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The title is of course utter BS. Most of us have noticed the diaries published during the last week about the Keystone Pipeline, the Alberta Tar Sands, the protestors getting arrested in front of the White House....

Every once in a while I see this frame creep in to the comments (see the title?).

oil by pipeline from allies is preferable to oil from people who want us dead....

And for the last week I begrudgingly accepted that opinion, even if its basically a favorite right wing point. Then Saturday night, as I was writing a comment.... something jelled for me.

There is a hypocritical element there. Adult swim, go ahead jump in....

There is  considerable oil in the  National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA), 60 miles WestSW of Prudhoe Bay, Light crude IIRC. Some of the highest quality crude ever produced in Alaska, much higher quality than what currently passes thru the Alaskan Pipeline.

These days 25-30 wells can be drilled from a 400ft sq pad supplied by a single road, significantly reducing the environmental impact (barring oil spills) to the Permafrost/Muskeg, fewer drilling pads, fewer miles of roads, etc.

NPRA contains 40% more oil than ANWR, is of higher quality, its found in 3-4 plays - or oil fields, vs 8-10 plays in ANWR. NPRA also has about 35 trillion cubic ft of recoverable nat gas.

NPRA is by no means any where as large as the Alberta Tar Sands, and maybe thats the point that is driving the oil companies. The Alberta Tar Sands are huge, and represents a tremendously large and consistent revenue stream for 50 to 90 years.

The fact is... there are other oil fields that can be tapped, the argument that says taping the Alberta Tar sands because its in an allies hands vs Mid East oil, is representative of very narrow thinking.

Because we have oil in the the US that that can be said of.

Of course in an era of transnational corporations, Mid East oil will find a customer thru Exxon, or Shell, or Valero. Just as oil shipped thru a potential Keystone pipeline from Alberta to Texas will find foreign customers.

Funny how many right wingers are only now perturbed about buying oil from people that hate us. Where were you in 1977? SO I guess its come down to is Canadian oil is better than Mid East oil, and oil from Alaska.... isn't that just a bit hypocritical?

For one to to believe this argument, one has to discount the fact that oil corporations are transnational companies and often sell product to the highest bidder. And even then The argument doesn't float because we have onshore domestic sources of oil, so far untapped, that are all of higher quality and can be removed from the ground on a barrel for barrel basis with less impact on the environment.

Of course having the US buy Mid East oil is not the reason certain people don't like us, they dont like us because we've used their countries and peoples as expendable pawns in the so called Grand Chess Game. So if we stop buying Mid East oil, they probably will still hate us, and buying oil from Alberta to replace Mid East oil guarantees large scale habitat destruction in the near term, and guarantees Co2 levels that will raise the level of oceans catastrophically in the long term, virtually guaranteeing a worse case global warming scenario.

Conventional oil fields don't require digging up the peat bog in Alberta thats called Muskeg, in order to get to the layer of bitumen, often called extra heavy oil. The destruction of the Muskeg represents a significant methane and Co2 input into the atmosphere. A significant energy input is required to steam the bitumen out of the sand. If natural gas is used for power, it is likely that western Canada's remaining 70 trillion cubic feet of nat gas, in addition to an equal amount of nat gas so far untapped in Alaska would be required to power the need for steam. The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the destruction of the Muskeg and the burning of 140 trillion cubic feet of nat gas are not present with conventional oil production. I'm not trying to make the case to keep using oil, but there is a huge difference between conventional oil drilling and using payloaders to scoop up bitumen/sand from the tundra in Alberta and then steaming the bitumen from the sand.

And frankly digging up what amounts to tar, to make gas represents the planets last oil resources, which need to be expended to make the next generation of energy infrastructure: Renewables.....

But I'm sure you already knew that.

9:49 AM PT: Apparently some readers are not getting past the title, to actually read the dairy, hit and run commenting is not due diligence for a diary that represents a fair amount of research. SO be it.

10:54 AM PT: Its been pointed out to me I might have picked a better title. I did think about changing the title but choose not to. My thinking is thus: the initial negative comments were posted by those who did not read the dairy, or even the first 4 sentences.  No tags were read. SO heres a question for commenters: what is a worse violation? Using an inflammatory title like I did.... or reading nothing past the title and not exercising due diligence? I would appreciate some feedback on this, thanks. Roger.

Originally posted to Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 08:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 08:52:39 AM PDT

  •  IIRC, most of that oil isn't coming to us. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox, sberel, cotterperson, G2geek

    The U.S. can't even refine it.

    •  PADIII region-Texas is not really equipped (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel, BlackSheep1, cotterperson

      to handle heavy oil. the other regions of the US are much better equipped with considerable catalytic cracker capacity to break down the long chain hydrocarbon molecules.

      And the Keystone would be built into the Houston-Port Arthur area.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:06:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is a refinery in Gary Indiana (5+ / 0-)

      Near Chicago on Lake Michigan that is working on a permit to refine tar sands oil - and put the waste water in Lake Michigan.

      That is a very very bad idea.

      After the Republicans burn down the world, they will prove the Democrats did it.

      by jimraff on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:34:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gross. Yes very bad. Bitumen is the worst. (5+ / 0-)

        Most oil actually floats, bitumen doesnt it sinks...

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:47:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  bitumen is road-making material. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roger Fox

          It's the black stuff that binds together the aggregates in asphalt.  

          Portland cement (PC) concrete works by a one-way chemical reaction where the cement turns into a glue that binds the aggregates together and then crystallizes, thereby making rock.  That makes it ideal for buildings where compressive strength is needed, but not the best material for roads.

          Asphalt is a "concrete" but one that works by the reversible effects of heating and cooling on the bituminous binder: when hot it's liquid so it mixes well with aggregate into a uniform material that can be spread and rolled out; and when cool, it solidifies to set hard into a solid road surface.

          Asphalt provides a smoother road surface than PC concrete because it gains a degree of flexibility in hot weather, that helps control cracking of the pavement.  Asphalt repairs can also be knit together with the existing surface in a manner that's not possible with PC concrete.

          Given that roads will exist as long as any type of wheeled vehicles (bicycles) exist, we need to save our supplies of bitumen for road construction and maintenance.  

          •  Pre stressed concrete is the shiz nit. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Lasts decades longer.

            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 05:52:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  for buildings, but not for roads. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roger Fox

              However keep in mind that Roman concrete has lasted for two thousand years: a "lost secret" that was a complete mystery until Ransome figured out how to make the stuff again in the 1850s and Abrahms figured out the water/cement ratio law.

              I tend to believe that reinforced concrete structures built according to best practices, can last centuries.  Time will tell of course, but I don't see anything about prestressed concrete that provides a major advantage for home construction compared to the use of poured concrete in-situ using ICFs.   In either case, much depends on the training, skill, and care exercised by workers on site.

              (That said, get on YouTube and look around, and you will see some truly appallingly bad practices being touted as "oh boy look what we built, aren't we something!"   The most common one is souping up the mix with enough water to float away the building, followed by failure to moist-cure flatwork, followed by unreinforced masonry of various kinds.)

              •  I learned about prestressed (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                NYT circa 1980, it was an editorial about roads IIRC.

                I have concrete work I did in '71 in  landscape, steps walkways, retaining walls. Have to re-strike joints repeatedly until it starts to set up. Still fabulous. Keep it wet when curing, yup.
                For flat work I like a mag float swirl finish, vs the swept broom finish. To many municipalities drag a broom across early and leave, not refloating as moisture comes to the top. Ends up with a surface that pits and flakes during the first winter. Have to keep working it until it starts to set up, then you get some strong shit that'll last for decades at a minimum.

                FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:16:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  alternately... (0+ / 0-)

                  .... mix the stuff so stiff that little or no moisture will come to the surface.  This requires a) being able to slow down the drum speed on portable mixers to work with stiff mixes, and b) good consolidation of the stiff concrete in the forms: a lot of tamping with a strike-off board on flatwork or the careful use of a vibrator for walls and suchlike.  

                  Swirl finish is nice, also more labor-intensive thus higher cost, and a dragged broom finish does provide non-skid benefits at low cost, hence popular in municipal work.  

                  I was unaware of prestressed in road work.  Hmm.  

                  Good concrete in structures should at least last a century.  BTW, engineers in Japan have developed superplastic (flowable) mixes that attain 10,000 PSI.  These are for use in highrises, but holy cow I'd love to see a dome-home made out of that stuff in a monolithic pour: it would probably be earthquake proof even right next to a faultline having a 7 or higher.  (Writing this from a short distance from the Hayward fault, uh-oh.)

                  •  Yeah a stiff dryer mix is best (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Dealing with the water is always problematic, IMHO properly working a dryer mix increases the odds of better results.

                    Re: 100 yrs, absolutely.

                    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                    by Roger Fox on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 11:50:57 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Oil is fungible. (9+ / 0-)

    Ok, there's some small differences in precise chemistry, and there's a cost involved in transportation. But for the most part, oil is fungible. It doesn't matter if the gas you put in your tank was refined from Canadian oil sands or from Saudi fields.

    So if the US stops buying oil from the mideast, someone else will buy the same oil and ship it elsewhere. The people who want us dead still get paid, and it's even still in US dollars. The best you can claim is that the risk of oil spill from a tanker at sea has gone down somewhat.

    The environment, however, is not fungible. We can't swap out one climate for another, and we have no spares. You can't treat real-estate located on Mars as equal in value to real-estate located on Earth.

  •  Having BP pollute our gulf is more (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, Roger Fox, Sharon Wraight

    preferable to oil spills polluting other places. Might as well mess up our own backyard to keep up our oil addiction. Before you know it, we're all drowning in oil.

    I work with B2B PAC, and all views and opinions in this account are my own.

    by slinkerwink on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:10:00 AM PDT

  •  This is a poorly thought out diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny, Kimball Cross, cyolland

    Tar sands oil is being purchased by China

    It's also the dirtiest oil on the planet and the pipeline would leak like a sieve:

    Opposition to the mega-project does not cut evenly across party lines. Unions representing pipefitters and tradespeople – usually backers of Obama's Democrats support the pipeline as a "shovel ready" job creation programme. Some back-to-the land rural Republicans – including Nebraska senator Mike Johanns, have voiced concerns about the pipeline's route and possible environmental damage.

    TransCanada's assessment of the project estimates less than 11 spills discharging more than 50 barrels over the pipeline's 50 year lifespan. But a recent study from John Stainsbury, professor of water resources and engineering at the University of Nebraska, finds the company underestimates possible dangers.

    His independent analysis, the first on the proposed pipeline, finds that Keystone XL could spill as much as 29.9 million liters of oil above the Ogallala Aquifer and more than 26 million liters of raw tar sands crude at the Yellowstone River crossing.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which warned of possible risks from the project, had its budget slashed by 16 per cent or $1.6bn in April as part of a budget deal between Democrats and Republicans. The move deliberately weakens enforcement of clean air and water legislation in favour of big business, environmentalists say. [...]

    Extracting one barrel of oil from the tar sands requires three barrels of water and produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude, environmentalists say. Industry contends that most emissions are created when oil is burned in a car or power plant and the extra emissions from tar sands, given the full lifecycle of oil, are comparatively small, only about 15 per cent above conventional oil.

    Lakes full of toxic water, polluted during the extraction process, cover 170 square kilometers in Alberta and they are growing with increased demand.

    So, risks toxic leaks to the largest underwater aquifers in the great plains, pumps more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, uses up precious water resources and helps the Chinese burn more oil.

    Yeah, that;s a win-win all around.

    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:10:47 AM PDT

  •  the most preferrable oil (5+ / 0-)

    is oil left in the ground

  •  Pipeline is a done deal. (4+ / 0-)

    All the protests will accomplish nothing because, not just that protest is dead, the tar sands people own congress.

    The lot of us collected together do not have that sort of clout.

    Perhaps if we went all out and choked Washington DC and paralyzed many cities with days-long civil-disobedience battles we could accomplish something, but that might not even do it.

    The power behind this is so great Obama isn';t going to do anything but rubberstamp it.

    That's what "responsible presidents" do.

    And we are one step from utter powerlessness due to the savage wealth gap in this country.

    Plutonomy wants tar sands oil profits: plutonomy will have them.

    Republicans HATE America. Deal with it. / It's the PLUTONOMY, Stupid!

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:15:40 AM PDT

  •  No dispute on the environmental issues, (3+ / 0-)

    but paying off people in the middle east who hate us buy buying their oil isn't even always the worst geopolitical strategy.  I prefer to make the case for clean energy on the basis other than xenophobia, not make the case for dirty energy at all, and if we somehow imported renewables, that would be just fine.

    "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

    by Loge on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:42:28 AM PDT

    •  Taking the positive tack is always better (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight

      true dat.

      I've done so many of those positive takes on HVDC, wind etc.... but the destruction of the habitat-Muskeg is a story that needs to be told. And the oil from Mid EAst or ALberta doesnt float.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:56:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  weaning us of oil would do a whole lotta good (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        I'm very supportive of subsidies and tax incentives for R&D and use of renewables.

        I'm also reaching a point where (shoot me) I think nuclear energy will be an inevitably larger part of the picture. (And yes, I followed Fukushima hour-by-hour for the first few weeks, and still try to keep up with developments there. A worst-case scenario -- one of the worst 6 earthquakes in recorded history followed immediately by one of the worst tidal waves in recent history, core meltdowns, etc.)

        Depriving OPEC of oil revenues isn't xenophobia, it's smart politics for us (and arguably for their citizens as well -- no representation without taxation).

        •  I have the same conundrum (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharon Wraight

          I'm anti nuke, but until significant renewable capacity comes online, the powers that be will not move away from nuclear fission.

          So we need 100 gigawats from Solar and 100 gigawatts from wind, and 100 gigawatts of over night storage, so traditional baseload can be replaced by renewables, to replace that 100 gigawatts we get from nukes.

          And as I write in the dairy, there are sources of US oil that do not involve liberating as much GHG's. But again, transnational corporations... someone else will be buying mid east oil, they will get their money.

          So why are we deciding to unleash the largest carbon bomb in the form of the Tar sands, when we dont have to?

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 10:21:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  been wondering that myself (0+ / 0-)

      Re: "paying off people in the middle east who hate us buy buying their oil isn't even always the worst geopolitical strategy."

      I've never closely followed global politics, but I've wondered, is it an unmitigated bad if unpleasant regimes work with us so that we'll keep being a customer? Obviously there have been some major downsides, and the involvement of major oil corps in some countries has been appalling for the  people living in those countries (Nigeria, Sudan, others), but would we have more ability to put pressure on those regimes, or less, if we weren't an oil customer?

      •  Put the oil aside for a moment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight

        We tried to install Sadam Hussein as ruler in Iraq, the first time in 1956. Iran and the Shah. In the past we have tended to installing brutal dictators, not just in the Mid East, but in the Americas too.

        These coups tend to bring more long term instability and breeds hostility.

        Now lets bring the issue of oil back into the picture, and yeah it gets ugly conplicated.

        I think thats what you are thinking of when you say major downsides?

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 10:08:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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