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12-19-2011, 03:42 PM   #1
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Keystone XL

I don't see why this issue is causing so much hullabaloo with the payroll tax holiday extension. For a long time, the way that I was hearing reports it sounded like the republicans were tying the extension to actually approving the pipeline but over the weekend the truth has been reported that the only thing being mandated is the Obama administration to give an up or down approval of the pipeline within 60 days of the law being passed. The administration wants to wait until after the election to make an official decision and I think it is pretty obvious that their hand has been forced and they have shown that they will approve it ultimately, they just don't want to approve it before every member of the sierra club, WWF, and greenpeace have dutifully and enthusiastically cast their votes for the democratic party's ticket.

I am personally kind of ambivalent about the issue because I am a strong advocate for the environment and I know all too well how badly oil production and distribution, even when done with a much respect for the environment as possible, can destroy it.

The case for the pipeline:
As with many things (and even with the DWH disaster), America is one of the best countries in the world at producing, transporting, and refining oil while minimizing the environmental impact of these activities so I cautiously say, yes we should do this. I am of the mindset that says if you must do something so dangerous as use oil for fuel, instead of taking the NIMBY attitude it is more responsible to say "Nowhere Except My Back Yard" to make sure it is done right.

Petroleum distillates such as gasoline and jet fuel are becoming significant contributor to the US's export account on the balance of trade and could expand with this pipeline as we reduce our fuel consumption but keep our refinery capacity steady. The world must continue to use oil for fuel for the medium term (5-10 years) and unfortunately, will probably continue to use it for the longer term (20+ years) regardless of what we do in this country.

The case against the pipeline:
The oil sands are extremely low grade that they aren't even considered oil in their current form and while they are vast, using them at the pace the world consumes oil will do severe environmental damage so that makes me thing we should not go forward with the pipeline.

Other things to consider:
Canada is committed to profiting off of the oil sands (and their continued production and export of asbestos shows their lack of care for the environment) and wants to build a pipeline out to the west coast so they can export it to China, a deal which will take on a greater sense of urgency if the US market is more difficult to access and which still exposes the NW US coast to potential tanker spills. This will probably happen either way but like I said, it will be done with a sense of urgency if they can't expand in the US.


Honestly, I don't care if the payroll tax expires or is continued and if it is continued and they force a decision, I don't care if the administration says "yes" or "no." But this is exactly the kind of thing that people cite when they say that the Obama administration is using regulations to kill jobs, leaving this policy hanging or not approving drilling permits, or writing drilling permits for alaska and cutting the drilling season short by 30%.
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Here is a very interesting article about the issue of oil production for everyone who lives by NIMBY... I know a few people with western oil companies who constantly fight with their russian and chinese partners about personal and environmental safety lapses and attitudes, the most responsible of companies in either one of those countries would make Massey execs seem like treehugging hippies.
QuoteQuote:
Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world's largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output.
QuoteQuote:
It's part of a legacy of environmental tragedy that has plagued Russia and the countries of its former Soviet empire for decades, from the nuclear horrors of Chernobyl in Ukraine to lethal chemical waste in the Russian city of Dzerzhinsk and paper mill pollution seeping into Siberia's Lake Baikal, which holds one-fifth of the world's supply of fresh water.
QuoteQuote:
Even counting only the 500,000 tons officially reported to be leaking into northern rivers every year, Russia is by far the worst oil polluter in the world.

—Nigeria, which produces one-fifth as much oil as Russia, logged 110,000 tons spilled in 2009, much of that due to rebel attacks on pipelines.

—The U.S., the world's third-largest oil producer, logged 341 pipeline ruptures in 2010 — compared to Russia's 18,000 — with 17,600 tons of oil leaking as a result, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Spills have averaged 14,900 tons a year between 2001 and 2010.

—Canada, which produces oil in weather conditions as harsh as Russia's, does not see anything near Russia's scale of disaster. Eleven pipeline accidents were reported to Canada's Transport Safety Board last year, while media reports of leaks, ranging from sizable spills to a tiny leak in a farmer's backyard, come to a total of 7,700 tons a year.

—In Norway, Russia's northwestern oil neighbor, spills amounted to some 3,000 tons a year in the past few years, said Hanne Marie Oeren, head of the oil and gas section at Norway's Climate and Pollution Agency.
AP Enterprise: Russia oil spills wreak devastation - Yahoo! Finance

12-20-2011, 03:11 PM   #2
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Just for the record, asbestos is a health hazard more than an environmental one, but to say that Canada doesn't care about the environment based on one edgy mineral being mined is a wildly inaccurate statement.
12-20-2011, 03:34 PM   #3
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There is apparently some misinformation being floated around by some pressure groups with the aim to shut down the Keystone XL in the states. This may mean the US may not access the oil, which would have a significant effect on employment and oil prices in the states.

As far as Canada is concerned, the oil will find ready markets in other parts of the world. BTW, Canada has one of the best reputations in the world for ensuring protection of environment through regulations and enforcement.

I think it would wise for Americans to closely examine which pressure groups are involved, who funds these groups and why and ask the groups some tough questions about their anti oil rationale.

It appears some of these pressure groups don't seem to have to answer hardball questions. I don't know why.

I always thought democracy should focus on the American developed concept of...' for the people, by the people..'...not cater to the wants of pressure groups .
12-20-2011, 03:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
over the weekend the truth has been reported that the only thing being mandated is the Obama administration to give an up or down approval of the pipeline within 60 days of the law being passed.
That is correct, but this crap of attaching non-related legislation to a bill has to stop. Both sides do it and it can be a pretty effective way of obstructing; which is exactly what's happening here. Personally I don't care much one way or the other whether the tax extension passes or not as it isn't enough to be significant. Using the legislative process to destroy the legislative process is a big deal.

12-20-2011, 04:03 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Just for the record, asbestos is a health hazard more than an environmental one, but to say that Canada doesn't care about the environment based on one edgy mineral being mined is a wildly inaccurate statement.
So if companies pledged to avoid using products derived from the tar sands oil, how would the canadian government respond?

Canadian Government Goes Bananas over Chiquita's Pledge To Avoid Tar Sands Oil : TreeHugger

Someone from the PM's office would set up a website depicting a guerrilla Chiquita banana woman for not buying their oil.

Canada's stance on asbestos disgraceful - Column by Ruth Farquhar - The Sudbury Star - Ontario, CA
12-20-2011, 04:50 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
So if companies pledged to avoid using products derived from the tar sands oil, how would the canadian government respond?

Your question may become academic. If the USA does not want this oil, than Canada I would imagine sell it to other markets. There is a lot of demand for oil in the world. Canada and the US are each other's largest trading partners and have been for years. I'm sure Canada wants to give the USA first crack at oil, but if the US is swayed by pressure groups to not buy this product...then the question as I said before is academic.

Canada like any free enterprise company would seek other markets...which as I've mentioned before there are plenty.

I don't know which side of the fence you are on Mike, but I would pose this question. Do you accept everything you hear/read from pressure groups or do you evaluate closely, weigh the evidence and make your own independent decisions ?

, I mean no offense and I'm not implying that you would not be cautious in assessing what you may read, hear, etc.

I'm just clarifying.


Canadian Government Goes Bananas over Chiquita's Pledge To Avoid Tar Sands Oil : TreeHugger

Someone from the PM's office would set up a website depicting a guerrilla Chiquita banana woman for not buying their oil.

Canada's stance on asbestos disgraceful - Column by Ruth Farquhar - The Sudbury Star - Ontario, CA


I tend to read a lot...from different sources about any subject. I look for information from both sides and also those in the middle. I also like to determine as best I can, what motivation a pressure group, a government, any individual or organization might have for taking the stand they do.
I also like to see hard hitting questions and thorough follow up questions, posed to all stake holders in any issue.
12-20-2011, 05:08 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
So if companies pledged to avoid using products derived from the tar sands oil, how would the canadian government respond?

Canadian Government Goes Bananas over Chiquita's Pledge To Avoid Tar Sands Oil : TreeHugger

Someone from the PM's office would set up a website depicting a guerrilla Chiquita banana woman for not buying their oil.

Canada's stance on asbestos disgraceful - Column by Ruth Farquhar - The Sudbury Star - Ontario, CA
One of the problems we are having in Canada at the moment is that we made the mistake of electing a government that doesn't really represent our values. I suspect that when the Liberal party gets it's act together and gives us a credible leader, they Conservatives will be reduced to a well deserved third place at the polls.
It is also well to point out that what Quebec wants, Quebec tends to get, since any time they get annoyed, they threaten to pack up their marbles and form their own country.
The asbestos thing has as much to do with pacifying Quebec as it does with anything else. If Manitoba was the asbestos capital of Canada, we would have shut down the asbestos industry decades ago.
Politics is just as dirty here as it is in your country, and asbestos is all about dirty politics, not doing the right thing.
At the same time, your claim that Canada doesn't care about the environment because asbestos is still being mined is wrong.
12-20-2011, 05:25 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
One of the problems we are having in Canada at the moment is that we made the mistake of electing a government that doesn't really represent our values. I suspect that when the Liberal party gets it's act together and gives us a credible leader, they Conservatives will be reduced to a well deserved third place at the polls.
It is also well to point out that what Quebec wants, Quebec tends to get, since any time they get annoyed, they threaten to pack up their marbles and form their own country.
The asbestos thing has as much to do with pacifying Quebec as it does with anything else. If Manitoba was the asbestos capital of Canada, we would have shut down the asbestos industry decades ago.
Politics is just as dirty here as it is in your country, and asbestos is all about dirty politics, not doing the right thing.
At the same time, your claim that Canada doesn't care about the environment because asbestos is still being mined is wrong.

I'm in agreement with what you say.

IMO, I'm not sure the Liberals will get their act together. I was unhappy with the last two leaders...IMO...both similar flaws. Although I generally support the Liberals federally, I could not during the past two federal elections.

For awhile now, I've felt that the Canadian political scene will be similar to the British situation of some years ago...when Labour and Liberals blended to make one party.

I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens with the NDP and the Liberals.

12-20-2011, 08:25 PM   #9
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Asbestos is not an environmental issue, we cannot get environmental funds to clean up or address asbestos problems from the federal government. and by we I mean a department of the federal government. It is a health and safety issue. Our governments are quite confident that it asbestos can be handled safely in third world countries, just not in developed countries. It is an embarrassment. As far as the Keystone Pipeline being environmentally safe there are several issues that may not be related. How clean is the oil from the oil sands, secondly how good are our pipelines, thirdly how fast should the oil sands be developed and fourthly how good is the pipeline route. All these should be asked , not by the same people but they are real questions. It think the way Alberta has developed the oil sands is wrong, not that they should never be developed but should be much slower, both for social reasons but also the technology to do it right is still being developed and we are wasting too much natural gas and water doing it the current methods. Many leaks are not reported, even to the land owners and the oil companies are not as friendly to the environment as they would like you to believe. Our economy depends on this industry but even those who earn their living in it may not be satisfied with the lack of care at times and farmers and ranchers are often at odds with the companies. Should crude be shipped along with the jobs or should the refining be done in our own province. And pipeline routes are usually laid out the cheapest route not necessarily the safest one.

This last question must be investigated by your governments as the result of poor decisions can be very expensive down the line. Any alternate pipeline for China whether it goes to Rupert or some other port must also be looked into. The Mackenzie Valley pipeline was delayed since the 70s and was more than likely the very best decision at the time as construction techniques in permafrost have come a long way since then.

Environmental concerns should be decided mostly on environmental factors, not employment potential or threats of the oil going some where else. I do not mean that the environment is the only issue otherwise nothing would ever be done but if the cost to the environment is too great or the potential too high, the short term gains are not worth it.

Oil and gas companies are not the best ones to deal with as they think they own the province and some times it seems like they do. Not that they are all bad or even the bad ones totally bad, it is just that if the attitude is we need the oil and need the jobs then they should be able to do almost whatever they want instead of we want the oil and the jobs but hey want the product and the profit so things should be done fairly the oil companies then behave badly. We need to keep after them regardless if we use a little or a lot of their product. They are necessary but so is a clean healthy environment.

As far as the pipeline route goes, it should not be part of a tax package. I really do not understand the American way of writing laws, if you want to stop child abuse you must support a certain bridge and also a tax credit to cape buffalo ranchers (made up example of course)
12-21-2011, 07:41 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by redrockcoulee Quote
As far as the pipeline route goes, it should not be part of a tax package. I really do not understand the American way of writing laws
What the law says is that the administration must make a decision within a certain time frame, the tax package does not approve or reject the pipeline. The Obama administration was ready to render a decision earlier this year since they have been studying this pipeline for years stretching back to W, but in the spring/summer environmental pressure groups made a big stink about the pipeline and the Obama administration delayed their decision making. All indications are that they are waiting until after the November election to deliver the bad news ,that the pipeline has been approved, to the environmentally concerned voters whose support they need.

QuoteOriginally posted by redrockcoulee Quote
Should crude be shipped along with the jobs or should the refining be done in our own province.
I don't know that is a realistic option on anything other than a very, very long time frame given what goes into siting, designing, approving, building, staffing, and operating an oil refinery or multiple refineries. If you ever made the 350 mile drive from New Orleans to Houston you would see the scale of refining capacity needed. It would take generations to develop and you would need the entire population of Alberta to work it, and if we ever get to a post-petroleum transportation and energy system you it would all be for naught.

QuoteQuote:
As with most aspects of the U.S. oil industry, the Gulf Coast is by far the leader in refinery capacity, with more than twice the crude oil distillation capacity as any other United States region. (The difference is even greater for downstream processing capacity, because the Gulf Coast has the highest concentration of sophisticated facilities in the world.) As discussed in the section on Trade, the Gulf Coast is the nation's leading supplier in refined products as in crude oil. It ships refined product to both the East Coast (supplying more than half of that region's needs for light products like gasoline, heating oil, diesel, and jet fuel) and to the Midwest (supplying more than 20 percent of the region's light product consumption.)
Refining

QuoteOriginally posted by redrockcoulee Quote
Asbestos[...] is a health and safety issue.
The same thing could be said of disposing e-waste, the heavy metals are recoverable if dealt with properly but if you just ship it off to the third world, improper disposal will result in harming everyone who deals with it and poison the environment.
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