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View Diary: A taxing compromise on Keystone XL (26 comments)

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  •  That rhetoric is troubling to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, Adam AZ

    The tarsands will add 0.06 C to global warming, or about 1% of the total anticipated.

    So if we go with the "game over" rhetoric, once the tarsands are stopped (assuming they could be), we'd still have 99% of the problem remaining.

    Just saying, how many times can we "cry wolf" ?

    As always, isn't it much better to attack demand rather than supply (as Americans, one might have thought that prohibition and the drugs wars would have made that crystal clear to us, but I guess we never learn!)

    •  Tax tar sands (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      or any "heavy" imported oil (Mexico, Venezuela) based on a percentage of the difference between its price and the price of sweet benchmark crude at Cushing.

      Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

      by 6412093 on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 11:35:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, I've been a long time advocate of (1+ / 0-)

        a carbon tax, so that's a great idea.

        OTOH, it will not have a measurable impact on global climate change.

        Plus, somehow the "pipeline tax" will have to be extended to rail, which is increasingly be used to transport crude oil in North America.

        •  Or, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          the railroads will lobby FOR a pipeline tax. Though you're right that if the oil just moves by rail instead of pipeline, that doesn't really help. But think of having the popcorn concession at the fight between the rail and oil industries.

        •  The problem with a carbon tax (0+ / 0-)

          that is levied at the point of delivery is that such a tax does not address the total actual carbon dioxide equivalents emission potential of a delivered fuel.....only the portion of this potential represented by combusting that fuel at its delivery point would be represented in such analysis.   The extra processing that generate emissions for tar sands over conventional crude would not be reflected in the tax as applied to crude oil delivered.

          •  That's arguing over small details (0+ / 0-)

            in particular, the tar sands crude is 17% more carbon intensive than conventional crude.

            So that means the tax should be 29 cents instead of 25 cents.

            Big whoop, compared to the current status of ZERO cents!

      •  And to look at the "bigger picture" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        here's an interesting snippet:

        Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn are reaping the benefits of surging demand for railroad tank cars to haul shale oil from beyond the reach of existing pipelines.

        Buffett’s Union Tank Car Co. is working at full capacity and Icahn’s American Railcar Industries Inc. (ARII) has a backlog through 2014. Trinity Industries Inc. (TRN), the biggest railcar producer, began converting wind-tower factories last year to help meet demand for train cars that can transport the petroleum product.


        A couple of points jump out of that

        1) the bad optics if Obama nixes the Keystone pipeline, thus benefiting Buffet (a reliable bugaboo to the RWers).

        2) they're right now converting wind turbine factories to produce rail cars to transport crude oil - how crazy is that?

        •  I'm taking a hard look (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          at the various State severance taxes on oil/gas drilling, which are, in a matter of speaking, carbon taxes.

          Those could provide a good boilerplate for a national carbon tax.  In addition the State taxes could be adjusted so that Ohio doesn't get a dime while Montana gets a dollar for the same amount of oil withdrawn.

          Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

          by 6412093 on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 12:05:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't really understand this: (0+ / 0-)
            In addition the State taxes could be adjusted so that Ohio doesn't get a dime while Montana gets a dollar for the same amount of oil withdrawn.
            Personally, I go for something like an escalating $0.25 a year tax per gallon of gasoline imposed nationwide (i.e., 25 cents the first year, 50 cents the next, then 75 and  so on).

            Which similar assessments for coal and natural gas based on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

            The $$s generated could/should be used for two things

            1) mitigating the increased costs for low income people

            2) a trust fund to deal with Sandy-type events

            •  What I meant (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              The State taxes could be standardized so the oil/gas industry doesn't screw a state.

              North Dakota taxes oil and gas at 5% at the wellhead pump which would be $4.50/barrel of oil.  

               Ohio taxes it at about 10 cents per barrel of oil.

               Texas is 4.6% which is about $4/bbl.

              Kansas gets 8% minus 3.67% credit for 4.33%.

              Oklahoma gets 7%. About $6.30/bbl.

              Ahem, Ohio, you're getting hosed.

              Texas also taxes byproducts, called condensates, which few if any states tax.

              Many of these figures are from the Innertubes, and conflict with other sources.

              Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

              by 6412093 on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 09:30:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I think Jim Hansen was half right (0+ / 0-)

      I am more frustrated with his comment in his dismissal of the very real and inevitable hazard of more pipeline spills and explosions, when Enbridge and others have refused or been unable to clean up spills to date.

      The Keystone XL pipeline showed be stopped for either or both reasons, and the revelations of engineering shortcuts, like those reported by Evan Vokes, the former TransCanada employee and engineer, a whistleblower recently awarded in Canada:

      "To me the most outstanding issue is the practice of engineering during the construction of pipelines," says Vokes.

      "Under deadlines of cost and schedule for pipelines, quality concerns are reduced from compliance with the code to what risks can the company get away with."

      Canada's energy industry wants to double the nation's pipeline capacity over the next decade to either export bitumen or import light oil to dilute the sludge-like heavy oil.

      But three proposals by TransCanada, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge have encountered a tide of popular resistance from First Nations, environmentalists, labour unions, scientists and economists critical of the pace and scale of development in the tar sands.

      Vokes, a materials engineer, worked for TransCanada pipelines for five years (2007-2012) on projects in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. (Calgary-based TransCanada is the proponent of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would transport bitumen to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.)

      His specific duties included metallurgy and welding. He also specialized in an important code compliance process known as non-destructive examination under National Energy Board legislation.

      Vokes told his superiors that the company was not complying to NEB regulation or supporting codes when inspecting welds during pipeline and facility construction.

      •  I have no problems with stopping Keystone (0+ / 0-)

        however do it for the right reasons, and don't oversell it.

        Articles like this: Record High for Global Carbon Emissions


        ec. 2, 2012 — Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are set to rise again in 2012, reaching a record high of 35.6 billion tonnes -- according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project, co-led by researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
        make it abundantly clear that Keystone and the Tarsands themselves are minutia in the larger scheme of things (heck, global emissions increased MORE in one year than the fully developed tarsands!!)

        The bottom line is that the battle against global warming has been lost.

        We really, really need to shift our focus towards something like a stiff carbon tax that will provide funding to mitigate the current and in the future escalating costs associated with global climate change.

        •  I've usually argued better forestry would help (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mark Mywurtz

          If we could stop the fires that regularly savage Sumatra and Borneo peatswamps, we'd be hugely better off, but that's hard to do from Minnesota.

          However, a huge amount of Tar Sands are moving through Minnesota. We can stop that!

          We could also try to manage public lands and state forests for climate, biodiversity as well as resource extraction to make $ for schools, or carve out some sort of deal that puts MN state forests into a carbon sequestration scheme that generates state revenue for schools, and replaces the logging/mining revenues that cause state lands to be spoiled in pursuit of dollars. Public land managers should be cut into this tax, or any cap and dividend scheme, to pursuit mitigation for greenhouse gas emissions.

          Pipelines are obviously dangerous and easy to mobilize opposition against them. Harder to educate people to the catastrophic loss of biodiversity and the human misdirection of photosynthetic potential on 40%+ of all terrestrial lands now in agricultural production, etc.

          Tim Flannery has useful ideas and provokes other serious scientists and some strong policy recommendations:

          “Trees for Security” explains how trees get rid of CO2 pollution already in the atmosphere. Plants are astonishingly effective as carbon eaters, able to remove approximately 8% of atmospheric carbon per year (p 65). But plants die and rot, releasing the carbon again. In northern parts, forests can actually contribute to global warming, that is, if a dark forest replaces snow-covered land its effect in sequestering carbon would be more than offset by its greater absorption of sunlight (p 67). Tropical forests accordingly are especially important for carbon sequestration. Yet in just one century half the tropical rain forests have disappeared. In some countries, like Papua New Guinea, de-forestation is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions (p 68). Flannery recommends sponsorship of projects to preserve rain forests, to be managed through the Internet, with the results on reliability made available (p 70).

          In “Revolution in the Feedlot,” Flannery makes a pitch for pyrolysis, or charcoal production, arguing that it not only generates energy, but the charcoal improves soil and sequesters carbon permanently (p 77). A study published in 2008 in Nature gives the numbers, which are encouraging, but the process is expensive (p 82).

          Flannery’s “Animal Solutions” chapter argues for holistic management techniques, giving as an example those pioneered by Allan Savory. In this method cattle are moved periodically in small paddocks; they eat everything in their grazing area and leave dung, which enriches the soil for future growth. Larger numbers of cattle can be raised on the same amount of land, and with less use of medicines, for the moving about breaks the parasite cycle (p 87).

          In “Farm-based Ecological Efficiency” Flannery makes similar arguments for “sustainable enterprise,” combining the production of eggs, broilers, beef, hogs and rabbits, citing the practices of Joel Salatin (p 94). “Eggmobiles” are moved about over the land; the chicken manure enriches the soil and pigs turn it over. Certainly what Flannery describes is a far better life for the animals concerned, and he condemns conventional feedlot intensive farming (p 97). But he calls vegetarianism “faddism” (p 98).

          His final chapter, “Age of Sustainability?” gives Flannery’s sad estimate of a better than even chance that humanity will pass the point of no return (p 100). He suggests that the 8th commandment, not to steal, should also forbid stealing from future generations (p 103). He ends with another look at Gaia. The injustices, conflict and pestilence of the 21st century will not be its defining challenge, which rather is “to bring sustainability to a species that has not known such a condition since it manufactured its first tool” (p 107). He hopes that Gaia “will achieve intelligent control” of the world, or the blind watchmaker may tinker on as in the last 4 billion years. “If we fail, all of our species’ great triumphs, all of our efforts, will have been for naught” (p 107).

          Peter Singer’s response to the book tackles Flannery’s pro-meat analysis, arguing no less than that not eating beef is the best way for people in affluent nations to achieve a rapid reduction in their contributions to climate change (p 132).

          Emphasis is mine.
          •  Do you want massive amounts of tar sands (0+ / 0-)

            to be moving through Minnesota by rail instead?

            To me, that's not * that * much of an improvement!

            And is the Peter Singer that you're quoting the same one that is against abortion but OK with infanticide?   While I totally am on board with an anti-meat agenda - somehow the movement needs a better spokesperson than that!!

            •  It is possible to stop Tar Sands (0+ / 0-)

              And yes, based on our experience with the 1979 Bemidji pipeline spill, rail is safer, more likely to be cleaned up than pipelines.

              All pipelines spill, and engineering shortcuts take place in pipelines. Until we can turn of tar sands flow via rail cars, rail cars better than new pipelines.

              •  Besides funding green energy (0+ / 0-)

                A pipeline tax will need to fund public costs from from pipeline leaks and breaks, and enough inspectors to try to prevent that from happening. But mostly it needs to fund oil's eventual replacement.

                •  I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion (0+ / 0-)

                  even when all evidence is to the contrary . . .

                  Sixteen environmental groups signed a letter sent to Canadian National CEO Claude Mongeau this week to express opposition to any plans to ship product from the Alberta oil sands west by rail

                  “Unfortunately, ... there are far greater fatality, injury and environmental risks when transporting crude oil by rail than by pipeline,” the letter said.

                  “Should CN decide to try to move forward with its proposal, it would face major opposition and risks to the company. We urge you to stop any forward movement with shipping tar sands oil by rail through British Columbia.”

                  It cites a study last year by the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning American think tank that has endorsed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast after comparing the safety and accident statistics of rail, road and pipelines.


                  Just saying, when environmental groups and right wing think tanks agree on something, methinks you have to have pretty strong empirical evidence to dispute their combined conclusions.

                  Because really, when do those two groups agree on * anything * ?

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