The House is bringing back the Keystone pipeline

  1. Is anyone else absolutely furious and dumbfounded about this? I know its typical of corporate america and government to put money for the wealthy ahead of the well being of everyone else on the planet, but come on. To believe that the Keystone pipeline would not be a complete ecological disaster one would have to be arrogant, delusional, or just insane. I know its a long way from passing but the shear fact that this bill was even resurrected shows how corrupt and arrogant the republican party is.

    The actions that Obama has taken against this bill alone guarantees my vote for him for re-election. I don't agree with everything his does but I'm with him and the rest of the democrats 100% on this issue. I just can't understand why everyone else isn't.
  2. jcsd
  3. Can you point me to some information that describes the ecological impact this pipeline would have, and why it is any worse than any other pipeline that exists? I'm not saying you're wrong, I just have no information about this at all.
  4. I would also like to know why people are opposed to this pipeline.

    Most of what I could find from about 30 minuets of quick research is that the project is going to help big oil by getting crude to refiners easier and cheaper so that big oil will make a profit.

    If this is your beef with this pipe line please go and do us all a favor and be quiet. If you have a legitimate technical concern then I'd like to hear it.
  5. Or how unrealistic the democratic party is with respect to maintaining energy security? High gas prices do make for good campaign slogans for leftists whom claim to be anti-big-oil. (but really, they're just pro-GE or some other mega giant with just as large of profits sucking on the US's willingness to free-fund green-projects)

    Seriously though - what's the impact? The studies that I have seen all point to nearly no impact for such a pipeline. I'm pretty agnostic-leading-towards-supporting the pipeline - it's a relatively short term solution, but one we probably need. Sure, there are new nukes going online (hopefully) soon, but those don't fuel cars and lots of other parts of our infrastructure for decades.

    I like the analogy with home video. Sure, BluRays disks are the new best thing. The picture quality is awesome, but does that mean that I am going to go out and replace my 300 DVDs and 100 VHS with a BRD immediately? No! Even if my DVD player breaks I'm likely to buy a new one just because of the investment I have in DVDs. Does that mean I will always have DVDs? In 20 years: I expect not. Does buying a new DVD player mean that I think DVDs are the best format out there? No! If one of my VHS tapes or DVDs go bad, sure, I'm likely to 'move forward' and replace it with a BluRay - but a wholesale swap from one technology to another is unfeasable. Sometimes maintainence of an older-technology is neccessary to keep going and allow for eventual upgrades to new technology. Heck - my mom still has some reel-to-reel home videos and she just recently bought a new (well, used but working) projector for them. It was a concious decision - she mulled digitizing the videos (with the right equipment she's savvy enough to do it her self), but realized that it was ultimately significantly cheaper to buy a new projector, at least for now. This works with our current energy discussions - sure, ideally, we'd all love to have solar panels and nukes. They're just too expensive to wholesale replace our energy needs. Sometimes we need to bite the bullet and just replace the (relatively cheap) VHS player when it goes bad so we can watch our old movies rather than buy 100 bluray disks. The money saved in replacing the VHS player (instead of buying 100 BRDs) allows me to buy new blurays and actually GROW my movie collection rather than just replacing old things constantly...

    This is all besides the fact anyhow: if we don't buy the oil from Canada someone else will. The lack of a keystone XL pipeline does NOT prevent the development in the Canadian arctic. The Canadian government has already dedicated themselves to selling this oil, it's just a matter of WHO is getting it.
  6. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Furious yes, dumbfounded no. That Obama would put nonexistent/trumped-up ecological concerns ahead of economic and Middle Eastern oil concerns is not at all surprising to me. Even as the economy was supposedly the most important thing on his plate, he's made it clear on several occasions that the economy is not his primary concern. Pandering to special interests is.

    To me this is not unlike his apparently illegal (he's being sued) closure of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  7. The ecological impacts of the pipeline would cause a lot of harm to the environment, but thats really not the big issue. Here's a fact sheet for it anyway:

    The issue is that the oil that would be flowing through the pipeline would be coming from Canadian tar sands There's endless amounts of information on the net about the negative impacts of mining and extracting oil from tar sands that one can get from a quick google search, so I'll only post a link and a video of Bill McKibb briefly explaining the situation.

    Tar Sand Basics:

    For a quick summary:<div style="background-color:#000000;width:520px;"><div style="padding:4px;"><iframe src="" width="512" height="288" frameborder="0"></iframe><p style="text-align:left;background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;"><b>The Colbert Report</b> <br/>Get More: <a href=''>Colbert Report Full Episodes</a>,<a href=''>Political Humor & Satire Blog</a>,<a href=''>Video Archive</a></p></div></div>
  8. I see. So when republicans in congress are lobbied by oil companies to pass a bill for developing the mining of one of the largest oil deposits in the world for the sole purpose of making a huge profit its democracy. But when the president veto's such a bill due to environmental concerns its pandering to "special interests" (I forgot that oil companies aren't special interests). Thanks for clearing that up.

    I happen to agree with the president that the conservation of the environment trumps economics under any state or condition of the country. I don't know where you're getting "nonexistent" and "trumped-up" ecological concerns from. The negative environmental impacts of mining and refining oil from tar sands has long been understood to be a bad idea. Thats why only two countries in the world do it and under small scale.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  9. Great point, but not necessarily correct. The Canadian government seems rather split on the topic as far as I can tell and proponents don't even believe the lies they've been telling.

    The Canadian public is protesting the development the mining of the tar sands as well.

    Canada's long term stance on the issue still seems a unclear but its known for sure that the UK and China both have their eyes on mining the tar sands.
  10. mheslep

    mheslep 3,326
    Gold Member

    This thread needs work. It begins with an announcement of emotional state and an invitation to join the cause emotionally, based on no facts about anything other than the pending political action. When asked for facts we get comedy central videos, "mining has impacts" references, statements made as fact about the "lies" of proponents, and "its long been understood" platitudes.
  11. Canada is able to market its bitumen because there is a global demand for it. The intensity and degree of GHG emissions (from well to wheel) are greatly exagerrated/misrepresented. They account for ~6.5% of Canadian GHG emissions and 0.1% of global emissions. The 12 largest power plants in the US (of ~8000) produce just over 5 times the emissions that all of the oil sands operations produce (on an annual basis).

    The proposed (and delayed) Northern Gateway Pipeline would bring the heavy crude west, over the Rockies, to the Pacific coast. This would then open up exports to China and other east Asian markets.

    Canada is in a position to extract and export crude bitumen because there is a world market for it. If there was not a demand, then it would not be economic to produce it. If there was not a demand, the Keystone XL pipeline would not be a consideration.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  12. Why does it matter where it comes from? Canada has already said they are going to be producing it anyways. So if we decide not to build the pipeline it wont help the enviroment at all. The only thing that could be accomplished is "punishing" Canada for doing it and costing American jobs in the process.
    Basically you would be hurting America's and Canada's economy and not helping the enviroment at all.
  13. Obama was following the DoS recommendation to delay permitting the pipeline because they, ostensibly, wanted to look at the situation in Nebraska more closely, afaik. (Maybe not just coincidentally, the delaying action would also seem to play to a large portion of Obama's base as well as progressive independents.) I suspect that the pipeline will be ok'd sometime after the presidential election no matter who is elected.
  14. It seems to me the reason for him to put it off till after the election, is so that he doesnt lose the union vote, pipelines are very union oriented jobs. I doubt it will go through until someone besides obama is in the white house, but as long as he can keep the unions feeling the same as you, he will get their vote now, when it matters to him. Next year, it doesnt matter because he is ineligable for a third term, and why he will refuse to support it then.
  15. PM Harper has specifically stated several times that Canada is still courting the development to other countries (source 1, source 2 - these are both just from the past 2 weeks...). Your articles do NOT address this in the slightest, they talk about how Europe may now be shunning Canada (or at least making it harder for them to sell the tar sands oil) and how there's some protests in Canada. OK? Even with the potential increased regulator costs associated with classifying tar sands as 'dirty' in Europe, there is likely still significant demand (which your article notes). That should be another key to how urgent the development of these resources are, and help to show that someone is going to use them. It might as well be us IMO.

    Also, just because a fringe group protests the tar sands doesn't mean 'the canadian public' is against it. In fact the article (regarding the protests) mentions that a Greenpeace founder is actually OK with tar sands mining because the area is left generally better than they found it and the NYT article below notes almost 75% support from 'the Canadian public' for the policies which include expanding development of tar sands.

    I especially like this article:
    Finally, here was the immediate reaction to the President's purely-political decision (this article was from 1/19/12 after President Obama made his announcement):
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
  16. Whether Canada wants to produce it or not, shale oil is useless unless it can be transported to a refinery. If there's no means to transport the material, then there's no reason to harvest it.
  17. What my post was meant to communicate was my suspicion that Obama nixed the pipeline now for political reasons, and that he'll ok it after/if he gets elected to a second term. So, if it's just a temporary delay due to politics, why would Obama not ok it if he gets elected?
  18. So, why don't the major oil companies build new refineries close to the source? Answer: refineries are enormously expensive. It's, apparently, more cost effective to pipe the stuff all the way to Texas and then export it.

    This pipeline isn't going to make a dent in the US employment situation, or the US economy. What it is going to do is facilitate huge short term profits for a very few companies involved.

    Is there any real environmental danger involved? Only if there are mistakes made in the construction and maintenance of the pipeline. Is it even possible that the companies involved might make mistakes that could cause rather significant ecological distasters? Sure.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
  19. A pipeline is just one of the most efficient solutions to transport the crude oil. They could build a pipeline to one of their own coastal refineries or put it on tankers. (think about how the US gets all of it's own crude from non-continental sources)
  20. I have a question. The hoopla over this is that it runs over a major aquifer, right? So why not just change the course of the pipeline to go around it?

    EDIT: And something of note is that the states this thing runs through are about as red as they come, its not just democrats that oppose this.
  21. I'm not sure what the point is of emphasizing Canadian support for the oil sands. Are you suggesting a national movement of some sort?

    We are not discussing shale oil here. These deposits are bitumen-rich sands. The differences in extraction and production of bitumen versus shale oil are significantly different.

    Also, there are significant enough pipelines to and from the Fort McMurray area to transport crude bitumen to the rest of Alberta and then to the United States. Keystone would be one of many pipelines.

    I'm assuming the answer to your question is basically economics as I'm sure a less sensitive route that cost less would be the first choice for TransCanada - I could be wrong, however.

    One point to note is that crude bitumen is diluted with natural gas condensate (naptha) or syntheic naptha/crude oil into a substance known as dilbit . This reduces the viscosity of the crude bitumen in order to allow for it to be transported via pipeline. Even in this less viscous state, it would be very difficult for dilbit to penetrate the 30+ meters of overburden into the Ogallala aquifer.

    The risk does exist, however, and this has been addressed by the more than 50 special conditions that TransCanada has accepted (laid out by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration here).

    I disagree with you here. The cost of refineries/upgraders (crude bitumen needs to be upgraded before it is refined) is certainly a consideration, but it more the economics; more precisely the heavy crude versus light crude differential. Even with incentives in Alberta (Bitumen Royalty In-Kind program, amongst others) it is not economic to build more refineries and upgraders near the source. In fact, Syncrude and Suncor have their facilities and, as the major producers, there really isn't anyone else who would have enough capital or see enough production to justify building these facilities. The rest, who are not mining the bitumen but are producing it through Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage techniques are forced to transport the crude bitumen as dilbit to the US because of these limitations.

    Yes, the pipeline will do little for the US economy, but if you have a concentrated area where significant amounts of dilbit are arriving via pipeline, it may be very well worth building upgrading/refining facilities. If so, this has the potential for huge economic contributions.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
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