Monday, July 30, 2012
Oil oil everywhere...ah let's just leave it in the ground
This is what the fight is about. Does wonders for the landscape eh?
The reason for more study about the Keystone pipeline. Enbridge spill A spill of 1000 barrels of oil (that's 42,000 gallons for those who don't know) in Wisconsin Friday caused anger among local residents. The bulk of the oil was said to be cleaned up by late Saturday but no mention about all the contaminated soil that will have to be dealt with which could take months. This was after another spill two years ago that did great damage to the Kalamazoo river. The company promised to make changes in their procedures to prevent future spills. Sound familiar?
I can think of six good reasons why the extensions of Keystone pipeline should not be built. But a little background so you can get the whole picture. Trans Canada the company responsible for the pipeline had bough out Conoco Philips' stake in the project a few years back. But even before that the unions responsible for constructing it were against it stating that it would not benefit employment and would risk canadian oil security. After all the oil was being pumped out of the country and into the U.S. The Canadian government disagreed and signed the necessary permits to continue anyway. Part of the line was built stretching from Alberta to Nebraska then to Illinois while another was built south to our reserves at Oklahoma. What remains is a connection from Oklahoma to Houston, Texas. From there it would be loaded onto tankers and sold on the open market most likely China. So what's coming here right now is being refined here and more than likely used here. There is another phase that would tie Alberta directly to Oklahoma in one straight shot but that is the 4th and final phase if this gets built at all.
So why all the fuss? First there was the cost overruns. What was to cost $2.5 billion soon turned into over $5 billion. And this doesn't include the law suits for the overruns.
Second is the reputations oil companies have with spill response. Not so good after the Deepwater Horizon spill. And even though the companies have said they have cleaned up their act there is still not much change in the way they operate. It's still a matter of using what amounts to paper towels to do the job. Oil absorbent pads have not changed in 40 years.
Thirdly you have the type of oil coming through the line. It's tar sands oil the most corrosive of all petroleum products and much thicker than light sweet crude. Cleaning it up would take a bit more work and is actually more toxic.
Forth, no one could calculate accurately the amount of damage to either the environment or to human health when a spill happens and we know it will.
Fifth, exactly how many jobs would be created? I've heard estimates between 6 and 12 thousand employed after which maintenance crews are very limited in numbers, a few hundred at most. It would take less than 18 months to complete if that. Well paying but temporary jobs.
Lastly the only ones who would benefit from such a pipeline would be the oil companies because they would be the ones profiting with fees to Canada for it's use. States lose because have waved the property taxes on the line. And America as a whole doesn't benefit because the oil is sold on the open market. And stop to think who gets stuck with the whole bill when there's a spill?
But this won't stop the Harper government and the Canadian oil companies from forging ahead. Harper is after all nothing more than a Canadian republican and is following their playbook. They are set to build yet another line from Alberta to British Columbia so that they can ship oil directly to China. They've even loosened environmental regulations to speed things up. This is much to the dismay of the locals, First Nations tribes, and the BC government who get little benefit in the deal and all the clean up responsibilities.