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Tar sands mining in Alberta
Tar sands mining in Alberta (Monthly Review)
Five times House Republicans have okayed the Keystone XL pipeline project. But the latest effort to force administrative approval of the pipeline promoted by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) ran into a snag Thursday as part of a package of GOP-initiated energy legislation.

Fixing the screw-up is something Terry says hopes he can work out with Speaker John Boehner. Not that it really matters. The entire package of myopic House legislation has little chance of clearing the Senate, much less getting the president's signature.

Terry introduced his legislation—the North American Energy Access Act—last November. The bill would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve an application for the pipeline from builder TransCanada within 30 days of receiving it. If FERC did not move that quickly, the application would be automatically approved.

But, as reported by Andrew Restuccia, an aide to Terry said that, in the rush to get the amendment approved Thursday, four crucial lines in the wording went missing, adding "another layer of approval that we did not intend." Terry hopes to add the amendment to another piece of legislation, the aide said.

The Keystone XL pipeline, problematic for numerous reasons, including inevitable leaks along its path from the Alberta tar sands to Port Arthur on the Texas Gulf Coast, became a major focus for both regional and national protesters last summer. Opposition has linked ranchers and farmers in Nebraska and Texas, First Nations people in Canada and the United States, and environmental advocates determined to change policies in order to deal with the impacts of global warming.

In January, President Obama refused to give in to Republican demands that he approve the pipeline within 60 days. But he left the door open for TransCanada to reapply with a slightly altered route. That alteration is being sought to meet concerns about the pipeline's potential impact on the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides irrigation and drinking water to eight heartland states. The president has already approved a leg of the pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Port Arthur. Many environmental advocates expect him to approve the leg from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, as well.

The State Department issued a statement last week saying it would only provide a supplemental environmental impact statement on the pipeline for the new application. That means the wholly inadequate Final EIS issued for the original application in August 2011 would be allowed to stand. Among the many issues: Burning the oil the pipeline would transport would generate polluting emissions that are the equivalent of four million automobiles.

Since Obama's rejection of the original TransCanada route, Republicans have used it as a cudgel against the White House, pounding on it with bogus claims about tens of thousands of jobs that would be generated and generally presenting it as an example of the administration's allegedly backward energy policies. In the latest iteration, National Review Online calls the pipeline a "winning issue." NRO is urging Mitt Romney to take another bus tour along its route, and meet not only with citizens but also with several Democratic lawmakers who support the project, including Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  oh, yes, please, Mitt (27+ / 0-)

    take a bus tour along the route -- and actually meet the people who will have their properties taken for the Koch brothers and China.  

    Vi er alle norske " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 10:40:19 AM PDT

  •  This 'oil' is very corrosive and will eat up pipes (6+ / 0-)

    One reason there is a problem is the tar sands oil is much more corrosive than say oil from a deep well. It will be much more likely at some point to eat thru a pipeline. Also it is much harder to refine it and will, if I understand right, add a lot of smog near the refinery. And of course the refinery would be in the United States.

    Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things. Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) Just A Real Nice Guy, thinking out loud.

    by arealniceguy on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 10:52:31 AM PDT

    •  More impurities yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, kurt, JML9999

      In fact Bitumen from the Tar sands placed in a bucket of water wont even float...... it sinks.... API 10 or less.

      Syncrude Canada is the largest producer of Alberta Tar Sands, producing partially refined bitumen as a Med or light crude for sale.

      Port Arthur (TX) has about a million BPD capacity for deicated catylitic crackers, but currently are dedicated to heavey oil from S. America, IIRC Venezulea.

      But its interesting that the Keystone XL would have about a 900k BPD capacity... nearly matching the cracker capacity in Port Arthur... where a super tanker loading facility has been proposed....

      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 Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 12:36:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why not elevate the whole pipeline? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      Too ugly? Too obvious when it starts leaking, which it will? We can hire pipeline patrols to walk up and down it looking for leaks. Jobs, too! As soon as it starts to leak, emergency crews, on call 24-7, immediately respond to control the damage and repair the problems. More jobs! There's more, but wait...low overhead and damn the pollution. That's the Big Oil way.

      BTW, how much is the US going to make on this filthy deal? Who will get to keep that money? Do we have to allow the greedy ones to suck every drop of gas and oil from the planet before we do what is obviously necessary--invest in renewable and non-polluting energy?

      BTW: Gov. Cuomo is caving on the fracking of NY. Apparently, he thinks he's going to be able to run for president in a few years. That takes much money, huh? Best to get started now.  

    •  Why not elevate the entire pipeline? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      Too ugly? Too obvious when it starts leaking, which it will? We can hire pipeline patrols to walk up and down it looking for leaks. Jobs, too! As soon as it starts to leak, emergency crews, on call 24-7, immediately respond to control the damage and repair the problems. More jobs! There's more, but wait...low overhead and bury the pollution. That's the Big Oil way.

      How much is the US going to make on this filthy deal? Who will get to keep that money? Do we have to allow the greedy ones to suck every drop of gas and oil from the planet before we do what is obviously necessary--invest in renewable and non-polluting energy?

      BTW: Gov. Cuomo is caving on the fracking of NY. Apparently, he thinks he's going to be able to run for president in a few years. That takes much money, huh? Best to get started now.  

    •  The "Good" Tar Sands Are Running Out (0+ / 0-)

      Now they are into the dirtier stuff

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 08:29:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Aging pipelines, lax regulations=disaster waiting (12+ / 0-)

    to happen. Case in point, Alberta, where spills happen at the rate of nearly one a day.

    Yeah, almost daily.

    Environmental groups are pointing to three major oil spills in Alberta in the last six weeks as proof that the government needs stricter regulations and oversights over the province’s aging pipeline infrastructure.

    The latest spill occurred earlier this week in northeastern Alberta near the town of Elk Point, where Enbridge confirmed a spill of about 230,000 litres through its pumping station on the Athabasca pipeline.

    The biggest incident was earlier this month near Red Deer and Sundre in central Alberta, where 475,000 litres of oil from Plains Midstream Canada leaked, some of it spilling into the Red Deer River.

    In May, a Pace Energy Oil and Gas oil leak near Rainbow Lake in the northwest of the province spilled about 5,000 barrels.

    “Keeping track of all of these is getting harder and harder,” said Don Bester, of the landowners’ lobby association Alberta Surface Rights Group, which has about 1,400 members. “It doesn’t matter what the number of litres are. It’s critical to get these pipelines out of the water system.”

    Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema said three major oil spills in Alberta in six weeks is not a rare occurrence.

    “We have over 300 spills a year and it’s due to the aging pipeline infrastructure. That’s why the government should appoint an independent body. There are obviously huge problems with oversight and we’re leaving too much to companies to regulate and enforce themselves,” he said Wednesday.

    Great timing, Republicans. Well played.

  •  leaks from pipelines, whocuddanode? (6+ / 0-)

    pipleines always leak
    each joint is a potential failure node
    basic, but the republicans hate real math
    bet they like turning light bulbs on and off and on and off

    Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living~~Mother Jones

    by CA Berkeley WV on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 10:56:20 AM PDT

    •  Who could have foreseen™ nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CA Berkeley WV, Calamity Jean

      Actually I'm left with impression at least some portion of teabaggers have climbed inside their Fridge to see if the light goes out

      Not blaming Bush for the mess we're in, is like not blaming a train engineer for a fatal train wreck because he's no longer driving the train.

      by JML9999 on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:13:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That tour will fail in Nebraska--especially if (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, CoyoteMarti, JML9999

    Willard tries to have a photo-op with Heileman

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 10:58:29 AM PDT

  •  It would be nice if Romney set up some press (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    conference with Tester to talk about how wrong Obama is about the pipeline but then Tester punks him and starts talking about how the real jobs issue is corporate outsourcing, but that will never happen.

  •  Sen. Tester, take a tip from Louisiana... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet may think you want those jobs, tho' you really really don't. Down here, we know, you really really don't want what goes with those jobs.


  •  This may be the latest Republican attempt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, Albanius, Calamity Jean

    to authorize the XL pipeline through the back door, but it isn't the only one.  The transportation bill is being held up because of Republican insistence that approval of the pipeline be included in the bill, figuring that Obama won't veto the transportation bill.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:05:40 PM PDT

  •  Pipeline leaks and Sabotage (4+ / 0-)

    From an engineering standpoint I'd love to know who the Idiot is who came up with a design that has a 1700 mile long Single point of failure...

    Not blaming Bush for the mess we're in, is like not blaming a train engineer for a fatal train wreck because he's no longer driving the train.

    by JML9999 on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:06:27 PM PDT

  •  I'm OK with them forcing Obama to do (0+ / 0-)

    what he's going to do anyway:  Screw the Environment.

    Now if only they could do this competently.

    Forcing him to do it before the election will force him to choose sides openly instead of getting off with a "fuck y'all, thanks for the votez" next year.

    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:20:33 PM PDT

  •  screw keystone (0+ / 0-)

    Let's face it. Living in the dark can be a good thing!  I tell all my kids how good things used to be.  Way back before I was born.  Even before they killed off the whales for their oil to light their lanterns.  Yes, darkness was a thing to be appreciated.  You could see the stars at night.   We can't do that in New York City.  

    So, what I am saying is that we should all go dark!  In time, evolution will provide for us to have more rods in our retinas so that our night vision will be better.  It wouldn't take long.  Bicycles or walking would be the norm.  Sushi requires no cooking.  Yet the "other side" ridicules us!  

    Hang tight, brothers and sisters.  Obama will win in a landslide in November and we will finally move forward!

  •  Three leaks in Alberta in the last month (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Albanius, Calamity Jean

    up close and personal, the beautiful Red Deer River
    Alberta oil spill

    This is what you are in for all along the length of the pipeline. They burst and spray crude into rivers and streams. They ALL leak and the company has to be notified since they don't monitor their pipelines very carefully. By the time they send a crew, barrels of oil have gushed into the environment.

    ❧To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:40:17 PM PDT

  •  Obama is no hero in this "play" either (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Dead Man

    At Rio+20, Severn Cullis-Suzuki Revisits Historic '92 Speech, Fights for Next Generation's Survival

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I want to ask you about the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline. Just two months after President rejected the project after large protests by environmental groups, he announced his support for TransCanada to build a southern leg of the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas. In his remarks, President Obama said his administration has authorized enough gas pipelines to encircle the earth.

        PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. Over—that’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the earth, and then some.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was President Obama, who is not attending the summit, nor is David Cameron, the prime minister of England, or Angela Merkel. Now TransCanada has reapplied for a permit—


    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —to build a 1,200-mile segment from Alberta, Canada, to Steel City, Nebraska. Just this past Friday, the United States State Department said it would conduct a new environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL pipeline. Talk about the significance of this project and the role of activists in stopping it.

    SEVERN CULLIS-SUZUKI: The British journalist George Monbiot said yesterday that it’s just—it’s quite staggering to see the president, Democrat leader, Obama, backtracking on commitments that George Bush Sr. made in 1992. It really points to the shift politically that we’ve come to in 20 years. The realm of what is politically possible is totally on the side of the right, and it’s on the side of exploiting the natural resources of the planet as fast as it possibly can, and on a budget and on a scale that dwarfs its opposition.

    SEVERN CULLIS-SUZUKI: This message is loud and clear. This is a message from Prime Minister Harper, President Obama. The message to the rest of the world is: We don’t care about you; we do not care that your countries may be inundated, and huge social strife may be imminent—and is imminent. I was on a panel the other day with a minister from New Caledonia, a small island nation. I mean, for him, climate change is an issue of survival of his people, in—I mean, in direct terms. And what my country, what the American nation is saying is, "We do not care."

    "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

    by Sagebrush Bob on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:48:07 PM PDT

  •  Japan has closed ALL their Nuclear Power Plants (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean
    They are going straight to alternatives, primarily SOLAR.
    Knowing this, why (other than to line the pockets of their big donors) would anyone be seriously considering Keystone?!?An accident waiting to happen.  Germany as well is going SOLAR.  The writing is on the wall AMERICA.  Let's elect LEADERS who can see the FUTURE and get us out off this toxic oil dependency once and for all.  And NOW!!

    "The Internet is the Public Square of the 21st Century"- Sen. Al Franken

    by Kdoug on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 08:11:26 PM PDT

  •  How does INCREASING gas prices help America? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    That's what this pipeline is specifically designed to do

    1. Contrary to Republican and Koch brothers talking points, oil from the tar sands are already flowing to America and being refined into gasoline in Midwest refineries.

    2. The pipeline will allow the tar sands oil to divert from the Midwest refineries to the Gulf of Mexico.  The refineries in the Midwest will then have to by higher priced oil and will thus increase gasoline prices in the Midwest by 20 to 40 cents per gallon.

    3. The oil diverted by the pipeline will end up in gulf refineries that currently produce gasoline for the American market.

    4. The Gulf of Mexico refineries, especially in Port Arthur, Texas, will stop producing gasoline for sale in the American market, and instead will start refining the Canadian tar sands into gasoline for EXPORT to higher paying foreign markets.  American markets will thus see another 20 to 40 cent per gallon increase with the reduced production for American consumption

    how will REDUCING American gasoline supply lower gasoline prices?  It won't.  The entire purpose of Keystone XL is to gain access to export markets.  Period.  

    America will take all the environmental risks, in exchange we get to pay 20 to 40 cents per gallon more for gasoline.  Sounds great for the Republicans raking in dirty cash from the Koch brothers, not so much for the average American.

    •  The Canadians are quite open about this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      From Mclean's Explaining Canada’s hurry to build pipelines in the U.S.:

      [T]wo sources of growing oil production feed largely into the Midwestern market: Canadian production, both conventional and oilsands, and U.S. Bakken production in North Dakota and Montana.
      . . .
      Normally, it’s possible to take care of excess imports into one region by moving excess supply to another region, and that has been happening in this case too, but just not quickly enough.
      . . .
      Even with the added shipments out of the Midwest, a glut of oil remains, and the excess supply has pushed down prices. In the last year, the spread between what a barrel of oil is worth in the Midwest (called WTI–which is usually the oil price you see on the nightly news) and what it’s worth either on the Gulf Coast (LLS) or when shipped to Europe (called Brent–which is generally used as a benchmark for world prices) has widened to historic levels.
      Estimates are that this keeps the price of gasoline in the Midwest lower by 10 to 20 cents.
  •  Oil Stays At $80, Tar Sands Industry Will Implode (0+ / 0-)

    Hmmm maybe the recent plunge in oil prices is a move by OPEC to scuttle the tar sands industry

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 08:32:07 PM PDT

  •  I lived in Port Arthur (4+ / 0-)

    most of my life.  This pipeline is not a job creator.

    When I left PA, one of the largest refineries in North America was being built.  There were something like 10,000 construction jobs... for 6 months.  There were going to be 75 full time, permanent positions from it.

    Refineries, pipelines, gas terminals, none of these generate as many jobs as Walmart does.  

    Look up the stats for Jefferson County in SE Texas.  With no less than 11 major refineries, two ports, and a number of factories and petrochemical facilities (including the previously mentioned big one), the largest employer in the county is Conn's Appliances (whose headquarters is there).  

    There are none of the petrochemical industries even in the top 10 employers in the area.  Not Chevron, Texacco, Fina, none of them.  

    The GOP can tote the jobs numbers all they want, but it won't help anyone in the US.  Another facility hired 700 Indian and Pakistani welders, flew them in, set them up in a tent city for 45 days, then flew them out again.  Not a single resident of the US was employed during construction.

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