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About The Keystone Pipeline

a reasonable dice with death........

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.

The Keystone Pipeline - you may have heard of it - already exists and has functioned as designed for a few years. It starts in Canada, and from metropolitan Bindloss, Alberta, it goes across Saskatchewan to Elm Creek, Manitoba. It then drops due south to Steele City near the Nebraska, Kansas border, then through Oklahoma to Nederland, Louisiana with a spur to Houston, locations where many refineries bloom and not much else can.

A projected shortcut for the Keystone, called the Keystone XL, would go from Bindloss direct to Steele City, crossing Montana and South Dakota into Nebraska. It would be a much bigger pipe, a much shorter trip, and reduce expense. Sounds logical and economical. Construction of this shortcut creates near 42,000 direct and indirect jobs and would generate $2 billion in earnings in the U.S. Who would be against that?

Environmentalists and not a few economists, it turns out. The Obama administration has put the completion of this extension on hold, and the supposed issue is jobs and oh, by the way, the election of a Republican senator from Louisiana, where that state's recent election results, where no candidate got more than 50% of the vote, demanded the top two candidates to engage in a runoff. The GOP just forced a vote on the pipeline, and it failed in the Senate this week, which will not help Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu retain her seat. Louisiana, you may have heard, is not riding a streak of luck, what with hurricanes, and Deep Water Horizon, and its various set-in-stone issues and corruptions that have lacerated it since Jean Lafitte. The increased oil flow would have meant more refinery work and the spin off boosts to local economies.

But, here are the problems. Once construction is finished in about two years, the residual would only leave about 50 new jobs. The other 41, 950 jobs? Near all gone.

And then, there's the problem with that Alberta oil. It's sand oil. In the old days of oil, a well went into the ground to find the underground lakes of the black gold, which were under natural pressure and were extracted rather easily. But as the easy ponds of oil were used up, we've had to extract oil from shale and that hidden in rock where it is much more expensive, dangerous, and environmentally threatening. Oil in sand requires huge amounts of surface land and expensive procedures to be obtained. It's a process that releases all sorts of greenhouse gas and destroys much larger portions of the wild environment about it. But, hey! That's Canada's problem. It becomes ours when it gets into our country.

The pipeline was going to be of wider gauge and nursed along by pumping stations and under responsible pressure in safely thick pipes. But due to the various near genetically sexual tendencies of Capitalism, within a short amount of time applications were in for thinner pipe at higher pressure to near ensure a rupture at some point. There will be ruptures, there always are, and experience with the Alaska pipeline suggests that the leaks can be handled, the damage be minimal and the earth heals. But that was in Alaska, where temperatures slow oil to near glacial speed, and it is so thick it's relatively easy to remove.

In Nebraska, although the oil companies did accommodate concerns about wetlands and nudged the proposed pipeline around, the fact remains that this huge, higher pressure oil in these thinner pipes is above the Ogallalah aquifer, the life of the nation between the Rockies and Mississippi. A leak underground in the hot days of a Nebraskan or Kansan summer might well get into the water in sufficient amount to poison water used for livestock, agriculture, and , oh yes, ourselves. We cannot send a clean team down to mop things up. Seal Team Six isn't of use in such matters, and what if the Midwest suffers a drought as now threatens the central farm land of California with mere extension status of Death Valley?

I'm a capitalist, if anything, but there is a religious and dunderhead element in this cult just as there was and is in the outer fringes of socialism. For the last 200 years, phrases like 'minimal risk' or 'acceptable risk' or the term 'risk' itself were not just addressed but cultivated in board rooms and around the dining table. Risk meant profit. We learned from Deep Water Horizon, didn't we? Please tell me we did....... Because, the risk of what means profit for who ought to be the first question asked.