will the taxpayers pay for it?

    • hennorama

      Consumers.

    • Flitzy

      Haha, oh you. The oil companies PAY for anything that they’re responsible for?! How quaint.

      • Bob Singler

        Yes, we all may ultimately pay for it, but
        let’s ask the question in a different way: Who will write the checks to pay the workers who construct the pipeline?

  • William

    CO2 emissions in the USA are down so we are doing are part right now. It would be impossible for the USA to tell countries like China, India and other developing nations to get off oil while we enjoy a much better standard of living.

  • George Potts

    Will John Kerry promise not to trade stocks based on his knowledge of the decision that will be made about the XL pipeline?

  • George Potts

    “Carbon pollution” is a lie.

    • lobstahbisque

      You don’t exist.

      • Ray in VT

        Rene Descartes went into his favorite bar and the bar tenderasked, “would you like your usual drink, Monsieur Descartes?” Descartes replied “I think not” and promptly disappeared.

        • 1Brett1

          Exactly! He wasn’t thinking; ergo, he did not exist!

          (BTW, this gets my vote for comment of the day!)

          • Ray in VT

            Thanks, Brett. That one has always amused me, although I can’t remember where I first heard it.

          • 1Brett1

            I liked it enough to repost it on my FB page. I even attributed it to you! (As, “A Guy Named Ray Who Lives in Vermont”)

          • Ray in VT

            This really made my morning. Thanks, Brett.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Don’t pollute: hold your breath

      CO2 is plant food.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Where does the carbon in our breath come from?

        Answer this correctly, and you will know why we don’t increase the carbon in the air by breathing.

  • andrewgarrett

    Again, if my fellow environmentalists care about human-caused climate change then why do they constantly oppose nuclear power? By ever measure nuclear power kills far fewer humans than fossil fuels do, and we don’t store our nuclear waste in the atmosphere. If you are worried about human health and the environment, nuclear is actually the best choice. Yet environmentalists reject it, thus embracing the use of coal and tar sands.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Because nuclear power is deeply flawed and we DO NOT NEED IT. Renewable energy can easily provide way than enough energy.

      • HonestDebate1

        “Renewable energy can easily provide way than enough energy.”

        That is not true.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Enough energy from the sun strikes the earth in a day to power ALL humans on earth for 27 years.

          Twenty seven years.

          The sun powers everything on earth, all the time.

          • tbphkm33

            We are already 100% solar. Oil and coal come from living organisms that soaked in the sun millions of years ago. Just a slight problem that these resources kills the planet as we go rampant in burning them up.

            On the bright side, the Earth will survive… the human race, well, we might not.

          • HonestDebate1

            That’s true but harnessing in is a different matter. What’s the Gigawatt per acre ratio?

            The sun does not power the trucking industry or the airline industry.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Trains are far more efficient for long distance shipping than trucks. Short distance trucking is doable with electric drive, and biodiesel could be used for airplanes.

            We need a diverse mix of all types of renewable energy, over a broad geographic area. Energy is everywhere, and we need to use our brains to see the big, long term picture.

            There is no waste in nature. And we have to fit in to nature, if we want to survive.

            You should watch ‘Gasland’ to see how problematic fracking is. It is freakin’ nasty.

          • HonestDebate1

            You’re making my point, we must have fossil fuels. There are no solar trains, there is no solar biodiesel.

            I am all for an all of the above solution, fossil fuels included.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Huh?

            Trains can be run on electricity, and electricity can come from any of most renewable energy sources, including solar PV, solar heat, wind power, wave power, tidal power, geothermal, or biogas.

            Biodiesel can come from jatropha:

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

            or from sunflowers, or from algae, or waste cooking oil.

          • HonestDebate1

            There are no solar trains.

          • Ray in VT
          • HonestDebate1

            Whoda’ thunk. It looks more like a subway to me. When can we replace all the tracks with tunnels? I looks very practical and doable…. not.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup. It looks too complex and inconvenient for us to figure out here in the 21st century. Better not even try…not.

          • HonestDebate1

            I disagree, I say try it, just don’t use my money.

          • Ray in VT

            That whole interstate highway thingey and Erie Canal dealie all worked out so well with private money. I’m sure that it will work again.

          • HonestDebate1

            I get your point Ray but back up and look at the claim here. It’s a cool train but it cost billions for 2.1 miles. Mr. Blanchard is saying we can do without fossil fuels. Let’s not start building transcontinental tunnel trays just yet.

          • Ray in VT

            You said that there are no solar trains. That is not the case. How much did the first home PC cost? I believe that it was a Honeywell that cost $10,000 in 1969 dollars. DVD players cost hundreds 25ish years ago. That is sort of the way that things go with new technologies.

            I think that doing entirely without fossil fuels is perhaps not presently doable, but there are certainly options currently that could make a large dent, and more are sure to come, and public policy decisions can certainly make an impact there, although fossil fuel interests will certainly fight against that which threatens their bottom lines. I am certainly not willing to let the “free market” make these choices entirely, as it will often go for the “cheap” fuel up front and worry about other, more costly, impacts later if ever. I’ll side with the scientific community on this one and assign a level of concern to our burning of carbon fuels that indicates that this is a habit that we need to move away from with all deliberate haste.

          • HonestDebate1

            Yes, I was wrong about the solar train. There is one. My sincerest apologies.

            The science says natural gas burns cleaner and the science also says the last science was exaggerated. Your analogy fails because the government has no money. But I agree it’s not doable.

          • Ray in VT

            Perhaps you should check before making claims such as the one that you did.

            My analogy fails in no way. Money can always be found, especially, it seems, if it is for a war, and the record on the benefits of pushing r&d is pretty good.

            What does the science say about increasing acidification and heat in the oceans? I’m sure that the ocean can just keep on sucking up heat, because it won’t either reach an equilibrium point or have a change in currents that will funnel that warmer water back towards the surface.

          • HonestDebate1

            Money isn’t found, it’s printed, borrowed or confiscated.

          • Ray in VT

            Money can always be found for GOP boondoggles. You also forgot taxation.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Are you pretending to be stupid? There are no trains that synthesis diesel, either.

            Solar PV and polar heat and wind turbines and biogas can all generate electricity which can power the trains. Electric trains are THE MOST EFFICIENT way to move anything long distances.

          • HonestDebate1

            Ocean liners also run on electricity. Electricity generated by Diesel. And no, I don’t need to pretend, I really am stupid. But I do understand there is no way at this time we can run the country without fossil fuels. I do know that we have trains already and we still need a huge trucking industry.

            Maybe they could put solar panels on top of trucks that carry batteries. They can charge the batteries as the trucks cross the country. That might work and same a dollar….provided the ruck ahas plenty of diesel to make the trip.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Not can we run without fossil fuels – we have to do it.

            Trucks are *much* less efficient than trains, for long distance transport. A train can carry a ton well over 400 miles on a gallon of diesel. And it can use even less energy in the form of electricity. Solar panels can be along side the track, and the regenerative braking alone make this much better than fossil fuels.

            Electric cars and trucks are easy. Look at Tesla. Trucks are only needed for short hauls, and electricity is great for this.

            Putting solar PV panels on any vehicle other than a *very* efficient car does not work.

          • HonestDebate1

            “Not can we run without fossil fuels – we have to do it.”

            Now you’re getting to the nub. IMHO that is a very dangerous statement. Implicit within is the notion we have no choice and must act no matter the cost. That is the sentiment the nearly criminal IPCC wants. That’s where the big time worldwide UN money is. How about a global carbon tax? How about offsetting international carbon credits built into trade agreements? And how about the crony kickbacks to the unions for erecting solar panels along every train track in America just to get to a starting point because now the trains need to replace the trucks on top of it all.

            No, it can’t happen. If we stopped using fossil fuels it would roll back the clock 150 years. Industry would grind to a halt. The suffering would be unthinkable. To many it does not matter because they are convinced to the pit of their soul with every fiber of their being the earth is doomed. It always sells.

            So are you telling me we can build a solar transcontinental freight train but a few panels on top of a tractor trailer can’t charge up a truckload of cell phone batteries while they ride? How about solar powered refrigerator trucks? Let the solar power the cooling, cool. But I’m sure they thought of it. It’s more efficient to run a generator off the diesel engine.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            The cost of not switching to renewables is MUCH higher than transitioning as quickly as we can off of fossil fuels.

            Fossil fuels will run out anyway – much more quickly that you may think. And then we would pay a lot more because both the climate would be a lot worse and because we would have to switch almost instantly – which would be chaos.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zORv8wwiadQ

          • HonestDebate1

            Relax, we’re fine. We’re doing better and we have plenty of oil to tide us over. We’ll get there one day.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You are badly mistaken; even delusional. We have enormous problems, and climate change is already causing numerous problems.

            I’d love to be wrong, but in fact you are.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, the IPCC was wrong and we are not seeing the problems that were supposed to be here. It’s not getting warmer, we are not seeing more hurricanes and tornadoes. We are seeing weather. I believe in weather.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            So, the world’s best climate scientists are all wrong, and I should take your word for it?

            Okay fine, anonymous Internet person …

            Answer me this basic question: if there is a lot of oil out there, why do we need tar sands bitumen? Why are we scraping the dregs out of the barrel?

          • HonestDebate1

            Can we drill in ANWR? Off the coast of California or Florida? Can we frack? How is Germany’s nuke free experiment going? New reserves are found everyday.

        • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

          Other factors are how much energy we waste, the increase of human population. As we work on energy conservation and more efficient use, and continue to taper off our population in the long run, the need for fossil fuels will end.
          Right now, almost all the arguments for continued use of fossil fuels comes from the fossil fuels industry itself. Time after time I’ve checked and that’s where the money is coming from. I think, given the choice, most of the public want energy that’s clean, renewable, and used responsibly. We don’t have to sacrifice anything but our outmoded concepts of our ‘need’ for fossil fuels.

          • HonestDebate1

            I agree with you on all counts, we’re just not there yet..

    • WorriedfortheCountry
  • Jengliu

    For every dollar that major recipients of the dirty oil sand through

    yet to be built Keystone XL Pipeline spent, they should be required to pay down 20 cents for the Future Oil Leaks Cleaning Fund.

  • AbsenteeOwnersOfOurCountry

    C-Span’s ‘Washington Journal’ on Sat.Nov. 12, 2011 (the first 45-minute segment of three programs) covered the Keystone XL pipeline with the topic of “Delay of Proposed Keystone Pipeline.
    1. It states in the contract that gas prices will rise in the areas of the pipeline.

    2. Canadians have refused to have this environmentally dirty tar sands oil run through Canada.

    3. There is nothing in the contract that states the oil will be for the U. S. consumers.

    4. Valero (I assume is an oil company) has said it is going to turn the tar sands oil into diesel and ship it overseas.

    The guest on the program discussing this was: Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council International Director.

    This is available at: cspan.org/videolibrary and key Lefkowitz’s name for Nov. 12, 2011

    Mon. Feb. 3, 2014@11:07am

    • William

      There is a demand for oil from developing nations and it seems a much better idea to see Canada get the money vice any Middle East nation.

    • sickofthechit

      I personally think “Valero” is BP’s attempt to distance its stations from the BP Gulf of Mexico Disaster. Around here Valero has appeared where former BP stations used to be.

      • AbsenteeOwnersOfOurCountry

        To sickofthechit to me on “Valero” is BP’s attempt to distance its stations from the BP Gulf of Mexico Disaster.”
        So, that is who Valero is. Thanks, I wondered.

        2.22.14Sat.@2.38pm

  • sickofthechit

    Took disqs 20-30 minutes to decide this was acceptable! I thought maybe Cheney had taken over disqus.

  • jimino

    If there is a spill and people need to work to clean it up. that’s counted as a increase in GDP which, if I understand those like Honest Debate, is a good thing. And if enough people are made ill from a spill and need expensive medical care, that also increases GDP. So to those who measure our condition by our GDP, an expensive pipeline that is also faulty enought to leak dangerous material is a good thing. Maybe that explains their position on this issue.

    • TFRX

      That “spill = work!” is right up there with the axiom that divorces, heart attacks and car crashes increase the GDP.

  • Coastghost

    If Millennials actually constitute our first generation of environmentalist lemmings, as numerous “On Point” features have posited, why has this cohort not abandoned popular music utterly entirely and altogether? (We could even ask why Pete Seeger was not leading an acoustic revival in 2013.)
    The production and distribution and consumption of popular music entails all kinds of potential possibilities for environmental calamity and mishap, yet popular music thrives and thrives and thrives: all those lights and amplifiers, all those concert halls and parking lots, all those receivers and dependable cables, all that plastic, all that electricity generation, year after year?
    We hear one disconnect . . . but not another. Curiouser and curiouser.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Small ball thinking. You have no idea what you are talking about.

      • Coastghost

        I concede, however, to having an idea of what others are not talking about.

  • CJ12345

    The tar sands are in an area that is subject to treaties with first nations. The rights of these first nations are also affirmed in the Canadian Constitution. Both Canada and the US are signatories of the UN Charter on Human Rights, which also makes special note of aboriginal rights. If the permits for tar sands extraction violate treaties with first nations, does approving the Keystone XL make the US complicit in human rights abuse?

    http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/in-depth-on-indigenous-rights-in-the-tar-sands

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      This is already a huge problem, and yes, the rights of First Nations people have been trampled.

  • William

    I think 9-11 pretty much proved our biggest oil supplier has huge problems with it’s people and their religion. There is no doubt that the Middle East oil producing countries have little if any respect for us. The shale oil boom here and elsewhere in the world have them very worried and worried nations do dangerous things.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/why-the-us-is-walking-away-from-the-middle-east-2013-11

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    ” I took Nuclear Engineering courses in college”

    Ask for a refund.

  • AJNorth

    Two articles germane to this discussion:

    Associated Press, 21 Jan 2014: “NOAA: World in 2013 was 4th hottest on
    record” — http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/s

    Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 8 Oct 2013: “No warming for 16 years?” — http://www.abc.net.au/science/

    (Both contain additional useful links.)

  • Paul Lauenstein

    This issue is really simple. We have already burned our quota of fossil fuel. Atmospheric CO2 is well above the maximum safe level of 350 ppm, and climbing at an accelerating rate. Sea levels are also rising at an accelerating rate, threatening trillions of dollars worth of assets in coastal cities, and epic drought is a threatening agriculture in the American West, which will drive up food prices. The only way to avert catastrophic climate change is to leave the remaining carbon in the the ground. We must use our finite capital resources to improve energy efficiency and shift to clean, renewable energy sources. There is no room in that strategy for building more fossil fuel pipelines.

    • warryer

      These are talking points. Where are the hard facts?

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    The opponents of the Keystone pipeline are long on emotion and short on facts. Approval of keystone is a no-brainer. Good for jobs and the economy. More tax revenue too. No government funding required.

    I understand it is a symbol of their cause but why screw the rest of us.

    Reminds me of the mindless protests against Seabrook station nuclear plant. The world did not end with the building of Seabrook. Instead it is a reliable and cheap source of CO2 free power. Given the recent spikes in price in natural gas during the recent cold spell we sure could have used the second plant at Seabrook. And don’t get me started on the Cape Wind nonsense. They have contracted a price to sell the power between $.20/kwh – $.32/kwh which is at least 5x the average wholesale price of the NE grid in 2012.

    The key for adoption of alternative energy sources is to lower costs so they are competitive. A real win-win.

    • Flitzy

      And when the east, west, and southern most cities of the US fall into the ocean and cities are ruined because of oil spills, then what will you do? Do you think the oil companies will care? You only need to look to Freedom Industries in Virginia to see how little they care.

      • Jim

        Really? I guess you never studied earth science. Cities have fallen in the seas for thousands of years and nothing we can do will prevent that from happening. Take the emotions out of the argument. The fact is the US has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other country in the world. And BTW, the northeast needs a little global warming.

        • Guest

          Climate change deniers. Aren’t they wonderful?

  • nobodys_fault

    Since the oil appears to be coming out of the shale one way or another, I guess my biggest concern is the threat of a leak in the pipeline. Are measures being taken — i.e., using the latest technology, required maintenance and monitoring, etc. — to make sure this remains a very remote possibility? To me, the threat of a leak, especially into aquifers and groundwater, has always seemed to be the best argument against the pipeline.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Tar sand bitumen is nasty stuff. It is acidic, and it is way too thick/viscous to be pumped through a pipeline, so they have to dilute it (with cheap gasoline?). It takes more pressure to move it. It does greater wear and tear on the pipeline, and we have ALREADY had 3 dilbit pipeline failures.

      It is very hard to clean up, too.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    I’ve even heard 2:1 for tar sands. Remember, there are two methods of extraction, and the physical excavation is the less-bad of the two. Tar sand bitumen is very low quality feed stock – it yields MUCH less gasoline and almost no diesel, and it has a lot more … wait for it … tar.

    It uses about 13kWh of electricity per gallon of gasoline produced, which is about 2X as much as typical crude.

    The refinery that this stuff is headed for had to add a $5B more special processing to deal with the acidity and refining it. And they have had an explosion at that refinery, that killed 5 people, if I remember correctly.

    I very much doubt the 17% more carbon number – I think that leaves out all the water and the natural gas and the diesel used in extraction and in the transportation and the refining. It might be that the crude itself only has 17% more carbon? But overall, it is probably much more than that.

  • jefe68

    He could do a simple experiment proving that it is. The bad news is he would die from proving that it is toxic.

  • Flitzy

    Basically, Keystone XL is no good for anyone EITHER WAY but the US needs to stand strong in it’s opposition. With support in Canada waiving for both Keystone and Harper and an election coming in two years, hopefully Canada will be able to vote out the Conservatives while President Obama is still standing strong against approving it.

    What we need to be doing is coming down HARD on these oil companies that are destroying the environment by getting this oil in the first place and impose HARSH, HARSH sanctions against them while funding RENEWABLE sources of energy that don’t come with the disastrous effects that oil or coal does.

  • Potter

    We should say NO to the pipeline and NO to transporting the stuff through our country unsafely by rail or any other means. We should not bend to the argument that this oil will go out to the world anyway. We don’t have to be a part of that. We can make that harder. We should draw a line and set an example.

  • BMiller600

    Will approval of the KXL mean the unsafe rail transport will be stopped? I doubt it.

    • hennorama

      BMiller600 — no. Here’s why:

      Current oil sands production is about 2.5 M bbl/day, and is expected to more than double by 2030.

      KXL’s designed capacity is 830 K bbl/day,, which is only about one-third of current production. In addition, at least 100 K bbl/day of KXL’s capacity is reserved for oil extracted from the Bakken Formation, which extends from southern Saskatchewan into central North Dakota.

      • Jeff

        Building the Keystone XL pipeline means LESS train travel for the oil and not all the oil is going south towards Texas…as many others have pointed out there is another pipeline headed towards the West Coast to export to China.

        • hennorama

          Jeff — thank you for your response.

          If oil sands production increases at the rate anticipated, the increase will equal the KXL capacity in five years. The pipeline will take a projected two years to build if approved. It is likely that rail and other transport methods will expand both as production expands and until any new pipeline capacity is actually in place.

          Regardless, the question was “Will approval of the KXL mean the unsafe rail transport will be stopped?”

          The answer is clearly “No,” as stated.

          • Jeff

            Less is better than more, isn’t it? Refusing to do something because it’s not 100% perfect is not a good reason to stop something that is 90% good.

          • hennorama

            Jeff — I personally have not expressed a position for or against the KXL project. My posts presented information in order to answer the question that was posed.

  • sickofthechit

    Because they haven’t figured out how to bill us for sunlight!

    charles a. bowsher

  • sickofthechit

    I love your sense of logic and humor! thanks, charles a. bowsher

  • ml01106

    It’s filthy, dirty! Stop it now!

  • BMiller600

    I don’t think much, if anything, was said on the program about the high cancer rates in the indigenous communities who have lived in and around the areas being mined and contaminated. They have treaty rights to hunt and fish, but these communities can no longer drink the water or safely eat the animals they depend on. Please take the time to see this two-part video, “To the Last Drop”:

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    And please look at the gorgeous photography of Garth Lenz, showing the Boreal forests that are being and will be scraped off the face of the earth to get to the tar sands if we don’t stop using this product. The Boreal Forest is one of the most important carbon sinks we have on the planet and is important for the global community, but the Harper administration is replacing it with the most carbon-intensive endeavor we have ever seen:

  • VinceD2

    The sad fact is that we do not have the power to stop oil sands development, are we going to go to war with Canada?

    Now either we buy that oil, or the Chinese will. The XL is not the only pipeline proposal. But does the XL make sense? No!

    Why do we “need” to pipe that oil to Texas? Why not refine it at the Northern border and distribute the finished products form there. It would surely coat less to build a refinery than the pipeline, our dependance on Hurricane Alley refineries would be reduced and the transportation costs of that oil would be reduced.

    Unless there was no intention for America to use that oil, in which case Texas might make sense after all.

    So instead of simply accepting this pipeline, we need to look a little deeper and assure that anything that gets built is for the benefit of “We The People”, not just the big oil companies that don’t care about anyone else.

    • pete18

      The great thing about capitalism is that it doesn’t matter if a company “cares about anybody else.”

      As long as they offer something that people will freely trade their money for, and they have competition, they will benefit lots of people regardless of how that company “feels” or “cares” about anybody. Free market capitalism is not dependent on good will, or altruism to be a good force in society. That is the genius of the system.

      • VinceD2

        Yeah, that’s the theory, it’s almost a religion. But when corporations gain power to seize land, assets, commit others to risk and externalize their costs and risks to others, capitalism turns into cannibalism.

        When Capitalism overtakes it’s democracy, it is little better than communism.

        Look around, this isn’t working so well.

        • pete18

          “But when corporations gain power to seize land, assets, commit others to
          risk and externalize their costs and risks to others, capitalism turns
          into cannibalism.”

          That usually only happens when they collude with government. When I look around, I see capitalism itself doing fine, more of it would solve many of our economic problems. Less government, interference, restrictions, and cronyism would allow a more robust practice of it it with more balance and prevention of the problems you describe above.

          • VinceD2

            Collude with government – the army of lobbyists in DC is buying OUR government right out from under us.

            Capitalism, like Communism, fails to take human greed and lust for power into account. Capitalism works well only when there is a real democracy to keep it in check. Unfortunately our democracy has been undermined by lobbyists.

            Without regulation, the powerful run roughshod over the not so powerful.

            Industries want to pollute at will, of course the corporate owners won’t have that pollution in their back yard….

            Corporations want to skirt competition for workers, the free labor market, by importing workers to depress wages.

            Just a couple examples.

    • ThirdWayForward

      This is the central point — who is this oil for, who benefits, who loses? I read, perhaps a year ago, that the refineries in Texas do not have to pay taxes on the oil if they are exporting it overseas. The oil transported by the Keystone XL is not intended for markets in North America.

      http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2012/01/KXL_undermine_energy_security_2page_Web.pdf

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/03/do-republicans-realize-that-keystone-pipeline-won-t-bring-gas-to-u-s.html

      The other question is why the current Keystone corridor cannot be expanded (why not put another pipeline running alongside the existing one?). I suspect that there are huge real estate fortunes ready to be made if the Nebraska extension goes through, and that this is one of the major drivers of the Republican obsession with this.

      Until we have an across-the-board carbon tax, our deliberations about global warming and other externalities cannot be made rational.

  • AbsenteeOwnersOfOurCountry

    dfg to William on the XL Pipeline. Funny, but sadly true in your “It’s like saying you’d prefer to be hit in the head by a Canadian wielding a 10 pound hammer than a Saudi wielding an 8 pound hammer.” Great, just great…

    2.22.14 Sat@2:42pm

ONPOINT
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Jul 29, 2014
The U.S. Senate is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP)

The “Do-Nothing” Congress just days before August recess. We’ll look at the causes and costs to the country of D.C. paralysis.

Jul 29, 2014
This April 28, 2010 file photo, shows the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont. Colstrip figures to be a target in recently released draft rules from the Environmental Protection Agency that call for reducing Montana emissions 21 percent from recent levels by 2030. (AP)

A new sci-fi history looks back on climate change from the year 2393.

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Jul 28, 2014
U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One. We’ll look at lessons learned and our uneasy peace right now.

 
Jul 28, 2014
This June 4, 2014 photo shows a Walgreens retail store in Boston. Walgreen Co. _ which bills itself as “America’s premier pharmacy” _ is among many companies considering combining operations with foreign businesses to trim their tax bills. (AP)

American companies bailing out on America. They call it inversion. Is it desertion?

On Point Blog
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