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By Robert Rapier on Mar 5, 2013 with 67 responses

Why Environmentalists are Wrong on Keystone XL

If not for the US government’s latest demonstration of incompetence that played out at the end of last week (a.k.a. sequestration), the top news story might have been a report issued by the US State Department late Friday.

The report was the Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL Pipeline project, and it was unwelcome news for environmentalists who have been protesting the crude pipeline extension that would link Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

It may seem arbitrary, given the large number of oil and gas pipelines that already criss-cross the US, that this particular one has generated such a high profile debate around energy security and the environment. But this debate isn’t really about a pipeline. This pipeline isn’t going to make or break the development of Canada’s oil sands, nor — as I will show here — is it going to make a measurable difference with respect to climate change.

(Related: How Much Oil Does the World Produce?)

The truth is that the Keystone XL pipeline is symbolic. The environmental movement sees the pipeline as a continuation of a fossil-fuel dependent lifestyle that is leading to a climate catastrophe. Pipeline supporters argue that the pipeline will create jobs and strengthen our relationship with Canada, our most important source of oil imports. The truth is that it isn’t that big of a deal either way.

State Department Findings

The newly-released SEIS reads very much like the “final” EIS that the State Department released in August 2011, and once more environmentalists are in an uproar. The problem, as I see it, is that they are making emotional arguments, which aren’t necessarily effective against a technical assessment. When you “do the math,” it becomes clear that their focus on this project is a misallocation of resources. They are consuming political capital fighting the wrong battle.

According to the new SEIS, “Approval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.”

Further, the report considered alternate scenarios. Without pipeline routes to move the crude from the oil sands in Alberta, the oil would be moved by rail, it concluded. Because there is a higher cost associated with rail, the report projected slightly lower production by 2030: “the incremental increase in cost of the non-pipeline transport options could result in a decrease in production from the oil sands, perhaps 90,000 to 210,000 bpd (approximately 2 to 4 percent) by 2030.”

On the other hand, if some of the other pipeline projects that are under development go forward, the decrease in production by 2030 is projected to be a more modest 20,000 to 30,000 bpd if Keystone XL is denied.

How significant are these numbers? Even if the largest production shortfall of 210,000 bpd is realized — and presuming the supply wouldn’t simply be developed elsewhere — this only amounts to 0.2 percent of current global oil demand.

Further, because global carbon dioxide emissions are actually dominated by coal consumption, the savings in carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere would amount to only 0.07 percent of current global carbon dioxide emissions. (That’s a straightforward calculation based on the carbon dioxide emitted by 210,000 bpd divided by global carbon dioxide emissions according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy). How small is that? That level of contribution wouldn’t even be measurable above the background noise of global temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations. It is certainly smaller than the margin of error in measuring global carbon dioxide. No matter how you slice it — even assuming that stopping Keystone will forever keep the entire capacity in the ground — you can’t reach even a hypothetical savings of 0.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Environmentalists Respond with Emotional Pleas

How did environmentalists respond to the report’s findings? By denying the findings, rationalizing, and appealing to emotions.

For example, prominent environmental activist Bill McKibben — who has led many of the protests against the pipeline — said “Groundhog Day — we’re hearing the same rehashed arguments from the State Department about why a great threat to the climate is not a threat at all. Mother Nature filed her comments last year — the hottest year in American history.”

That is an appeal to the emotions, not an argument based on the technical merits (or lack thereof).

(Related: Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions — Facts and Figures)

Next to McKibben, NASA scientist James Hansen is probably the leading opponent of the pipeline. His response to the SEIS findings was “To say that the tar sands have little climate impact is an absurdity. The total carbon in tar sands exceeds that in all oil burned in human history.”

That is another emotional argument, and a bit of misdirection because his second sentence has no bearing on the first. The total carbon in tar sands does in fact exceed all oil burned in history. But a very small fraction of that will ever be economically recoverable. The total oil in place (OIP) in Canada’s oil sands amounts to 1.8 trillion barrels. However, the amount that can be economically produced — the reserve — is only 170 billion barrels.

Why are Keystone XL opponents resorting to such arguments? Because as the SEIS showed, their arguments fall apart on the technical merits.

A paper from the University of British Columbia calculated that burning the entire Athabasca reserve could raise global temperatures by 0.03°C. If you could actually burn all the oil in place, the calculated global temperature rise could be as great as 0.50°C. But, and this is a very big BUT — even if Canada could grow its oil production from the current levels of 3.5 million bpd up to the 10 million bpd levels of Saudi Arabia and Russia, it would take 500 years to produce that much oil. If we are still relying heavily on oil in hundreds of years it is probably safe to assume that we survived the climate catastrophe.

Other environmentalists have taken issue with the notion that the railroads are capable of transporting large volumes of oil. Susan Casey-Lefkowitz from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said “Rail doesn’t appear to be an alternative for the quantities that will be transported by Keystone XL.”

That’s sort of like arguing that airplanes can’t fly as one passes overhead. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has reported that the US has already seen shipments by rail — which is a more carbon intensive method of transport than pipelines — grow over the past five years from near zero to over 1 million bpd. That is more than the capacity of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Canada is projected to triple deliveries by rail this year. Should we really believe that Canada can’t rapidly grow their rail shipments of oil, just as we have done in the US? The SEIS also noted that there are 48,000 rail cars on backorder in North America.

The Canadian government isn’t looking at this emotionally. Canada’s natural resources are a major source of revenue for the country. The Canadian government is going to do everything in its power to foster development of those resources. To think that those resources will remain in the ground in the face of strong global demand is naive.

Which brings me to an important point.

Whether Keystone is or isn’t approved, the real story here is the world’s growing demand for oil. Trying to restrict oil supplies — which is what Keystone XL opponents are attempting to do — is futile when global demand for oil continues to grow. Bill McKibben demonstrated this point himself when he said “One of the great ironies of my life is that I have a carbon footprint the size of a small Indian village.” If McKibben himself can’t get by without fossil fuels, why do we expect others to be able to do so? Also keep in mind that small Indian village would like the same mobility that the developed world enjoys, and is consuming more oil to achieve that goal.

And as long as the world demands oil, the crude will find a way to market. The only way to stop it is to curb demand, not try to cut off supplies. The war on drugs demonstrates every day the futility of that approach.

Conclusion

My point here is not to bash pipeline opponents. I understand their motivation, and I know that they believe they are engaged in the most noble of causes. I understand their desire to get involved and “do something” about climate change. Nor am I trying to bash Bill McKibben. Mutual friends have assured me that I would like him a lot if I met him (but they also tell me that he would never consent to allowing me to interview him about the technical merits of his arguments). I just think he — and the other protestors — are being naive in choosing this particular battle. They won’t make any meaningful impact on climate change even if they manage to stop Keystone XL. The reason that is important is that they could be channeling their energy into things that could potentially make a difference.

Some might argue “Well, at least they are trying to solve the problem.” But this particular issue would be like me going down to the beach as a hurricane is incoming and yelling for it to go away. I could organize protests against the hurricane (and get myself arrested in the process for my noble cause), and make emotional pleas that we can’t afford more hurricanes. But most people would recognize that I am wasting time and resources that could be better spent in more productive pursuits.

The reason many Keystone XL opponents have yet to come to this conclusion is that they are still convinced that yelling at the hurricane can make it change course. It can’t, but there are actually effective things that could be done to mitigate the impact of hurricanes. (See last week’s column How Oil Can Improve Our Long Term Energy Situation). But they won’t be pursued as long as people are convinced that shouting at the hurricane is making a difference.

(Edited to add that the Washington Post — not exactly a bastion of Conservatives — agrees with me: Environmentalists are fighting the wrong battles).

Link to Original Article: Why Environmentalists are Wrong on Keystone XL

By Robert Rapier

  1. By windy2 on March 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Reason, science and math are no match for religious beliefs of KXL opposition thatbthink it means “game over for the planet”. Even though KXL represents .000000001% as much increase in CO2 emissions as will be seen by Asian Pacific nations in 2013, KXL opposition embraces the dogma that the pipeline is the threat rather than Asian Pacific growth.

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  2. By Roy on March 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    A very well written article. I believe in protecting the environment, but opposition to Keystone XL truly is symbolic, and I often wondered why environmentalists were so hell bent on expending political capital to go after it. Although I believe global warming is real, it makes very little difference to the planet if Chinese refineries run those barrels instead of Gulf Coast refineries… If environmentalists really want to make a difference, they can go after the Canadian government for supporting oil sands development or move to China and yell at the coal hurricane… On the plus side, 10 ppm sulfur fuel specs look to be moving forward both here and in China, and those regulations will actually have a positive effect on the environment.

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  3. By Jibby on March 6, 2013 at 5:10 am

    This is a well-written and reasoned argument, however, it could be written for almost any oil or fossil fuel project in the world. I guess that is sort of your point – dancing around the “Tragedy of the Commons” situation where the individual (or country) is incentivized to keep producing/consuming at the expense of the global population’s well-being These small local costs slowly add up to immeasurably large global costs, but no one has the local incentive to do anything about it.

    This information is not news for those protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. The article suggests that the real problem is demand; well, you can’t protest every person filling up at the gas station. These people are trying to make a political statement and I’m sure many of them have an end goal of curbing demand in mind. By bringing publicity to this fight, they are raising general awareness of the climate problem (on a global scale) and maybe, just maybe, these types of protests will increase to the point that demand-curbing legislation such as carbon taxes are introduced.

    Of course, you can’t control what China does (other than through tariffs), but the US can control what it does…

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    • By Ed_Reid on March 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      …, though to no meaningful effect globally.

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      • By Jibby on March 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

        Ah, I see. So, what you are saying is: basically no one can do anything. If you believe the second largest GHG emitting country in the world can have no meaningful effect globally, then what are we even talking about? Let’s just pack up our bags and go home.

        Coming from Canada, my country actually has no meaningful effect globally, but if you cared to read the first paragraph of my post, you would see that I am arguing that even countries with a minimal global impact should put forth an attempt to do something. Otherwise we are pretty much doomed (and I’m starting to believe the ship has already pulled up it’s anchor on that one).

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        • By Ed_Reid on March 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

          China’s emissions are growing at ~9% per year. To offset that fate of growth, the US would have to reduce its emissions at a rate of ~14% per year, based on the two countries relative annual emissions. US emissions reductions at that rate would likely drive more US industry to Asia, further increasing the rate of growth of Asian emissions.

          It is not possible to solve a global problem locally. However, please feel free to reduce your personal emissions just as quickly as you can. The impact of your actions would have no meaningful, or even measurable, impact on the global situation, but I’m sure you’d feel better about yourself.

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          • By Jibby on March 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

            And why do you assert the US, by itself, has to offset the entirety of Chinese emissions gains? It’s also not possible to solve a global problem by doing nothing.

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            • By Ed_Reid on March 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

              Simply indicating scale. The first logical step in reducing global annual emissions of CO2 would be to stop increasing global annual CO2 emissions, which are rising primarily in Asia.

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            • By Jibby on March 11, 2013 at 5:59 am

              Reducing global annual CO2 emissions is not the first step, it is the end goal. First steps have already been made and much larger steps need to be taken if that end goal is to be achieved in time.

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            • By Ed_Reid on March 11, 2013 at 8:15 am

              Try reading the comment carefully before reacting to it.

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            • By Jibby on March 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm

              My apologies for the clumsy wording. Please replace the word “Reducing” with “Stopping the increase of (and eventually reducing)”. Otherwise, the comment still stands.

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            • By Ed_Reid on March 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

              What is the “end goal”, expressed in percentage reduction from current, or in annual emissions? What is the plan to achieve the goal? What is the timeline for achieving the goal?

              As far as I can see, there is no unique, broadly accepted goal, plan or timeline. The widely discussed 2C “wish” could not actually be a goal, because it could not be controlled to.

              If you believe Ottmar Edenhoffer of the UN / IPCC, the goal is actually to redistribute wealth and income.

              “You’ve got to be careful, if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might end up someplace else.”, Yogi Berra, American Philosopher

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            • By TimC on March 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

              We were first told that the end goal was to halt global warming. Later, the end goal changed to climate change mitigation. Is CO2 emission reduction the latest end goal? If so, what is the point, other than wealth redistribution?

              On the other hand, if the end goal is still climate change mitigation, how will we know when we’ve reached the goal? What measurable metrics will tell us that our expensive carbon control schemes have worked, that we have successfully stabilized the climate?

              If the point is to redistribute wealth, then the ideal end goal is one that can never be reached, so that the redistribution goes on forever. As justification for wealth redistribution through public control of private industry, climate change mitigation is an excellent end goal, because we will never be able to say that we’ve achieved it.

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            • By Ed_Reid on March 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm

              A goal is something which can be measured and controlled to, using the technology we have available. An “x” percent reduction in the emissions of a given “pollutant” from a defined starting point, over a defined period of time, is a goal which can be controlled to. Limiting the globe to a specific temperature increase cannot be controlled directly, but only through some identified relationship to some other issue, such as maximum global CO2 concentration. Unfortunately, we lack any such identified relationship.

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            • By Jibby on March 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm

              The climate change version of the Gish Gallop?

              What “first steps have already been taken”?
              - IPCC, Kyoto Protocol, Scientific research of global warming and climate change, renewable energy programs, regional carbon taxes, regional cap and trade programs, energy efficiency programs, information dissemination and public understanding, etc., etc.

              What “much larger steps need to be taken”?
              - I am not going to pretend I know all the answers, but clearly a scaling up of several of the above is something that needs to be done, energy storage technology needs to be advanced, global solutions need to be implemented.

              What is the “end goal”, expressed in percentage reduction from current, or in annual emissions?
              - Well, you mentioned the 2C, which is pretty much no longer possible. The end goal is to not collapse the world’s ecosystem – there are many scenarios that have been published. There is some uncertainty. Depending on how we choose to act, we will likely follow one of those scenarios (right now we are following the one marked “worst case”).

              What is the plan to achieve the goal? What is the timeline for achieving the goal?
              - There are many plans and timelines published online for your reading pleasure.

              Since you like Yogi Berra quotes, here are a few more:
              “It gets late early out there”
              “The future ain’t what it used to be”

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            • By Ed_Reid on March 13, 2013 at 4:51 pm

              What you apparently fail to understand is that knowing the end point is critical to evaluating the steps required to achieve it. For example, if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 50%, replacing coal-fired electric generation with natural gas combined cycle generation is a great way to go, combined with as much renewable energy as can be afforded. However, if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 100%, natural gas is not an acceptable alternative, absent 100% effective CCS. Also, if 100% reduction is the goal, hybrid vehicles and increased CAFE standards are a waste of time and money.

              a transition to a zero carbon emissions US economy would require the investment of ~$30 trillion, if we do it right the first time. It could be substantially more if we make incremental investments in facilities and equipment which are not on the path to the ultimate solution.

              “Predictions are very hard, especially about the future.”, Yogi Berra, American philosopher.

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            • By Jibby on March 14, 2013 at 6:41 am

              Hey, finally we agree on something! Yes, deciding on an end point is important, as is putting together a credible plan to reach that point with the necessary flexibility for such an uncertain and long-term undertaking.

              If the goal is, say, 100% carbon free by 2075, then it could still be reasonable to continue to build natural gas generation and to use hybrid vehicles in a transitional fashion.

              I’m not sure where you get the $30T number from, but that level of investment, while massive, is conceivable. For example, at current spending levels, the US will part with ~$30T on the military over the next ~40 years.

              Thank you for an interesting discussion. I think we have veered somewhat away from the Keystone XL topic, so I will leave it at that.

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    • By Michael Kirby on March 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      It’s interesting you should use China. Since much of its industrial output is for export consumption, in fact, China’s emissions are our emissions.

      I call this the “California Effect” when California passed stricter emissions rules for electrical power plans, producers built plants in neighboring Nevada where the restrictions were less.

      The end result is that California got fewer jobs and the emissions were just as high (or higher) as before.

      Unless the U.S. went with a carbon tax on manufactured goods regardless of where they were produced, there is no U.S. way to deal with this issue. It is fundamentally a global problem.

      And the point isn’t to just say “do nothing because it doen’t matter”. The point is focus on the global issue, use the political and economic capitol to solve that problem. Sometimes “thinking globally, acting locally” doesn’t do anything.

      Mike

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  4. By Edward Kerr on March 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Robert,

    As always you make a ‘logical’ case that the pipeline won’t, in the big picture, make the slightest difference to our climate conundrum and you are correct, it won’t. Even if we quit burning fossil fuels, somehow magically. today we have already set in motion positive feedback loops that will continue to warm the planet regardless. Though, as you note, the resistance is as emotional one, it is the correct one. Demand shows that the world will burn every drop of oil that it can until we all go into that dark night.
    http://arctic-news.blogspot.co.uk/p/global-extinction-within-one-human.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ina16XSJQvM

    I know that many people still deny that burning fossil fuels is harmful but I defy anyone to follow just these two, let alone the myriad other sources out there, and come back with a solid, non-emotional, objective and scientifically accurate rebuttal.
    Regards,

    Ed

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  5. By ben on March 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Setting aside the ramifications of Say’s Law (the theory where “supply creates its own demand”) for the moment, the objective for the Greeners remains a tricky one; demand destruction by way of public policy vs. market forces. Let’s face it, it’s practically impossible to achieve a reduction in global demand when we are witnessing Lesser Developed Countries transitioning into 21st century giants, even as the west navigates initial stages of a post-industrial transition.

    The political reality in all this is pretty apparent; democratic governments will always cater to consumer preferences (read: voter pocketbook) with its instinctive bias toward lower costs and higher standards of living. The real challenge for the Greeners appears to be contemporary values–What constitutes our personal/social “good?” On this note, some might argue that never the twain shall meet. I’m not sure. I do sense that any systemic change in consumer behavior turns on an understanding of true/total costs. And on that note, we might do well to embrace the facts not jingoistic appeals to emotionalism/wishful thinking. We must aim for a strategy based on real-world incentives combined with no-nonsense analysis about resource depletion and environmental impacts. I believe that’s what RR has been arguing in missives from his hardship post among the Pacific islands (a potential disqualification, perhaps, if not for those lofty, local energy costs:).

    Some increasingly argue that EROEI offers a pivot point of sorts for debate about where to invest some (if any) of the public treasury toward a framework that aims toward greater energy security, commercial competitiveness and economic sustainability. The rub here may, however, be a fundamental disagreement about the merits of economic “growth” –or at least growth for the developed world vis-a-vis that of underdeveloped nations of Africa and Asia. If political dynamics harden around perceptions of a zero-sum game between competing goals/requirements of respective sides in this debate, well, we will continue the muddle that has characterized our progress in the past.

    As we move beyond the 40th anniversary of Limits to Growth, we’d probably do well to examine the essence of growth to determine if Classical Economics does full justice to an evaluation of the subject. In posing such an assessment, I’m reminded of the old line from Harry Truman who in his frustration pleaded to his staff “send me a one-armed economist!” given the penchant on the part of his economic advisors to offer: “Well,
    Mr. President, on the other hand……”

    We must find a North Star in all this hand-wringing. The facts–not our own version, but what objective/consensus analysis actually yields–is a mighty good place to start. We thank the editor here for his non-negotiable commitment to, in the words of Sergeant Friday, “Just that facts, sir, just the facts.”

    Ben

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  6. By ADALop on March 6, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Interestingly, I have found a few references recently to the rather opaque financial backing of McKibben and 350.org. Here’s the latest:



    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/02/14/rockefellers-behind-scruffy-little-outfit/

    

Not that 350.org or MicKibben are hiding anything–more that the group is quietly passing itself as a grassroots org when it is clearly not. It’s tempting to go down the rabbit hole of investigating corporate-backed foundations and their possible motivations, but you often just come out with a whiff of conspiracy nutjob about you, and not really knowing much more than when you started.



    The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is but one of many of these foundations, and it’s important not to underestimate the degree to which they influence and set policy in the US and worldwide. Much like the anti-nuclear protests of the 80′s onward, the anti-tar sands and pro-renewables movements have had a rather disturbing effect of preempting rational discussion of energy policy and fanning the emotional and reactionary kinds of protests we’re seeing over KXL. Whether this effect is intentional of not, the fact remains that there is indeed a huge waste of time, money, and energy going towards fighting these “symbolic” battles. Meanwhile the US (and the EU, Australia, etc.) still lacks any policy other than business-as-usual: unlimited growth, unlimited consumer consumption, subsidies, picking-of-winners, and reliance on new technological fixes to solve the problems that the old technological fixes have caused.

    Virtually all of my environmentalist friends see 350.org as doing only good, not understanding that they are participating in a system that relies upon their naïveté in order to thwart real progress towards real solutions to the issues of energy supply, destruction of natural systems, and climate change.

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    • By Adrienne Adams on March 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      The above post is mine, Disqus failed to log me in correctly.

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  7. By Pieter Siegers on March 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Robert, it’s funny to see you are wasting a lot of energy trying to get oil moving forward but on the long run you will see that as renewables are in fact driving down energy costs they will grow and grow and grow, and your grey intentions will only increase your own bad consciousness. Big dirty oil is about to be an ending filthy story, the sooner we see that appear in our history books, the better for all of us.

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      This is the kind of nonsensical, emotional argument that appeals to Keystone opponents. Don’t address any data, just appeal to emotions. For the record, I work in the renewable energy business. I have written numerous articles on getting off of oil. Why on earth would you think I am “trying to get oil moving forward?” Just because you have no rebuttal to my arguments?

      For the record, my conscience is fine. I spend every day working on solutions. I also spend time pointing out when people are wasting time that would be better spent on other solutions. In this case, the whole point is to show why the protestors will have minimal impact on carbon emissions. You obviously perceived something different, but your perceptions are wrong.

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  8. By Tom G. on March 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Well it has been awhile since you have seen my name so it must be time to post something.

    Starting today I am going to promote something new. I am going to start saying; forget Global Warming or Climate Change [GW&CC] and just think “clean air and water”
    instead. After all isn’t that really the end result of all of our energy efficiency, conservation, solar, wind, bio-fuels, natural gas vs coal vs oil and every other strategy including electric vehicles and hybrids is all about?

    I am now fully convinced that NO ONE understands all of the contributing factors to GW&CC and our current mathematical models are just toys in comparison to what is
    actually needed. And all of this talk about CO2 is well – nothing more than a bunch bull if you ask me. Wait a minute, don’t pounce on me yet – I am not saying it isn’t a contributing factor to GW&CC but I am beginning to seriously doubt if it is the most SIGNIFICANT contributing factor. It just happens to be the ONE contributing factor we seemed to have jumped on at the time and studied it. I now believe that collectively as a society and scientific community we haven’t yet understood all of the contributing factors and assigned a value to each factor.

    For example, I was recently doing some research on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion [OTEC] systems when it dawned on me that messing around with our oceans thermal gradients might not be a good idea since our livelihood depends on our oceans. However, when a friend reminded me that we were NOT actually adding heat by using OTEC process but rather REMOVING the heat from the ocean since the oceans heat was being converted to electrical energy to be used on-shore there was no problem. Oh my goodness, isn’t that like talking apples and oranges at the same time.

    Anyway I have long believed that all of the waste heat we are creating is having an effect on our climate and it now appears others are beginning to agree. For example, go to the
    below link and read some of the materials. If you don’t have time it basically says this. Waste heat from our cities is affecting our climate up to 1,000 miles away.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Cities'+waste+heat+affects+air&rlz=1C1AVSX_enUS414US430&oq=Cities'+waste+heat+affects+air&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    When I think of this pipelines contribution to GW&CC I think of things like:
    1. The physical mining of the feed-stock
    2. The diesel fuel and natural gas to run the operation
    3. The carbon produced to manufacture the steel for the trucks and mining equipment.
    4. The carbon produced to manufacture and weld the pipe at the factory.
    5. The diesel fuel to run the pipeline digging and welding equipment in the field and the workers transportation to get there and on and on with hundreds of other contributing factors.

    If I were in a position to influencing environmental groups I would start talking a lot about “clean air and water” instead of trying to stop the oil from flowing from Canada to U.S. refineries. Because the pipeline is just not going to be a significant contributor to GW&CC, it just isn’t. Not only that; there are far more significant problems we need to be
    working on which are far easier to solve. Besides some of the more exotic and big stuff like battery technology and cheap energy storage for wind turbines and solar, here are a couple of simple things I think would have a far bigger impact on reducing carbon.

    1. We need to be working with appliance manufactures to produce Energy Star electric and gas dryers that use outside air to dry our clothes instead of inside air. Did you know
    that our current batch of MILLIONS of home and industrial clothes dryers use the air from INSIDE our homes to dry clothes. You know, the air we have purified to breath and have paid hard earned money to heat or cool – that is the air we are using. Creating an Energy Star dryer would not only save every homeowner or apartment dweller money
    every time they used their dryer, it would also contribute to cleaner “clean air and water” since less energy would need to be produced.

    2. If you currently live in one of the MILLIONS of homes that have the air ducts installed in the walls or attic of your home you are throwing away at least 20% of your heating
    and cooling dollars. Heating and cooling ducts are only insulated to R-6 and of course are prone to leaking. Yet we put them into attics that are 150 F in the summer and 25 F in the winter. Attics get insulated to R-40; why not put the aid ducts inside the building
    envelope. Isn’t that what you are trying to heat or cool anyway. And please, don’t even get me started talking about the poor efficiency of our air conditioners and heat pumps. We are still producing, selling and installing 14 SEER junk in America.

    While the above 2 items have almost nothing to do with this oil pipelines they do show that what we need to do is to identify all of the contributing factors and rate their contribution before we know which battles are important. Or to put it another way; every energy form we use contributes to GW&CC and is preventing us from enjoying “cleaner air and water”. In my not so humble opinion, the fight over this pipeline is the wrong battle at the wrong time. The way to WIN the oil battle is to eliminate the NEED for oil, not by trying to PREVENT its use.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this posting.

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  9. By Kyle Sager on March 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Here is my problem with this blog post. Unless you disagree with the need to build towards a future that deliberately shifts away from fossil fuels, then public arguments like this confuse the issues and distract from a core premise: Symbolic actions matter a lot. What would you have done had you been in Montgomery Alabama in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger? When the situation became confrontational and you were sitting right there on that bus two seats away, what would you have said? …Would you have said, “She should sit down. She’s going to get hurt. This is like ‘shouting at a hurricane.’? What good is this going to do?”

    Now, 50,000 protesters in a concerted demonstration comprising the largest collection of environmental groups EVER assembled together in the United States…They just drew a line in the sand. Your response is to blog as publicly as you can via Christian Science Monitor, “Your methods are ineffective. You are all wasting your time…Because I’ve been such an active advocate for the most controversial human causes. I know better than you. Hey folks, don’t these environmentalists look kind’ve silly?” That is basically what you just did.

    The Keystone XL is about a lot of things. It is about some of the dirties filthiest oil on the planet. It is about using a whole barrel of oil just to get 2 1/2 more paltry barrels of usable product back out. It is about destroying the Boreal Forest for no good reason. It is about a pushy Canadian Corporation seizing American Citizens’ land from Nebraska to Texas just because it wants to before it even has approval from the U.S. government to cross the border. It is about oil that won’t even be used primarily in the United States. It is about 48 national leaders in the environmental movement, including the son of Bobby Kennedy, assembling in civil disobedience 4 days before mass protest and willingly getting themselves arrested.

    …And you use your platform to say, “Pfft. They’re just shouting into a hurricane. This is a waste of time.”

    If your intent is to stall the climate movement, your obfuscation is nominally effective at best. If you believe climate change is a problem, then your post here is nominally counterproductive and you defeat yourself.

    Gandhi disarmed the British Empire with a movement that began with simple symbolic actions such as burning paper IDs and picking up a small clump of salt on the beach in his diminutive fist.

    If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem; but rest assured, one way or another, Americans are going to change the way they do things. They must. It is no longer an option. The only question now is how fast we move, whether we move with an appropriate sense of urgency or needlessly further exacerbate the damage to our children’s world.

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      “What would you have done had you been in Montgomery Alabama in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger?”

      Bad analogy, because you presume that this is what the Keystone protests are like. They are not. It’s more like some guy in India refuses to give up his seat in the name of civil rights in America. The world yawns in response, and the status quo continues. You see Rosa Parks because that’s what you wish to believe. This is what the protestors have been led to believe. That’s why crunching numbers is important. We can see that this is not Rosa Parks. So what are we left with? Appeals to emotion.

      “Now, 50,000 protesters in a concerted demonstration comprising the largest collection of environmental groups EVER assembled together in the United States…They just drew a line in the sand.”

      So, the number of protesters is an indication of the justness of their cause? The Tea Party mobilized a lot of passionate people to march on DC as well. Do you think their cause is silly? No, they drew a line in the sand, as you say. But that doesn’t mean they are right.

      “It is about 48 national leaders in the environmental movement, including the son of Bobby Kennedy, assembling in civil disobedience 4 days before mass protest and willingly getting themselves arrested.”

      Again, see Tea Party analogy. Arguments from authority do not impress me. Arguments are based on data do.

      …And you use your platform to say, “Pfft. They’re just shouting into a hurricane. This is a waste of time.”

      I don’t say it. I SHOW why that is the case based on the numbers. In response, your argument is basically “The symbolism of having a massive number of people, including famous people, shouting at hurricanes is important, even if it can be shown to be ineffective.”

      “If your intent is to stall the climate movement, your obfuscation is nominally effective at best.”

      My intent is to have the climate movement stop wasting time and political capital on things that can be shown will not make a difference to climate and spend it on things that will.

      “If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem”

      It is also possible to think you are part of the solution, when your actions don’t make any material difference to the solution. In that case, it is important to highlight why you are only fooling yourself into believing you are part of the solution, so that you might redirect your efforts into being part of the solution.

      You want a prediction? If Keystone opponents succeed in shutting down the pipeline, in 20 years they will wonder why global carbon emissions continued to climb. They are being misled into thinking this will have a big impact. At worst, it could make the situation worse by having Canada redouble their efforts to move the oil out by rail. That is already happening, which is a development that the Keystone protestors have ignored.

      RR

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    • By Michael Kirby on March 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      I understand the goal, I really do.

      But what’s the alternative to not building the pipeline. Right now, the current policy the united states has is one of mixed investment. We invest in oil, gas, coal, but also in solar, wind, geothermal, etc.

      So when we protest the pipeline, are we saying we should ban all oil production and importation? That certainly would send a message.

      How about baning the importation of .59 Million barrels per day of oil (or let’s say 1 Million to deal with the fact that XL oil is dirty).

      Would it be okay to build it then, because we are offsetting Venezuelan or Brazilian crude for Canadian Crude? (and everyone knows Canadian’s are cooler).

      Not building the pipeline and instead building wind turbines isn’t an even trade, because our transportation market isn’t electrified.

      Work the policy! Then you sound reasonable, and people will listen to you.

      Right now you sound a little whiney, and that’s a problem for liberally leaning moderates like myself.

      Mike

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    • By Jake Millan on March 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Kyle, the problem is that it’s currently economically viable, and where there’s a buck to be made, people will develop. This is where your strategy needs to start, and something I believe and RR has mentioned numerous times; a petroleum tax while simultaneously approving the pipeline.
      As a recent MIT study concluded a tax on petroleum is way more effective at reducing petroleum consumption rather than improving mpg standards in cars.
      As someone mentioned above, there is a lack of understanding with most people about how oil markets work and the difference between renewable electricity and the non-impact that has in our 96% petroleum based transportation sector.
      What really gets me though is when protestors travel via petroleum and then hold up plastic (made from petroleum) pipeline effigies all while advocating for less petroleum… Doesn’t make sense when you look at it. The war on drugs analogy is spot on RR.

      Great piece.

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  10. By tpcowberry on March 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    How can we have a lengthy article concerning the environmental issues surrounding Keystone XL, with no mention that the proposal involves a pressurized, 36-inch-wide steel tube buried only 48 inches deep, carrying a highly toxic substance across the top of the Ogallala Aquifer?

    The unrefined extract from oil sand isn’t like the crude oil we’re familiar with. It’s far more toxic. Read up on the spreading freshwater contamination problems that Canadian is already having in its production areas.

    Suppose there were a pipe rupture over the Ogallala Aquifer. What could be done to remedy that? It could quickly become a major disaster, contaminating the entire region’s water supply. The pipeline could be terrorist’s dream come true…

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      How do farmers today dump millions of pounds of pesticides and herbicides on top of the same aquifer? How do cities exist on top of it without contaminating it? It’s because it isn’t as easily contaminated as people imagine.

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      • By tpcowberry on March 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm

        Widely used pesticides and herbicides are generally designed not to have long-term persistence in the natural environment. Their molecules break down over time. This is not so with the toxins present in oil sands.

        The possibility of pipe breaks and spills seems to me like a legitimate concern.

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        • By Robert Rapier on March 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm

          Not true. Roundup, as just one example, has a half-life in water of more than a month. The reason we don’t see it in the aquifer is that it is hard to reach the aquifer.

          “The possibility of pipe breaks and spills seems to me like a legitimate concern.”

          Of course. One also has to consider alternatives. Right now, transportation of oil by rail is growing exponentially. That is both a more carbon intensive and less safe way to transport it.

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      • By Wayne Lankenau on February 2, 2014 at 7:32 pm

        you are an ass, farmers in Nebraska don’t use toxins over the Aquifer because the water table is so high and easily contaminated. Unlike the Koch Brothers who dump benzene waste in the gulf cause it’s cheaper than disposing of it legally. I am wondering if the bi-product waste cola that the koch bother refinery will have to dispose of will have the same polluted fate

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        • By Robert Rapier on February 2, 2014 at 9:00 pm

          “you are an ass”

          Do that again and I will delete all your posts. If you post here, you will do it in a civil manner. That’s the only warning you get.

          “farmers in Nebraska don’t use toxins over the Aquifer because the water table is so high and easily contaminated.”

          Completely untrue. There is farming over the entire aquifer. Farmers are putting herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers down on the ground above that aquifer. I know some of them. There are cities on top of it. The reason they don’t contaminate the aquifer is that pollutants are dispersed and never make it into the water table.

          “Unlike the Koch Brothers who dump benzene waste in the gulf cause it’s cheaper than disposing of it legally.”

          You want to support that in some way? I mean, that would be the bombshell of all bombshells if you can show that the Koch Brothers are illegally dumping benzene in the gulf. Otherwise, it sounds like defamation.

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  11. By Jason Aramburu on March 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Robert, is there a strong reason to believe that only the reserve 170 billion barrels will ever be tapped? 50 years ago it probably seemed ludicrous that we could one day cost-effectively extract any oil from tar sands, or frack gas from the Eagle Ford. Now, technology and rising commodity prices have made these both possible and highly profitable. Won’t this trend continue over the next two decades and enable oil companies to tap significantly more of the total OIP?

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Jason, that is an argument to be made, but there is also the matter of how fast that oil could be produced. I have seen nobody suggest that Canada could grow to rival production in Saudi Arabia, but if they did it would take 500 years to produce the oil in place. If we haven’t found a solution long before that, then there really is no hope.

      So again, both the amount that is being produced and the speed at which it can be produced indicate what a tiny issue Keystone really is.

      Incidentally, thanks for the civil comments. I am getting emails and some comments that are very emotional and not too civil, which is exactly what I have been talking about. This is largely an emotional debate.

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    • By Daniel Lerch on March 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Yes, because of the abysmal EROI of the tar sands that will be left after the first ~140 billion barrels are produced. The EROI of upgraded bitumen is already abysmally low (which, in my mind, is reason enough to oppose their production given the local/regional environmental and social impacts): http://www.scribd.com/doc/126063765/Drill-Baby-Drill-Can-Unconventional-Fuels-Usher-in-a-New-Era-of-Energy-Abundance#page=125

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  12. By Robert Rapier on March 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks to all for the engaging discussion thus far. I am leaving for the airport soon, and will have no Internet until probably Tuesday. Therefore, if I don’t respond right away you know why.

    Cheers, RR

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  13. By Tom on March 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Well, I live in Nebraska, Ground Zero for the fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline and this post of Reobert’s does not address the main reason people in this state were agianst the pipeline. People here are very concerned about their water, namely the Ogallala Aquifer, and pipeline leaks. Now, if you ask people like the Koch brothers, they’ll tell you pipeline leaks don’t amount to nothing. But if you are not an expert on the pipeline industry, an interesting expose can be found in Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston’s book The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind (David Cay Johnston is a tax writer) – he has a whole chapter on the pipeline business. It’s unbelieveable what that industry gets away with. Anyway, the majority of people in this state against the pipeline just wanted it moved away from the aquifer, unlike activists from other parts of the country.

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 6, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Tom, I didn’t address it here, but I have in the past. I always thought this worry was overblown for two reasons. First, pipelines already criss-cross the Ogallala and have for many years. If pipelines are bound to leak — and they do certainly leak from time to time — there should have already been an incident of contamination.

      Second, think about how many herbicides and pesticides farmers dump onto the ground above the aquifer every year. If it was that easy to contaminate it, it would be contaminated all the time.

      Cheers, Robert

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    • By GreenEngineer on March 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      The big problem with the Ogallala is that it is being drawn down heavily and it is not recharging. (Yes, we are growing the majority of our grain using ancient water.) There seems to be very little flow from contemporary rainfall to the aquifer – while this is a problem in terms of aquifer recharge, it does mean that the aquifer is likely safe from contamination (either from oil spills, or from agricultural runoff, per R^2′s point below). Surface water, of course, is still vulnerable (to both sources of contamination).

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      • By Rate Crrimes on March 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

        The issue has more to do with local contamination of the geology through which the water is drawn than with the contamination of the aquifer itself. If your child’s soiled diaper falls into your chocolate malt will you tend to shrug it off even if the straw is long?

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        • By Robert Rapier on March 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

          Bad analogy, because in that case whatever is seeping out of the diaper is still getting to you. In the case of Ogalla, that clearly isn’t the case or the water would constantly contain herbicides and pesticides.

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          • By GreenEngineer on March 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm

            Rate Crime’s point is that the contamination is going to be found locally, because it will occur when drawing up water through locally-contaminated layers, but not elsewhere if the path to the surface is clean. Certainly it’s not uncommon in ag country to find well that have been contaminated, but it’s often hard to tell where the contamination comes from. Since the source is not contaminated, you get this regional variation, which is much harder to pin down.

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            • By Robert Rapier on March 19, 2013 at 5:12 am

              But is there any evidence that the Ogalla has been contaminated as a result of farming that takes place above it? Locally, or not?

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  14. By Robert Feria on March 7, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    This is an juvenile assessment. Realistically, people are motivated by emotion, not nearly as much by facts. Even if with the best intentions, facts are often skewed, and there are constantly people debating whether or not facts cited are true or not (as mentioned about the amount of carbon burned in the tar sands, for example). And I see no source cited in this article, so we’re supposed to believe you based on your word only, and your supposed “reputation.” That is dumb. Do you think a speech noting the exact carbon content of the tar sands, or the statistical accident potential of any length of pipe on this pipeline would make a more convincing argument? Would people even be able to comprehend the data, if there was even access to it? The answer is no.

    Look at all the statistical data you’re throwing out to tout that burning all that carbon wouldn’t make an appreciable difference. The difference has already been made. The weather is already screwed up, and we didn’t need 500 years to do it. Your science is already incomplete. You can take a common sense look to know things aren’t right now. Furthermore, you’re farming the argument as if that’s the only reason to stop the pipeline. How about because it doesn’t benefit the U.S.? How about because it perpetuates a cycle of destruction when the answers are becoming more and more obvious that fossil fuels are not the answer, and the alternatives are becoming cheaper and cheaper? How about because the potential for disaster should outweigh any short term financial gains that will be accrued not by the public at large, but a small already ridiculously wealthy minority, at the expense of the populace? Those are all facts.

    And “yelling at a hurricane” is not futile. That analogy is facile. You act as if everything in the history and future of civilization will be determined by a cost-benefit analysis. Get real. If you could predict the future with any degree of actual certainty you wouldn’t be writing puff pieces like this trying to sway people’s minds, but would’ve been a billionaire on wall street. You’re just guessing, and no, actually lots have been changed by people who didn’t want their environment to go to hell. Fracking has already lost footing all over the country thanks to mostly emotional arguments, and states already have stood up to ban the practice. But I thought there was a growing demand for natural gas and energy? So, gee, how did these people manage to shut down fracking operations?

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 7, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      “Realistically, people are motivated by emotion, not nearly as much by facts.”

      And when their emotions won’t actually impact the facts in the way they think they will, I think that needs to be pointed out so they can redirect those emotions.

      And I see no source cited in this article, so we’re supposed to believe you based on your word only, and your supposed “reputation.”

      My supposed reputation? It’s amazing to me how snarky people get when they are making emotional arguments. But, which sources do you think are missing? What is it that you think I am asking you to simply take my word for that you think is incorrect?

      No time for a detailed reply just now as I am on vacation. I will pick this up next week.

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    • By Michael Kirby on March 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Hah.

      I get it. You are being sarcastic and funny. In that light your post is quite humorous.

      You are right in one respect. This is an import point that scientists like Robert must understand. Facts and rationalization are useful in the mechanics of decision making, but not necessarily in the establishment of policy.

      Unfortunately in this case we have the intersection of the two. We have the environment impact statement which is an attempt to look at a specific project in the light of particular environmental and economic goals, and evaluate the change. It should be devoid of policy as best it can. And when it comes up with an answer that we don’t like, then that’s okay. We should either trust the laws, or change the laws.

      But there is another undercurrent here that deals with the Energy policy in general. That is not a fact-based policy. It is aspirational.

      One one side we have people who are afraid of the consequences of dealing with global warming. Is the solution to having the carbon footprint of a village in india to become a village in india?

      On the other side we have the fear of global warming. Of creating an unmitigated disaster that is so unthinkable that becoming a village in india is a reasonable alternative.

      It’s no wonder that no compromise is possible. The two aspirations with these two arguments are fundamentally at odds with each other. We need third aspiration.

      Mike

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  15. By Ben on March 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Is this Furia guy living in the same world as the rest of us? Talk about an absence of reality–better yet, sensibility! Fracking has been “shut down”? Wow! That observation speaks volumes about ignoring the facts while offering up whatever strikes one’s fancy. Fracking continues apace and, notwithstanding what is becoiming a protracted period of low natural gas prices, the prospects for a growing supply of gas has never been more likely. This may be unsettling to those who hold a visceral disdain for fossil fuels, but it doesn’t change the facts and circumstances that our domestic/global economic system absolutley depends on affordable energy supplies. Is that preferable? Maybe not. But the reality of it is unassailable.

    I am often reminded of an old farmer-friend from N. New England ‘s bumper sticker: “never criticize a farmer with your mouth full.” Well, that holds true for those of us who daily consume (lots) of fossil fuels to sustain our modern lifestyles. But I guess that may be the point; there is guilty conscience at work here that views the values of modernity as the source of the problem and until we repent of our reckless consumption, well, a pox on our house and all who reside within it.

    Mr. Rapier does, indeed, appear gulity of one thing in particular; he confesses that the oil and gas industries take an active hand in delivering products and services that support the American way of life. Now, that may be a damning indictment to the contemporary lifestyle haters out there, but it hardly merits apology for, in the words of old Howard Cosell, “just telling it like it is.”

    It is amazing how shrillness displaces logic when ideology (politics) is the principal driver of the argument. There must be a Gresham’s Law of sorts at work in all this:)

    Ben

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  16. By Ben on March 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Excuse me, Feria. It’s important to get the surname right, so as to keep watch for some future pronouncements:)

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  17. By GreenEngineer on March 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Robert,

    I wanted to share a perspective from a political wonk who’s work I respect, who points out that most of the objections to opposition to Keystone (including, to a degree, your points) are making the error of conflating policy with activism.
    http://grist.org/climate-energy/activism-and-policy-are-not-the-same-thing/

    (Note also the multiple links in that article, to more writing on the same issue. I recommend looking at those as well.)

    I agree, as does the author David Roberts, that fixating on Keystone is poor climate policy. (I don’t think that, if Keystone is defeated, the Canadian government will trivially be able to find another route to market. Most of the other options mean going up against First Nations powerblocs, which are not to be underestimated in Canadian politics. But this is really a minor disagreement, relative to the main point.)
    The main point is that the fight over Keystone is an effective rallying point for activism. Whether it succeeds or fails, it will impact the cultural discussion around fossil fuel use. The real (i.e. strategic) purpose of fighting Keystone is not to stop the pipeline per-se – that would be a bonus – but to build a political constituency that can effectively drive the US to adopt a climate/carbon policy of any sort. As well, perhaps, as different urban planning policies, different tax policies, and other policies that would help build infrastructure that is not so dependent on fossil fuels (thus addressing your point about reducing the demand).

    Roberts has pointed out in this context and others that, in terms of influencing political decisions and the political landscape, depth and intensity matters more than breadth or inclusiveness. The inordinate power wielded by the Tea Party politicians is a pretty good demonstration of this principle. It’s irritating as hell to me, because as you say it’s not rational. But it does work.

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    • By Rate Crimes on March 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Well said, sir.

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      • By Robert Rapier on March 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        I agree, and I am following up with a story based partly on David Roberts’ posts.

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  18. By Pieter Siegers on March 11, 2013 at 5:17 pm
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  19. By Dan on March 12, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Ed Dolan weighs in on the subject in a response to Fareed Zakaria.His main points are 1) Oil sands are expensive by their nature–>accelerated development will not lower oil prices. 2) Oil is a global commodity and (generally) trades at the same price globally–>whether the oil goes to China or the US the price impact will be generally the same 3)If the debate started with the premise of full-cost energy pricing (as it arguably should) it would look a lot different.
    My summary doesn’t do his argument justice and would recommend it for those interested in the discussion.

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  20. By michtom on March 13, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Actually, regardless of the value of your arguments, the WaPo editorial page IS a bastion of conservatives.

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    • By Ed_Reid on March 14, 2013 at 9:28 am

      Surely you jest!

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  21. By Rate Crimes on March 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    “The reason that is important is that they could be channeling their energy into things that could potentially make a difference.” – Robert Rapier

    What “things”? A few links to your prior recommendations would have been helpful at this point in your argument.

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      I did link to an article that I wrote last week where I covered one of these issues. I have also discussed them at length several times in the past.

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      • By RBM on March 17, 2013 at 11:17 am

        I have found myself in such a position as referencing a reference which is further referenced on an unrelated topic. I have a large bookmark collection for expressly that referencing function. It’s a serious technical lever, in case you don’t use it.

        Nice to see you getting back to your site.

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        • By Robert Rapier on March 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm

          Yeah, I have been traveling for the past two weeks, and have had some snafus. I will be back in the office and getting back into my regular routine early this week.

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          • By rbmacn on March 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

            This is a second try with Discus via my Google login this time …

            I recently came across a seemingly credible assertion that may make Keystone irrelevant. It’s about Suncor.

            Source: http://intjforum.com/showpost.php?p=3295610&postcount=33

            “I’m actually interning at one of the Athabasca oil sands and this has been a bit of a hot topic recently. Suncor :D
            Basically it boils down to whether or not bitumen is profitable if piped
            around. It isn’t. So the company decided that instead of shipping out
            bitumen itself, we’d upgrade it, to more refined forms up here and then
            ship THAT stuff around, it’ll be easier to pipe, more money worthy etc.
            The company actually just cancelled a project that was going to do just
            that, upgrade the oil so it’s easier to transport around, especially
            important because it mostly operates in the retail sector in Canada and
            the States instead of just shipping it to power plants to make energy.
            So the Keystone project isn’t as much of a concern. These companies are
            in no amount of trouble financially by the way and still have immense
            amounts of investment. Enough to shrug off most of the Squirrel Squad.”

            I have, at this time, found no confirmation to this assertion, but it may be my limitations popping up in searching.

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  22. By Marita K Noon on March 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I love the yelling at a hurricane analogy. I may use that in the future. Thank you! Have you listened to the Minnesota Public Radio debate with Sierra’s Club’s Michale Brune. Enlightening! http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/02/25/daily-circuit-keystone-pipeline

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  23. By Wayne Lankenau on February 2, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    On a clean water aspect, the Kalamazoo River still has Embridge tar sands from four years ago when 900,000 barrels ruptured. Bitumen sinks, two hundred chemicals pollute the air and the water. The Yellow Stone River was polluted by Exxon after that during high water, so not cleaned up. These old pipelines were meant for oil not tar sand slug, sand is corrosive in metal pipes, and then there is Exxon again, who used an old pipeline they didn’t have inspected and ruptured 22 foot slice in Mayflower AR polluting the water table and it’s lake. All these are tar sands in water that they can’t cleanup. Newer pipe has also failed 12 times in ND when the Keystone also failed. You can’t call a pipeline XL or any other with this sand slug safe. If it gets in water can’t we shoot the people who say we have to have it. It would only be fair

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    • By Robert Rapier on February 2, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      Wayne, this is not a place you can come and just say whatever pops into your head. You will be asked to support your statements. There are so many signs you don’t know what you are talking about, but the idea that you think “tar sands” means there is sand in the pipeline is just silly. They aren’t pumping tar sands down the pipeline; they are either moving bitumen that has been diluted (after it was extracted with steam; hence no “sand”) or bitumen that has been upgraded to syn crude (hence no sand).

      Also, I don’t allow implications of violence, or fantasizing about someone’s death (as you have done elsewhere over the Koch Brothers). That’s just sick. You can take that elsewhere, but you won’t do it here.

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  24. By Crouching Tiger on February 3, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Hitting nail on the head, so to speak.
    Good job,
    CT

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