Environist Madness In The Mail
by Nathan Barton © 2011
October 03, 2011
friend recently alerted me to a protest which is scheduled to take
place in Pierre, South Dakota, to reverse a decision by the State
Legislature to issue permits allowing a pipeline to be constructed
across South Dakota to transport crude oil from the Alberta
(Canadian) oil sand deposits to refineries in Texas, at a rate of a
million barrels a day. [The email text is in italics, quoted as
received, typos and all. ML]
The e-mail contained a very fine collection of lies, innuendo, twisted “facts” and appeals to prevent South Dakota and Nebraska from being destroyed by this pipeline project, and to “tell the truth.” In this article, I’m responding to these points. Beware: my response is very sarcastic and somewhat bitter. As a citizen of South Dakota, I cannot but be sick that once again our state is infected with this kind of nonsense. Please accept my apologies for length, harshness, and downright anger. I have been fighting this sort of thing for my entire adult life, it seems, in at least a half-dozen states and overseas. Their malice just grows stronger.
my readers might imagine, I've been watching this issue for a long
time. The US and Canada have billions of barrels of oil, perhaps
more than all the Arabs put together. The construction and the
operation will be expensive but will pay for itself quickly,
according to all unbiased analysis I’ve read.
By contrast, at first glance, most of this e-mail is propaganda. I noticed that there are almost NO citations at all - just claims. And a LOT of bald-faced lies.
water is at risk. Our people are at risk.
few Key Key points [PLEASE READ]:
1. Some people support the pipeline on the erroneous assumption that it will lower our gas/diesel prices. In their report (apublic document) to the United States government, Keystone explained that this would RAISE Midwest fuel prices. They go on to explain this phenomena which is lengthy and complicated and if anyone is interested I can send them a link. Second, the oil is not ours. Rather, it is Canada's and they are selling it to Asia. Period.
Yes, the oil is Canada's, and I sometimes agree that Canada behaves like an Arab oil kingdom with moose, but Canada is NOT using this pipeline to send Albertan oil to Asia: if they were doing that, the pipeline would be running to BC and not through the Great Plains. Nor would they pay the US to refine the oil into products to ship across the Pacific via the Panama Canal or around the Cape. I have NEVER heard of this supposed public document that they claim shows fuel will cost more. Nor can I think of any reason that would be the case. I can think of ways that governments could use this as an excuse, maybe.
2. Some people support the pipeline based on the assumption of jobs. The number of jobs will be minimal and short lived. Once built, everything is automated. There will be little measurable economic impact for South Dakotans. Those reaping impact would be Canadians and oil companies.
the construction is short-lived, but it is STILL hundreds of
thousands of man-hours at excellent wages, AND contractors and other
local work and materials. I have to point out that
"automated" does not mean no jobs. Automated means that you
don't have some union member watching a bunch of gauges and going out
and turning wheels and valves at a series of little pump stations.
But SOMEONE still has to maintain and repair and replace the
automated equipment, and someone, somewhere (even if it is Omaha or
Kansas City) has to run the automated control room systems. Someone has
to inspect and report and you can't do that all with
robots and satellites. Rich(er) Canadians will still come
to Rally and with their families to the Black Hills and to the
medical facilities at Sioux Falls - so?
And, by the way, Trans Canada is a PUBLICLY traded company. It is Canadian and based in Canada, but its stock is traded on Wall Street, and I do not doubt that MANY of its shareholders are Americans. It has, and will have, offices and facilities in the US, with US employees. Trans Canada does not have the equivalent of the Houston Space Center running a robot on Mars. Also by the way, some opponents claim that the Koch Brothers will be big winners from this pipeline - "winning" presumed to be "make oodles of money" - but, last I checked, the "evil" Koch Brothers are Americans and not Canadians. I understand that they even buy things right here in the US and have American employees - at least some of them.
3. The EPA has rejected the project a number of times and warned the State Department that the Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) are insufficient; but what is clear is that there is major risk for the Ogallala Aquifer(which supplieswater tothe entire center of the country) and also the Nebraska Sandhills and the Platte River. Leaks are actually quite frequent and this pipeline is the most at risk because of the 3000 degrees that must be maintained throughout the pipes to move this extraordinarily dirty oil.Consequently, leaks are a givendespitewhatindustry says. The record shows this.
Frankly, the EPA rejection (which isn’t true - EPA merely “addressed concerns” but did not “reject it) is a GOOD thing - because I work with the EPA weekly and have for 25 years and I don't trust ANYthing the EPA says. The primary reason that EPA has repeatedly come out against the EIS is that the EIS does not address global warming, and the EPA claims that this pipeline will cripple the fight against global warming because its production will encourage more consumption of fossil fuels and therefore more greenhouse gases. Claims about poor review of safety issues and spill response planning are bogus, but very technical in nature.
garbage about the damage to the Ogallala, the Sand Hills, and the
Platte is just that: garbage. Yes, pipelines leak, just
as ships leak, cars crash, planes fall down out of the sky,
and people shoot people. Life happens. BUT the potential damage
is NOT any more of a risk than having semi-trucks with loads of diesel
or sulfuric acid, or trains with scrap metal or lime or explosives
driving over the SAME aquifer, the SAME hills, and the SAME river.
Indeed, the risk is much less.
Pipelines leak. So do
underground and above ground fuel tanks, in service stations and on
farms and ranches in Valentine and Mission and Tryon and Hyannis and
North Platte. AND HAVE FOR about 80 years now. That is why we build
fuel tanks with secondary containment and leak detection systems,
monitoring systems and all the rest. And that is what a modern
pipeline has, as well; monitoring systems and leak detectors and
secondary containment - heated pipelines with insulation and more.
how contradictory this claim is: 3000 F (and I don't know if that
temperature is required or not). I believe that the number is an
inflated lie. Why? Because Stainless Steel melts at 2750
F. I suspect the real temperature is more like 300 F, though I
can't confirm this. But this kind of lie is typical.) 3000F
is supposedly necessary to get the tar sand oil to be pumped.
you ever noticed that asphalt oil tanks don't have to have secondary
containment such as double walls? Why? Because as soon as
that hot oil hits outside temperatures, even in the heat of the
summer, it cools off and SOLIDIFIES. So it can't very well soak
into the sand of the Sand Hills or drain into the Platte River, much
less soak through dozens or hundreds of feet into the Ogallala to
pollute it. Yes, it would be a mess, and have to be cleaned
up, and hauled to the nearest asphalt plant to be reheated and used
to make asphaltic cement concrete to go out and pave the roads over
the Ogalalla and the Sand Hills and the Platte...
Only very VERY STUPID people would make these kinds of claims. But that is why I call them "environists" - because they aren't environmentalists - they left the "mental" part out a LONG time ago.
4. Carbon emissions from this project are 80% higher, meaning that by 2020 we will have NEGATED all of our green/clean/renewable energy gains! This fact is most ominous in its affect on global warming.
Eighty percent higher than WHAT? WHAT "energy gains" by 2020? As I discussed above, what the environists and opponents really hate about it is allowing people to continue burning traditional "fossil" fuels. YES, tar sand production and refining uses significantly MORE energy than traditional oil production, especially than our beloved West Texas Intermediate, but that is what is to be expected, and IS offset by better efficiency, including using pipelines. But the environists want us to depend on the Middle East and Venezuela and Nigeria more and more so that energy costs more and more, in the idea that it will MAKE us stop using as much. And when you figure in ALL the costs of Middle East or Nigerian oil, including transport and buying off sheikhs and the rest, there isn't much difference - and even if Canada was an Arab Kingdom with ice and snow, they are still a whole lot better to deal with - especially Albertans - than all of the various Mohammeds and Husseins and Ali's.
5. The whole project is an economic fabricationwhich will line the pockets of a few and cause major unrepairable damage to mammoth regions of land. The cost to aggressively strip mine this sand is astronomical. The production cost of Saudi/Iranian oil is 4-6 dollars per barrel with 2-3 dollars in transportation. The production cost of Tar Sands is at minimum 30 dollars.
I don't think
their numbers are right. for one thing, we AREN'T paying the Saudi's
4-6 dollars a barrel: we are paying 80-100 dollars a barrel, no
matter what the production cost is. Say the "Canadians" can
make DOUBLE their production cost by charging us $60/barrel - we
still win! I suspect the transportation cost is off by a factor
of 10, at least.
"Major irreparable damage to mammoth regions of land." I already addressed the "few" and the "major" and even the "irreparable." "Mammoth regions?" The pipe is 36 inches in diameter. The insulation, footings, control and monitoring and such MIGHT require a trench averaging 10 feet in width. It might require another 20 feet on average for pumping stations and an access road and such. The US portion is 1379 miles long. 10 feet by 1379 miles is about 73 MILLION Square Feet - that is a LOT, or so it seems. And 30 feet wide would be an incredible 220 MILLION SF. BUT is that really that much? That is only 1672 acres, only 2.46 square miles - and the full 30-foot width only 5015 acres (7.37 square miles). South Dakota is roughly 77,000 square miles, so this is not even 1/100 of 1% of just South Dakota, and only 4/10 of 1% of the Sand Hills (19,600 Sq. Mi.). HARDLY a "Mammoth region." It won't even really leave much of the "scar" that you find in most mountain areas after putting in pipelines: grass grows back ever so much nicer, especially in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.
6.It has now been revealed that the State department's David Goldwyn has been SECRETLY coaching the Canadians on how they can successfully market this to Americans. Ifpeople fall forit, then this takes the pressure off of the President and Hillary Clinton because they can say "the people want it." The marketing is based entirely on lies and partial truths and, due to desperate times, Americans are making false assumptions such as the aforementioned points #1 and #2.
The opponents are now reduced to ad hominim attacks - much as I enjoy bashing the State Department, Mrs. Clinton, and the First Citizen, this is totally bogus. Of COURSE the State Department is aiding them - they are DIPLOMATS. And it is hardly a secret, now is it?
7. Unprecedented "eminent domain" is being used against our farmers,ranchers, and landowners from North Dakota to Texas.Never before has a foreign corporation been given this right. These people's farms and land will be severely devaluedand they will have to suffer the nightmare of leaks and toxicity to their animals and plants with little to no help. South Dakota's legislature had a bill proposed to demand a bond for the landowners but the bill failed.
Even MORE bogus claims here. Yes, eminent domain is being used, and I don't like eminent domain whether it is the DM&E or Xcel or MDU or SDDOT, but it is NOT unprecedented by any means. I-90 through SD is about 400 miles long, and averages more than 100 feet wide: that is 7.58 square miles (not counting interchanges), or more than this entire pipeline in the US: I suspect the percentage of eminent domain action would be about the same.
"Never before has a foreign corporation" been allowed to do this? Totally false. Let us consider just a few oil companies. "American PetroFina," better known as Fina, was an American subsidiary of a French company - OWNED by the French government at the time. They started building pipelines and drilling wells and building plants, using eminent domain, in Texas in the 1920s. I know this because my grandfather worked for them for a while back then. Royal Dutch Shell, owned by the House of Orange, did so in the US starting in at least the 1930s. BP and its AMOCO subsidiary have been doing so for two decades. They are British owned. Although I don't think they've used it, the South Dakota Cement Plant has the power of eminent domain, and I don't think that was taken away when it was sold to GCC, a MEXICAN company. And don't forget who OWNS the DM&E today; Canadian Pacific Railways. Remember THAT eminent domain fight?
There is NO evidence that a pipeline automatically devalues land or that the destruction will be serious. This is a standard tactic of the BANANA crowd, to claim that their land values will be destroyed. There is more "toxicity" from an asphalt or chipseal road than from having that pipeline buried under your corn field or pasture or grazing land. The entire idea of eminent domain in the US is that a fair market price is established for the purchase of the land, including the loss of some use of the land due to a pipeline under it. Lies and more lies.
Of course the legislature voted down the bond requirement, mostly because IT WAS NOT WANTED BY THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH DAKOTA. I'm not saying politics was not involved, and no doubt at least a few legisgators were bought off in some way, but this is also the same legislature that deep-sixed the Lone Tree Ash Monofill project at Igloo, have been so very cautious about the Hyperion refinery at North Sioux City and have made it impossible to recycle any hazardous wastes or materials in South Dakota by imposing a $1 million permit application fee for ANY such project. These are NOT rabidly "Anti-environment" legislators.
8. The devastation in Alberta where this mining is already occurring is massive and the toxicity isata level heretofore unknown. The native people are already sick and dying. This mining is permanently destroying the BOREAL FOREST which is a major nesting ground for millions of birds andmuch other wildlife. These will perish and this will have a major effect on our bird populations here and the ecosystem in general.
more lies. According to even such biased sources as Wikipedia,
there is no "massive" devastation in Alberta, and toxicity
is indeed unknown: they haven't found
toxicity different from most other human activities, including oil
and gas production and refining throughout the world. The
claims of "native people" being sick and dying seem to be
made up out of whole cloth.
Reclamation is necessary, but
according to Canadian officials, is proceeding - just as reclamation
is done in SD, NE, and elsewhere. There is NO indication that
the "destruction" of the Boreal Forest is permanent, and
every indication that reclamation can be and will be successful.
(I've personally been involved with the reclamation of
thousands of acres of mined land - I know it can be done on
everything from 10-inch/year desert to 60-in/year high mountain
forest.) The total boreal forest "destroyed" (disturbed) by
mining of tar sands so far is 160 square miles: the earth has an
estimated 17,235,000 square miles of boreal forest. The evil
Canadians would have to mine more than 1,000 times as much land in
order to "destroy" just 1% of the earth's boreal forests.
To compare, in 500 years, in the United States:
Doesn't seem like the birds are going to run out of room due to tar sand mining. (Also, to compare, I THINK that the Black Hills has had more than 160 square miles of forest burned off in the last decade, between the various fires west of Custer and Hot Springs, around Lead and Deadwood, and near Rockerville. Obviously, the ecology, economy, and society of the Black Hills was totally destroyed for centuries to come by this devastation. Indeed, that is probably why the attendance at the 2011, 71st Sturgis Rally dropped by about 15% from 2010.
There is nothing good that can come of this pipeline and South Dakota's future as a leader in agriculture and tourism is endangered by it.Cleanwater is an absolute necessity and to risk all for a few fleeting jobs would beextremely unfortunate. The people must be apprised of these facts; they currently are misinformed. They are making decisions based on false information and flawed deductions. Please talk to your neighbors, callPresidentObama andSecretaryClinton and go to Pierre! Your children andour future generations deserve better.
Here we see a couple of the standard "trump cards" these environists like to play. This pipeline will "endanger" agriculture and tourism. The crops won't grow, the birds will fall from the skies, the animals will sicken and die (both the farm animals and the wildlife, to drive off the hunter tourists). The tourists will turn up their noses at a 10- or 30-foot wide temporary scar in the prairie and all go to Mazatlan instead, while writing about how ugly and awful it is, and how little girls can't go to visit Grandmaw (or visit Mount Rushmore with Grandmaw) because of that hideous pipeline, and that witches' brew just bubbling and waiting to explode underground and kill the little girl...
Bottom line: this is propaganda that either is outright lies or twisted "truths" being used to engage people's emotions and disengage their brains. They seem to be willing to resort to completely outrageous and bogus claims to prove their preconceptions, and there is NOTHING that would change their minds.
This is a hatchet job, and to be blunt, why was I NOT surprised to see a McGovern name at the bottom of the e-mail? If I were being nasty, I would say that these people are a bunch of filthy lying, conniving, and immoral propagandists who not only WON'T tell the truth but apparently can NOT tell the truth, and have an agenda that would turn South Dakota into some sort of Buffalo Commons where we can ALL dress pretty for the elite eco-tourists, along with North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, and Kansas. But I'll try to be nice and not say anything like that. I've seen these tactics used for nearly 4 decades by the environists, in Colorado and Kansas and California and South Dakota and Wyoming and Montana, and this follows the pattern almost to a T.
These people's idea of the perfect society seems to be Xth Dynasty Egypt: an elite ruling "god" class of 1% and 99% poor peasants who don't go more than five miles from the hovel that they were born in, next to a dung heap behind the palace; where the elite jet around the world and "control" it while the masses, who exist only for their betters have virtually nothing so that the elite can wallow in unimaginable luxuries - all "for the good of the people." The thing that amazes me the most is that apparently the First Citizen and Mrs. Clinton are in support of this - or at least not obviously opposed to it. The thing that does NOT amaze me is how many people buy into their lies and demagoguery.
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