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Obama says weasel words

Wasn’t it nice of Obama to say a few words about the environment yesterday?

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project from Canada to Texas should only be approved if it doesn’t worsen carbon pollution.

The $7 billion pipeline has become a contentious issue, with Republicans touting the jobs it would create and demanding its approval and environmentalists urging the Obama administration to reject it, because it would carry carbon-intensive oil from Canadian tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast.

"Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interests," Obama said in a speech on climate change at Georgetown University. "Our national interest would be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

So of course the Keystone XL pipeline will be immediately shut down, because of course building a leaky, fault-prone pipe full of toxic sludge across the country to further feed our appetite for burning carbon based fuel will exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.

You mean he hasn’t shut it down?

I’m betting he’s going to wait for some industry-funded committee to issue a piece of paper with a few token concessions, and then announce that his requirements have been met: “Why, yes, we’ve got this big dirty pipe gurgling petroleum into the nation’s fuel tank, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to burn it.”

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Comments

  1. Rey Fox says

    I’m betting he’s going to wait for some industry-funded committee to issue a piece of paper with a few token concessions, and then announce that his requirements have been met

    Exactly what I thought when Credo sent me the e-mail telling me to thank Obama. Sorry, no.

  2. says

    And of course, the main environmental concern with the pipeline per se isn’t carbon pollution (that happens at both ends, not in the pipe itself so that need not concern us amirite), but the risk of ruptures and leaks of sludge into sleepy neighbourhoods and sensitive ecosystems.

  3. says

    The “big dirty pipe gurgling petroleum into the nation’s fuel tank” by way of unique and irreplaceable habitat, a geologically active seismic zone, part of this country’s breadbasket, and the Ogallala Aquifer, which spans 8 states, provides fresh water to millions and supports an estimated (in 2011) $20 billion in agriculture.

    What could possibly go wrong (before the owners can park the profits in untaxed off-shore investments)?

  4. jamessweet says

    Blah. I mean, even if it was a magic pipe that could never leak and floated invisibly 1000 ft off the ground so it would never be a threat to wildlife, it would still not meet that absurd criterion, because — duh — cheaper oil means more carbon emissions. Period.

    I haven’t personally gathered enough information on it to have a strong opinion on the Keystone XL pipeline (not everybody can be an activist on every single issue — though I will say that people whom I agree with on other issues seem to be universally opposed… but like I say, I just don’t know enough about it). But even given my neutral stance, this Obama quote is just silliness.

  5. quidam says

    If the oil from Keystone displaces oil consumption from the Middle East, the pipeline need not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution”.

    There is a risk of oil spill from pipelines, there is a risk of oil spill from tankers. The question to be asked is whether Canada is more or less likely than the Middle East to reduce emissions or spills. Don’t forget the images from Kuwait after the Iraq invasion, or Nigeria right now.

    You won’t drive down oil consumption by buying it from the Middle East or Nigeria or Venezuela Buy it from a stable, civilised country that, while by no means perfect, is a lot more environmentally aware than the alternatives.

  6. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    …civilised country that … is a lot more environmentally aware than the alternatives.

    I love my country and my province, but anyone who says that we are being environmentally aware about our resource pillaging isn’t paying any fucking attention.

  7. truthspeaker says

    Ibis3, Let’s burn some bridges

    26 June 2013 at 8:47 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    And of course, the main environmental concern with the pipeline per se isn’t carbon pollution (that happens at both ends, not in the pipe itself so that need not concern us amirite), but the risk of ruptures and leaks of sludge into sleepy neighbourhoods and sensitive ecosystems

    “We’ve got that covered! We’ve successfully convinced the news media not to report on pipeline spills.” – Obama

  8. says

    “this big dirty pipe gurgling petroleum into the nation’s fuel tank, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to burn it.”

    Let’s, while we’re at it, stop pretending that any of that tar sands oil is for domestic consumption in the first place. It’s for export. Why else send it all the way to the Gulf?

  9. truthspeaker says

    quidam

    26 June 2013 at 9:26 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    If the oil from Keystone displaces oil consumption from the Middle East, the pipeline need not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution”.

    It’s not going to displace consumption from the Middle East because it’s for export, not consumption in the US or Canada.

  10. brucegee1962 says

    Look, if the peak oil predictions are true, (which they very likely are), then oil prices are going to keep going up and up. If that happens, there’s no way the tar sands oil will be allowed to stay in the ground. Never in history has there been a time when a valuable resource has gone untapped just because of environmental concerns. So if we don’t build the pipeline, it’ll get shipped across Canada in trucks and then put into tankers, which will crash and leak. This is a no-win situation.

    I think what Obama should do is make a grand deal. He could make approval of the pipeline his key concession in a sorely-needed overall energy policy. The centerpiece of his demands should be a hefty carbon tax, proceeds of which go to funding alternative energy. Then he’ll have the energy companies over a barrel (as it were) — but if he bundles everything together into an omnibus bill and gets the backing of big oil, he might have a chance of getting something passed by Congress for once.

    If he approves it without getting anything in return, though, his transition to the Dark Side will be complete.

  11. Blobulon says

    How much does it cost to build a refinery? More than $7 billion? Why doesn’t the oil company and the Canadian government just build one next to the oil sands?

  12. quidam says

    I love my country and my province, but anyone who says that we are being environmentally aware about our resource pillaging isn’t paying any fucking attention.

    You are mistaken. Pay less attention to fucking and try not to think in absolutes. ‘Not perfect’ or ‘not as much as I would like’ is far from ‘not at all’. It’s an issue of degree. Alberta is far more environmentally aware than Nigeria, the Middle East – and frankly even the USA.

    When you take your car to the gas station, and you could choose the source for your fuel, the preference would go something like: Biofuels, ethanol, petroleum from Alberta, Gulf of Mexico petroleum, Venezuela, Middle East, Nigeria.

    In an ideal world we wouldn’t be using internal combustion engines powered by fossil fuels at all, but until then you should choose the lesser of two evils.

    Let’s, while we’re at it, stop pretending that any of that tar sands oil is for domestic consumption in the first place. It’s for export. Why else send it all the way to the Gulf?

    Because that’s where the refineries are. There’s no pretence, the US is a net importer of oil (5 million bpd) Some refined oil gets exported, but othr than a brief blip during the depth of the recession, the US is also a net importer of refined petroleum. Oil is fungible.

  13. WharGarbl says

    @Blobulon
    #12
    Just to hazard a few guesses.
    1. It’s cheaper to run pipeline and “pay” to have the oil refined instead of refining it themselves.
    2. Less compliance requirements in Texas (contribute to the “cheaperness” above).
    3. Refined oil have closer access to seaport.

  14. quidam says

    How much does it cost to build a refinery? More than $7 billion? Why doesn’t the oil company and the Canadian government just build one next to the oil sands?

    1) you still have to have a pipeline to transport the refined product to market
    2) Texas has 27 refineries and spare capacity, Alberta has 3 with little excess capacity

    The cost of permitting and building a refinery is so high that the USA has not built a new refinery in 37 years

  15. Zif nab says

    If it makes you feel any better, quite a bit of this oil is just going to be refined along the gulf coast. After that it’ll be shipped internationally. The oil isn’t actually for us.

  16. quidam says

    Zif
    That simply isn’t true. The US is a net importer of both crude and refined oil.

  17. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Congrats on your utter lack of reading comprehension quidam. Nowhere did I make any absolute statements.

    Because we’re marginally better than Nigeria, I’m not allowed to point out the hundreds of square kilometers of boreal forest obliterated? Or the fact that of the land so far ravaged and polluted for oil, only 0.15% has been certified “reclaimed”, and that is granted despite the fact that is hasn’t been return to its native state. And the fact that the huge swaths of destruction are just a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount of land already leased out for oil sands development.

    So, great, yes, Nigeria and the Middle East are worse than us. That’s a wonderfully low bar you’re setting for the oil companies, I bet they’d love you. Me, on the other hand, I want them held a hell of a lot more accountable.

  18. elind says

    The safety issue of the Keystone pipeline is certainly a valid issue, but that applies to any pipeline or transport of unpleasant stuff. Cars are really dangerous too.

    However the greenhouse gas issue is not related to the pipeline directly because the tar sands are in Canada and Canada will continue to exploit them, probably with Chinese support if the USA dumps them. Nothing will be shut down.

    So unless Canada decides to pay for American natural gas and close down their massive investment in Alberta, not building the Keystone (which will also serve US oil wells) will only result in economic and job losses for the USA, as well as greater USA greenhouse gas emissions due to tanker transport of oil instead of by pipeline.

    I await correction.

  19. David Wilford says

    A summary of the major points of Obama’s speech on global warming shows it’s more than just a few weasel words:

    REDUCE POLLUTION

    — Issue a presidential memorandum to launch the first-ever federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

    — Finalize proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants without further delay.

    — Provide up to $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur investment in efficiency projects and advanced fossil energy, including technology to limit carbon emissions.

    — Expand permitting for renewable energy projects like wind and solar on public lands, with a goal of powering more than 6 million homes by 2020.

    — Set a goal of installing 100 megawatts of renewable energy projects on federally assisted housing projects by 2020.

    — Take more aggressive steps to increase efficiency for appliances and federal buildings, with a goal of reducing carbon dioxide pollution by 3 billion metric tons overall by 2030.

    — Develop fuel-economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

    PREPARE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

    — Create a National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities, farmers and landowners prepare for droughts and wildfires.

    — Promote climate change preparedness by creating a toolkit for local governments and businesses, and by partnering with hospitals.

    — Update flood risk reduction standards that all federally funded projects must meet.

    GLOBAL EFFORTS

    — Work with China, India and other major polluting countries to reduce emissions.

    — End U.S. public financing for new coal-fired power plants in other countries. Plants in the poorest countries using the most efficient technology available would be exempt.

  20. shoeguy says

    I don’t care if they are putting rose petals in on end and getting kittens out the other, the pipeline belongs to Koch industries and will give more billions to those two fascist rat bastards. Actually the XL pipeline will not be pumping petrolium, but will be handling the much much nastier bitumen which can be cracked into Petrolium distillates. The whole damn thing will have to be heated to keep the tar like stuff running, and that means electricity which means burning coal in the Midwest. Natural gas is the safest transitional fuel with the only drawback being that it is too cheap. Cheap fuel undermines the transition to renewables.

  21. quidam says

    Congrats on your utter lack of reading comprehension quidam. Nowhere did I make any absolute statements.

    No? You claimed that Alberta was not ‘environmentally aware’ You are wrong, both provincial governments and oil sands companies are environmentally aware.

    Because we’re marginally better than Nigeria, I’m not allowed to point out the hundreds of square kilometers of boreal forest obliterated?

    Approximately 700 sqkm or 0.023% of Canada’s boreal forest. About half the size of Edmonton, which occupies prime prairie grasslands. What area do you feel would be appropriate? Or do you feel that oil should be magicked into existence without digging a hole in the ground anywhere?

    Or the fact that of the land so far ravaged and polluted for oil, only 0.15% has been certified “reclaimed”, and that is granted despite the fact that is hasn’t been return to its native state. And the fact that the huge swaths of destruction are just a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount of land already leased out for oil sands development.

    Your response shows that you do not understand the reclamation process. About 15% of land disturbed by oil sands has been reclaimed to natural state. Only a small area has been certified – as the reclaimed area has to be monitored until a successful ecosystem has been proven to have been established. This can take 15-20 years. There simply hasn’t been enough time to certify reclaimed land. The certification is the stage at which the company receives its substantial security bonds back from the government (this is the evidence that both government and industry is ‘environmentally aware’ ) In other words the government holds onto huge security deposit for decades until the lad is certified. There’s a huge financial incentive for reclamation to happen soon so that the company can get it’s hundreds of millions of dollars back.

    So, great, yes, Nigeria and the Middle East are worse than us. That’s a wonderfully low bar you’re setting for the oil companies, I bet they’d love you. Me, on the other hand, I want them held a hell of a lot more accountable.

    Canada and Alberta are not marginally better than Nigeria or the Middle East. They are hugely better, and to suggest otherwise is fatuous and based on ignorance. What additional accountability do you propose that you would like to hold them to?

    Please take the time to go to Fort Mac and take a tour of the operations and reclaimed areas. The companies are proud of their work.

  22. DLC says

    Is it me, or is this whole business of tar sands entirely too much like a junkie selling off his own kidney in order to get more drugs ?

  23. neuralobserver says

    Interesting. I am staunchly against any and all efforts that attempt to put on-line, any new energy sources that impact the greater environment negatively, as well as anything that feeds the fossil fuel addiction of the US and/or developing countries (e.g., Keystone pipeline).

    Funny thing is, I’m always wondering what some of our rhetorical defenders of the environment (PZ Myers, perhaps?) have done or are doing within the scope of their own circumstance to conserve energy usage and/or engage any new (or even well-established) alternative energy sources in their own lives/homes, or in some way support any local ideas with a positive environmental impact, from alternative energies to energy conservation; from support for local farming/farmers to bio-regional agriculture.
    To state the classic refrain in Stairway To Heaven…’and it makes me wonder.’

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    quidam @22:

    About 15% of land disturbed by oil sands has been reclaimed to natural state.

    Could you be more precise about “reclaimed to natural state”? Does that mean to the same state it was before mining? So, for example, wetlands would be restored to wetlands?

  25. says

    That simply isn’t true. The US is a net importer of both crude and refined oil.

    Key word: “net.”

    The Keystone oil will be refined in the south of the USA, some of it will be sold to regional consumers, but the rest will be sold and shipped abroad. Meanwhile, the rest of the country will continue to import oil from foreign countries because it’s actually cheaper to buy it from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and the rest, than to move it from Louisiana to New York.

  26. says

    What I found particularly disheartening was Obama’s seemingly thoughtless bandying about of the words “economic growth”. How can someone so supposedly attuned to environmental concerns be so apparently unaware and of the very problematic transition that is bearing down on us as we move from an economic system based on infinite growth to one that is based on steady-state economics?

  27. elind says

    So far, as far as I can determine from a quick scan, nobody has replied to my very specific comment at #19.

    Disappointing.

  28. elind says

    What I found particularly disheartening was Obama’s seemingly thoughtless bandying about of the words “economic growth”. How can someone so supposedly attuned to environmental concerns be so apparently unaware and of the very problematic transition that is bearing down on us as we move from an economic system based on infinite growth to one that is based on steady-state economics?

    How do you pretend to suggest we are moving to a system of steady-state economics; just on the simple fact that we are not in a state of steady population, never mind the simplistic, obvious, fact that our entire economic/tax system (including the rest of humanity) is based on more tomorrow than today?

    Can I call your comment thoughtless?

  29. says

    @brucegee1962 @#11

    The centerpiece of his demands should be a hefty carbon tax

    A carbon tax would certainly be an excellent and huge step forward. What would be even better, however, would be a carbon tax as a part of a larger and more comprehensive reform of our economic system which would include some form of external cost internalization. That, in addition to a better economic metric to replace the absurd GDP (such as the Genuine Progress Indicator that Maryland has recently experimented with) would go a long way towards getting us to where we need to be if we hope to retain even a semblance of our existing industrial civilization one hundred years’ hence.

  30. elind says

    neuralobserver
    26 June 2013 at 4:55 pm
    Interesting. I am staunchly against any and all efforts that attempt to put on-line, any new energy sources that impact the greater environment negatively, as well as anything that feeds the fossil fuel addiction of the US and/or developing countries (e.g., Keystone pipeline).

    So how many light bulbs do you have in your home? Funny that you don’t tell us. What does your PC and your internet access cost in environmental terms. You don’t have a clue do you.

    Hypocrite.

  31. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Approx 1 sq.km “reclaimed” versus approx 176 sq.km of lethal toxic tailings ponds, speaks for itself. And no, certified reclaimed land is NOT returned to natural state. The only requirement is an equivalent land capability capable of supporting one or more uses that existed prior to any activity being conducted on the land. The best you can say is that there are currently experiments under way, in conjunction with Alberta universities, to determine if its even possible to restore the wetlands to their previous conditions.

    quidam, I have spent plenty of time in and around Fort Mac. Frankly, you are either deliberately ignorant, or a shill for the oil companies. Either way, I see no profit in addressing you further.

  32. says

    Hi, elind!

    How do you pretend to suggest we are moving to a system of steady-state economics;

    I’m not pretending that we are consciously moving in that direction – - that is the problem. The unavoidable Laws of Thermodynamics dictate that the last 150 years of economic growth fueled by cheap oil will inevitably come to an end. There is no getting around this fact, we will transition to a steady-state economy on this finite planet; the only question is, will we do so consciously, or have those conditions imposed on us by nature? The sooner we all wake up to this reality the less difficult and painful the transition will be.

    just on the simple fact that we are not in a state of steady population,

    It’s more our last 150 years of exponential growth in energy usage based on cheap oil that I think should be our main concern, rather than population. Our entire modern industrial civilization would cease to exist without it. Human population, not so much.

    never mind the simplistic, obvious, fact that our entire economic/tax system (including the rest of humanity) is based on more tomorrow than today?

    Which tomorrow? It’s certainly based almost entirely on the tomorrows of next year’s corporate quarterly earnings and next election cycle’s voting returns. It’s the tomorrows of 10 and 50 and 100 years from now that I think we need our economic systems to be thinking about and making their decisions based on, IMHO.

    Can I call your comment thoughtless?

    But of course, elind! :)

  33. elind says

    lehman scott
    26 June 2013 at 7:14 pm
    Hi, elind!

    I don’t disagree with you on the main points; but yours is not a discussion about energy NOW; that is a discussion about much broader issues, like education and about birth control, and the economic condition that is required to achieve that in the short term, which requires energy.

    Taking the simplistic approach of denying energy to achieve your objectives can only lead to mass starvation and conflict, which it may very well do anyway given global warming and population growth everywhere; particularly in countries that cannot deal with that to any degree.

    I wish to revert to the original point I made. The keystone pipeline is not the devil it is made out to be; if only because it is a red herring.

  34. says

    Crap, i hate it when i repeat myself and don’t intend to. Sorry about that @#35, elind, i really should take the time to edit more when i comment.

  35. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dave @34: I was wondering whether quidam was privy to any developments since this University of Alberta study (PDF). I’m guessing not.

    Contrary to claims made in the media, peatland destroyed by open-pit mining will not be restored. Current plans dictate its replacement with upland forest and tailings storage lakes, amounting to the destruction of over 29,500 ha of peatland habitat. Landscape changes caused by currently approved mines will release between 11.4 and 47.3 million metric tons of stored carbon and will reduce carbon sequestration potential by 5,734-7,241 metric tons C/y.

  36. says

    I don’t disagree with you on the main points;

    O.K.

    but yours is not a discussion about energy NOW;

    I respectfully disagree, I think it very much is. The decisions about where and how we obtain, convert, store, transmit, and consume energy today has an enormous impact on our descendant’s energy options.

    that is a discussion about much broader issues, like education and about birth control, and the economic condition that is required to achieve that in the short term, which requires energy.

    I am indeed discussing broader issues, and eduction about the inevitable end of economic growth that we are currently starting to feel the effects of is crucially important in how we are going to need to deal with it. Fortunately, education these days is one of the few things that does not require large expenditures of energy, thanks to the Internet.

    Taking the simplistic approach of denying energy to achieve your objectives

    Where did I say or imply I wanted to deny anyone energy? And I think you may not be clear on what my “objectives” are, inasmuch as I really did not state any.

    can only lead to mass starvation and conflict, which it may very well do anyway given global warming and population growth everywhere; particularly in countries that cannot deal with that to any degree.

    See above.

    I wish to revert to the original point I made. The keystone pipeline is not the devil it is made out to be; if only because it is a red herring.

    I think I missed where you made that point in your original response to my comment.

  37. says

    The “big dirty pipe gurgling petroleum into the nation’s fuel tank” by way of unique and irreplaceable habitat, a geologically active seismic zone, part of this country’s breadbasket, and the Ogallala Aquifer, which spans 8 states, provides fresh water to millions and supports an estimated (in 2011) $20 billion in agriculture.

    and illegally crosses tribal land.

    The question to be asked is whether Canada is more or less likely than the Middle East to reduce emissions or spills.

    the answer is: they’re both not gonna do shit to prevent spills or other damage. We’ve seen TransCanada operate, you know. and KeystoneXL has already been shown to contain a number of shoddy welds you can actually see through.

    Alberta is far more environmentally aware than Nigeria, the Middle East – and frankly even the USA.

    1)i might give you nigeria, but Canada being better than the US is bullshit, and also irrelevant in regard to keystone, since that one will be running mostly through the US and will therefore be subject ot US “regulation”. And when it comes to oil, Canada and the US don’t do more in terms of environmental protection than the middle east does.

    That simply isn’t true. The US is a net importer of both crude and refined oil.

    irrelevant to the topic at hand, which is that the KeystoneXL won’t reduce U.S. imports of oil from elsewhere, since most of it is for shipping elsewhere.

    So unless Canada decides to pay for American natural gas and close down their massive investment in Alberta, not building the Keystone (which will also serve US oil wells) will only result in economic and job losses for the USA,

    i hate willfully ignorant people.
    http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/02/14/5-myths-about-keystone-xl-debunked/192668#jobs
    aside from that, the more expensive it becomes to build any new oil-related project, the better. so: more delays, more legal fights, and pretty much anything that increases the cost and delays any profit from oil-extraction and transport = good. Achieving this disincentive would of course be easier if welfare for oil-companies were finally cancelled, but still.

  38. quidam says

    25 Rob Grigjanis
    Could you be more precise about “reclaimed to natural state”? Does that mean to the same state it was before mining? So, for example, wetlands would be restored to wetlands?

    The actual wording s ‘equivalent state’ which broadly means that it has a similar mix of landforms, wetlands, local plant species etc. It need not be identical to the original topography

    38 Rob Grigjanis
    Dave @34: I was wondering whether quidam was privy to any developments since this University of Alberta study (PDF). I’m guessing not.

    Reclamation plans use the mainstream science available at the time and are modified as knowledge improves. This is a relatively recent paper 2011 so it is unlikely that it’s finding have been incorporated yet.

    34Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach
    Approx 1 sq.km “reclaimed” versus approx 176 sq.km of lethal toxic tailings ponds, speaks for itself.

    It does speak and mostly it says WTF?

    1 km2 has been certified i.e. it has been reclaimed and monitored for ~20 years.
    12 km2 of wetlands has been reclaimed and is being monitored
    36 km2 of terrestrial land has been reclaimed and is being monitored
    15 km2 has had soils replaced in preparation for reclamation
    468 km2 is in use or disturbed
    170 km2 has had trees harvested but the soil is relatively undisturbed

    Reclamation isn’t instant, nor is it reasonable to suggest that it could be. The fact that reclamation is monitored for decades before being certified demonstrates that it is hardly a rubber stamp – and that the government and companies are indeed ‘environmentally aware’

    Frankly, you are either deliberately ignorant, or a shill for the oil companies. Either way, I see no profit in addressing you further.

    Oh please, a shill? Ad hominen is the best you can come up with? I accept that it’s not perfect and can be improved but neither is it the ecological disaster conducted by villains oblivious to any environmental impact. I am not paid or employed by the oil sands industry or government. However I am a mining engineer and if it can’t be grown – it has to be mined. If you don’t like that then don’t drive a car, use a computer, consume electricity, or otherwise participate in the modern technological society

  39. imthegenieicandoanything says

    The fact that “conservatives” foam at the mouth about how we “worship” our Kenyan-Muslim Grand Emir Obummer should really convince any party new to the divide in American politics that ALL “conservatives” are, always and in every way, lying sacks of insane shit.
    We Libs pretty much can barely put up with his policies.

    Oh, yeah, they foam at the mouth pretty much 24/7, don’t they? Whether praying to Jesus, opening a beer, watching porn or cramming down that third Big Mac, foaming occurs.

  40. kraut says

    “However I am a mining engineer and if it can’t be grown – it has to be mined. If you don’t like that then don’t drive a car, use a computer, consume electricity, or otherwise participate in the modern technological society”

    Thank you sir, I am living in the BC Northeast oil patch with shale gas and oil production and thousands of kilometers of pipelines. The lively hood of tens of thousands in Northern Alberta and Northeast BC is dependent on oil and gas production, and we have to live here and we are keenly aware of potential impact and actual environmental impact, an impact has been and constantly is reduced by government and company policies.
    We – all of us, the whole economic network – are dependent on primary energy sources, which oil and gas are. There is simply no way that to any serious extend sun/wind/wave energy at present or even in the near future could either reduce significantly or eliminate the use of those primary fuels, especially as motive transportable power.
    Hydrogen with its low caloric density and derived production is a pipe dream, hydro power that would be needed to produce it is environmentally as unfriendly as it gets – I live near two dams as well, so I know the amount of land taken out for forestry, agricultural and wildlife habitat is immense, solar and wind are too unpredictable to be serious contenders in the long run.

    I am however absolutely against shipping any products from Canada to the US, we loose about thirty % in income because at present we are hostage to the american refineries and the american energy market place. I see the only viable solution in transporting oil and gas to western and eastern Canada ports to sell to the far east, to avoid the stranglehold of our dependence on the US.

    We also have to consider the use of shale gas for electricity production, to get away from the use of dams especially in light of their tremendous use of viable land, the loss of CO sequestration by destroying forest lands and the production of excess carbon by tree removal. We will have in the not too far future the situation that the far east will have enough production capacity for methane to not longer need the Canadian or US as a main supplier.
    In the mean time – the US is likely to have enough production to become self sufficient in oil by the later 2000′s, oils sands or not. Which will finally get rid of the middle eastern grip on our economies.

  41. unclefrogy says

    ah yes carbon sequestration. funny how we always leave out some details. what are the real costs if we leave out details because they are too hard or we are just not yet aware of them yet.
    we’re so fucking smart!
    uncle frogy

  42. madscientist says

    Obama’s been doing a lot of grandstanding lately, but until I see something happen I’m all with the Russians on this one in assuming he’s just mouthing off. CO2 sequestration – yeah, spent 6 years working on that – it’ll work in some places, not at all in others, and the more I learned over the years the more I had very serious doubts about the optimistic early forecasts of how much we can store. Still it’s some small measure if anyone bothers to do it on a large scale. Almost 10 years have gone by and there are still only a handful of CO2 sequestration projects so overall that’s currently storing some infinitessimally small amount of CO2. I haven’t kept in touch with developments, but I’d guess 10GT released. Given the inadequacy of governments around the world, my guess is that CO2 keeps pouring out until we’ve used up all the oil, gas, and coal.

  43. madscientist says

    Whoa .. stupid markup screwed up my previous post. I was trying to say I guess less than 5MT CO2 stored vs. over 35GT CO2 emitted last year.

  44. unclefrogy says

    the carbon sequestration I was thinking of was that which occurs in peat bogs. the idea that we could sequester carbon is interesting but if we could sequester carbon in a form as stable as a peat bog we would not have a carbon fuel problem at all. Finding some place to pump CO2 gas is ridiculously optimistic and short sighted, sounds more like a harebrained scam to me.
    uncle frogy

  45. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    There is simply no way that to any serious extend sun/wind/wave energy at present or even in the near future could either reduce significantly or eliminate the use of those primary fuels, especially as motive transportable power.

    Not this shit again.

  46. quidam says

    47 unclefrogy
    Finding some place to pump CO2 gas is ridiculously optimistic and short sighted, sounds more like a harebrained scam to me.

    And evolution sounds like a harebrained scam to creationists. The argument from personal incredulity is no more valid when applied to engineering than it is when applied to biology

  47. says

    Azkyroth quoted:

    There is simply no way that to any serious extend sun/wind/wave energy at present or even in the near future could either reduce significantly or eliminate the use of those primary fuels, especially as motive transportable power.

    Not this shit again.

    Seriously. Unsupported assertions based on decades-old dimly remembered propaganda. Fucking shills.

  48. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    In the mean time – the US is likely to have enough production to become self sufficient in oil by the later 2000′s, oils sands or not. Which will finally get rid of the middle eastern grip on our economies.

    Ahem

    BWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  49. quidam says

    Seriously. Unsupported assertions based on decades-old dimly remembered propaganda. Fucking shills.

    Then please explain how this is to occur. What energy can be supplied by sun/wind/wave, what area is needed to capture this low density energy and where can it be placed without objection by people who fight windmills every bit as vehemently as you do oil sands mines. While you’re at it, explain how we’ll get the minerals and rare metals needed for high capacity novel batteries without opening mines – which will require removing trees, affecting topography and disturbing wildlife somewhere. Reclamation won’t result in a landscape identical to that before mining, just similar.

    Sons of Martha have to deal with realities, you Sons of Mary can be smug and rest assured the Angels on your side.

    To use your colourful vernacular: “Fucking self righteous ignorant twats”, who rely on engineers to keep their computers, lights, air conditioning on and then piss on them for building ugly mines to do it with.

  50. kraut says

    “Seriously. Unsupported assertions based on decades-old dimly remembered propaganda. Fucking shills”

    Not so funny when someone without any evidence or supporting calculations (wheres the beef what it would cost to replace all non mobile and mobile conventional energy sources with alternative sources?) Remember, you are making the claim it can be done, so you better show the calcs what is needed to do it instead of mouthing off some bullshit ideas brewed in the hot California sun.
    Ever calculated with stats the amount of replacement electrical energy to replace all carbon based energy? I had done some back of napkin calcs and roughly an added 60% of hydro power is needed.
    That does not include the added power (carbon production anybody) to produce the increase in electrical infrastructure from the plants to consumer, the question what kind of plants, what sacrifices to land and environment, what increase in mining to produce said infrastructure and the fuel for those plants.
    Mouthing of stupidities and sitting there feeling smug – i thought that was the privilege of believers without evidence…ahh I forget, you believe in alternative energy happening by magic, with no cost, and no drawbacks, no r any economic costs to employment and a vast shift of investment into unproven territory with high risks of setting the whole alternative ship squarely into the sand. Man. how like a fundy you sound.

  51. Rob Grigjanis says

    quidam @52: I don’t blame engineers. I blame the federal and Alberta governments, and energy corporations, for persistently lying about environmental impacts, fighting transparency at every turn, and portraying concerned citizens as ‘extremists’.

  52. kraut says

    “I don’t blame engineers. I blame the federal and Alberta governments, and energy corporations,”

    Why blame anybody those? Who makes the final decision to travel, to heat their houses, to drive to and from work, to be part of the western economic system?
    Don’t lie to yourself just because you think pure energy thoughts you are forgiven for the sin of participating in this economic system that brought wealth, relatively secure jobs and decent healthcare and a semi democratic system to the majority.
    We are all bound in this at present, and unless we cut our energy use extremely to the detriment of the whole economic system -there is no avoiding the consequences of our activities.
    Do not kid yourself, there is no golden road leading to an alternative energy paradise solving environmental problems in a foreseeable future.
    That road is at present not even clearly visible, there is aside from uranium and hydro (with environmental potential catastrophic impacts) no reliable and economically feasible baseline energy production, no real alternative to mobile fuel sources that are not secondary and demanding a primary source of energy to produce with losses.
    Do you really think that any one working for money is willing to take the risk to either severely cut down on energy consumption (with attending unemployment, loss of funding for your precious Canadian healthcare and pension funds) or invest heavily in so far economically not viable and overall unreliable energy production – don’t tell me that at present prices wind and solar are even close to being viable, despite heavy investment both in europe and the NAs.

    The baseline – we are too many demanding all to much and only a tiny minority really willing to forgo the benefits of a technological society. That is being honest with yourself, and not spouting inanities about “shills” by some Californian asshat.

  53. says

    Do not kid yourself, there is no golden road leading to an alternative energy paradise solving environmental problems in a foreseeable future.

    More lies from the oil cult.

  54. Rob Grigjanis says

    Don’t lie to yourself just because you think pure energy thoughts…

    What the fuck are you talking about? We change or we die. Go along with conservatives and oil companies, and more of us die. Purity has nothing to do with it.

  55. Azuma Hazuki says

    Thermal solar (think mirror farms and a GIANT tank of molten salt in the desert) could and would provide huge amounts of baseload power for the southwestern US. They’re also cheaper and easier to build than nuclear. Colder and/or less sunny regions are going to need nuclear, and fast, preferably third or even fourth-gen designs.

    At some point the government is going to need to step up and do the research and installation of clean nuclear as a matter of national security. IMO the only reason they haven’t is that corporations are now the de facto government, and oil corps are huge.

  56. says

    @ kraut

    Do not kid yourself, there is no golden road leading to an alternative energy paradise solving environmental problems in a foreseeable future.

    Environment = Society.

    Our environmental ills are diagnostic of profound societal ills. Weaning ourselves off our materialism would both enrich our lives and resolve environmental issues by living within the planets capacity.

    The “benefits of a technological society” are being ever more outweighed by their social/environmental costs. Our culture and technologies pander to avarice, and such worst aspects of our natures, rather than that which we are, social animals. Consider all the inherent good that could flow from working with and towards a culture and technology in keeping with our better, social, human nature.

    The American model of development has run blindly after the ideal of “Freedom”, but in doing so has created naught but dependency. It is now being exported throughout the world. The problems today are as nothing compared to what they shall be in the future if we maintain the current materialist paradigm.

  57. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @Kraut : Have you seen this clip? :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yA_kRejp0

    ‘Energy Efficiency Part 2′ by Greenman3610 aka Peter Sinclair :

    Using less energy, and generating with renewables, is easier, cheaper, and more effective than fossil fuel funded propaganda would have you believe.
    Here are some great examples of why it’s not only smart, it’s patriotic, too.

    Seriously please check it out.

    Also please check out some of the many ideas suggested by the likes of NASA climatologist James Hansen notably Fee-and-divided plan alternative discussed in his Storms of My Grandchildren’ text (pages 209-222) and there’s a number of other books written specifically on ideas for low carbon futures such as Monbiot’s Heat’ and Marshall’s Carbon Detox’ to name just two examples I’d recommend.

    We need to be innovative and use technology positively building for a future where fossil fuel use is much reduced and alternatives and renewables take over a sour main energy sources.

  58. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    See also :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2vzotsvvkw

    Kirk Sorensen on thorium energy a better nuclear alternative which could be one useful energy source in the future plus the Ocean Thermal System once suggested by Jerry Pournelle in one of his books – A Step Further Out’ (Ace publishing, 1979) on pages 21 to 24.

  59. kraut says

    “Strip out the handouts, and investing in wind and solar energy would be nonstarters, the manager of Exxon’s energy demand and supply forecasting division told Reuters last week.

    “It’s an uneconomic niche and our business is not built around the expectation of a bunch of subsidies to make a profit,” said Scott Nauman, manager of the economics and energy division at Exxon. “We want a business that is robust on its own merits.” Wind energy, for example, is constrained by several factors — wind farms can be located only in windy areas and backup coal or gas facilities must be used when it isn’t windy enough, he said.

    “We spend a lot more time than you would think studying the economics of wind and the economics of solar energy,” Nauman said. “But when you go through all the economics, it is just not attractive.”
    http://www.off-grid.net/2005/05/31/esso-turns-away-from-renewables/

    Oil companies are energy companies, meaning that the only way the biggest producers of energy will be investing is by making a profit.
    That is the basics of our economy – the capitalist economy. The alternative: to get government to take over, offer incentives to produce at present non viable technologies (see the http://www.climateconversation.wordshine.co.nz/2013/06/billions-burned-in-german-solar-debacle/ for the effects of government subsidies.) or: http://www.naturalnews.com/034234_wind_turbines_abandoned.html
    for the effect of pushing with subsidies unreliable energy sources.
    And as for government controlling the market and the economy: that was that Russian and eastern European thingy, until the truth came out: we pretend to work, you pretend to pay us. There was no economy to happen.
    So, how does any of you propose the turning over of the global economy from oil and gas to “alternative” but actually working energy sources. Please list those alternatives (about that sodium heat storage – man, i have heard of that in the seventies already, and it must be so frigging effective that everybody is using it by now, eh? But I guess some conspiracy is going on to stop that.
    And as to materialism – if you live where I live, you would enjoy every bit of materialism to get you through six month of winter, to keep a warm house, to be able to drive to work and actually eat some decent food.
    “Consider all the inherent good that could flow from working with and towards a culture and technology in keeping with our better, social, human nature.”

    Sorry bud, after having lived here for 65 years – there is some benevolence in small groups like family – but not even there in most cases. There is no “better” human nature, we can be both cooperative or competitive, all a matter of personal interest and self gratification, the drivers of our “nature”. We are here, we take advantage of nature and ourselves till something gives – and until it gives things will not change. Even those dreams of changes from an Arab spring have turned into an Arab winter of discontent. And we all want to live a safe and secure live – and non materialism has not been able to give that to us, as the long centuries of low tech have proven conclusively…just read a little history of the life of the common man in pre technological societies…not a pretty picture, from tyranny by religion to tyranny by outright power, a miserable existence of the common man, the farmer, the tradesman, the labourer.

  60. says

    @ kraut

    all a matter of personal interest and self gratification

    Perhaps we should emphasise, for the sake of people reading your comments, that you speak only for yourself here.

    We are here, we take advantage of nature and ourselves till something gives – and until it gives things will not change.

    Again, very much your own attitude. There are endless examples around the world of cities and communities that are bucking this trend. Using their intellects (very cheap and energy efficient to run) to resolve environmental problems. And, importantly, to change the mentality that you describe.

    And we all want to live a safe and secure live – and non materialism has not been able to give that to us, as the long centuries of low tech have proven conclusively…

    I live in a very old, dilapidated part of Hong Kong. You could even describe it as squalid, cockroach and rat infested, and patrolled by feral cats. But here is the point: It really is wonderful and thriving community. It is engaging and life affirming and abounds in art, music and all manner of culinary delights. And safe! Our daughter can walk back home at 3 in the morning without fear of harm. We have no car¹ but get around with ease on foot or with public transport. As opposed to freezing for 6 months of the year, it is so hot that one cannot function without airconditioning. So yes, we are perhaps not the best example of what can be (I can think of very many improvements, on many levels). But we are a part of the way there. Have a look at the stats for total energy consumption per person (Pfffffft of All Knowledge): USA = 83,617 kWhr/a while Hong Kong = 22,774 kWhr/a. A single American burns up the energy needs of three-and-a-half people Hong Kongers.

    These are very personal circumstances we are comparing. It is just a quick response to you, but would rather suggest looking into a comparison of energy consumption vs life expectancy, life satisfaction etc amongst more global figures. Case studies are also a good way to examine how people have adapted to energy efficient approaches.

    Pumping energy into an social/built environment that makes one miserable will only make one more miserable. It is the environment that must adapt. The objective is not to pretend more energy=more happiness, when this has clearly failed.

    ¹ We actually bought a SAAB convertible when we arrived here. If ever there was a symbol of the delights of materialism, that was it. But later we realised there was no point. We gave it up and never missed it since. You may say, “Ja, but theophontes we rely on our cars!”, to which I respond: “that is my point.”

  61. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    “Our business is not built around the expectation of a bunch of subsidies to make a profit,” said Scott Nauman, manager of the economics and energy division at Exxon.”

    Oh. So they won’t miss the huge fucking subsidies and tax breaks, then?

  62. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Please list those alternatives (about that sodium heat storage – man, i have heard of that in the seventies already, and it must be so frigging effective that everybody is using it by now, eh? But I guess some conspiracy is going on to stop that.

    “Conspiracy” underestimates the amount of blind flailing involved, but yes, resistance from entrenched business models is a major factor in the slow development rates of alternative energy.

    As for the rest of your flailing and sputtering, that’s what they said about whale oil and slave labor. Put a sock in it.

  63. elind says

    Jadehawk
    26 June 2013 at 8:15 pm

    i hate willfully ignorant people.
    http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/02/14/5-myths-about-keystone-xl-debunked/192668#jobs

    I don’t hate willfully ignorant people, but I don’t respect them.

    I didn’t make any statement about the significance of jobs to the US regarding the Keystone. In truth it will probably lose some due to the more efficient transport of oil by pipeline rather than other tanker options and all the overhead that requires.

    We probably agree that the Keystone is not a major “jobs” benefit to the USA; but what we don’t agree on is the point I made that you are willfully ignorant about; meaning that the Keystone has no effect on whether the low efficiency and high carbon emissions of the tar sands extractions continues or not.

    Isn’t that what most willfully ignorant critics of the Keystone think is their goal?

    Canada has given no indication it will stop this project. What it has said is that it would like a trans Canada pipeline to the west coast of Canada, probably partly financed by China.

    You appear to be willfully ignorant that Keystone or not (never mind the unrelated objections to the pipeline) there will be no change in greenhouse emissions from tar sands oil, nor to the environmental damage in Canada.

  64. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The problem I have with Keystone is not that I am concerned it will not generate jobs, but rather that it will generate them in the wrong sector–namely fossil fuels. It will also generate profits, leading to yet more blinkered, self-interested denialist clowns.

    We can either commit to the energy infrastructure of the future–and in so doing get there before anyone else, allowing us to reap huge profits selling infrastructure to others–or we can stay mired in the muck of petroleum and coal, with all the pollution, corruption, anti-science idiocy and damage that portends.

    Simple choice.

  65. rr says

    kraut:

    about that sodium heat storage – man, i have heard of that in the seventies already, and it must be so frigging effective that everybody is using it by now, eh?

    Molten salt is being used by solar plants in Spain. The solar plant in the Mojave Desert uses oil.

  66. elind says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    28 June 2013 at 9:49 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment
    The problem I have with Keystone is not that I am concerned it will not generate jobs, but rather that it will generate them in the wrong sector–namely fossil fuels. It will also generate profits, leading to yet more blinkered, self-interested denialist clowns.

    Your problem misses the point altogether. The Keystone is just a transport medium. Building it or not will have no effect at all on the policies towards renewable energy. As to profits, do you prefer deficits?

  67. quidam says

    The jobs argument is specious. It doesn’t justify anything. I don’t care whether jobs are created or destroyed in Canada, the USA or the Middle East. We might be able to employ thousands of people to harvest organs from the third world but it wouldn’t justify it.

    You appear to be willfully ignorant that Keystone or not (never mind the unrelated objections to the pipeline) there will be no change in greenhouse emissions from tar sands oil, nor to the environmental damage in Canada.

    Disagreeing with someone does not imply that you are wilfully ignorant. Any more than disagreeing with creationists means that you’re wilfully ignorant about their arguments.

    No on has denied that there is an environmental impact to oil sands mining. There is an environmental impact to all human activity. Solar farms in the desert will destroy delicate ecosystems. Hydro-electric dams destroy river valleys, fish habitat and leach heavy metals. Windmills kill birds and bats. Manufacturing high efficiency batteries means mining, refining and transporting toxic metals. Feeding the expanding population means converting natural landscapes, fertilizer mines, animal sewage, slaughterhouses. Housing the population means cutting down trees (every year logging cuts 400 times more area of the Canadian boreal forests than had ever been affected by oil sands mining) and destroying natural landscapes

    So the question is not ‘does it affect the environment’ but ‘it is better than the alternative’ and what can we do to mitigate the effect.

    The lifecycle emissions of Albert oil sands oil is 107 g CO2 equivalent per megaJoule. which compares to 104 for US Gulf Coast Oil, and 114 for California Heavy.

    Alberta has cut per-barrel GHG emissions from the oil sands by an average of 26% (and over 50% at some operations) since 1990, and has recently (last month) presented a proposal to sharply increase levies on carbon production and force oil-industry producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40%.
    All from a government and industry that is ‘not environmentally aware’.

    I would rather have the production in a country where the citizens can keep effective pressure on their governments and industry, than move it to countries where there is theocratic or autocratic dictatorship. Or maybe you think the Saudi Royal family or Nicolás Maduro will listen to your concerns?

  68. quidam says

    Molten salt is being used by solar plants in Spain. The solar plant in the Mojave Desert uses oil.

    I think you missed the sarcasm. Carbon sequestration is happening now too

    Both technologies are relatively new but it’s not an ‘either-or’ choice. And we’re not even close to running cars on solar power outside of local city cars.

    But be realistic, Spain is a leader in this technology – it has the sunshine that Alberta doesn’t, and it’s entire solar capacity is ‘only’ 4gw. More significantly, Spain’s per capita power consumption is 650 watts compared with 1,400 for the USA and 1,600 for Canada. If you do the math and compare populations, you’d have to ‘destroy’ huge tracts of southern USA desert with solar farms that would make the oil sands footprint seem miniscule. And Canadians could cover the entire prairies with solar farms and would still freeze to death in winter.

  69. elind says

    quidam
    28 June 2013 at 12:25 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment
    The jobs argument is specious. It doesn’t justify anything. I don’t care whether jobs are created or destroyed in Canada, the USA or the Middle East. We might be able to employ thousands of people to harvest organs from the third world but it wouldn’t justify it.

    You appear to be willfully ignorant that Keystone or not (never mind the unrelated objections to the pipeline) there will be no change in greenhouse emissions from tar sands oil, nor to the environmental damage in Canada.

    Disagreeing with someone does not imply that you are wilfully ignorant. Any more than disagreeing with creationists means that you’re wilfully ignorant about their arguments.

    This blog system is rather primitive regarding chaining comments and responses. I simply point out to you that, if you read back, it was another who implied (and mentioned hate) that I was willfully ignorant and I replied with implied sarcasm that that commentator was willfully ignorant.

  70. says

    I didn’t make any statement about the significance of jobs to the US regarding the Keystone

    lol. let me quote that again:

    not building the Keystone (which will also serve US oil wells) will only result in economic and job losses for the USA

    so not only are you willfully ignorant, you’re a liar. good times.

    You appear to be willfully ignorant that Keystone or not (never mind the unrelated objections to the pipeline) there will be no change in greenhouse emissions from tar sands oil, nor to the environmental damage in Canada.

    it’s adorable how you think you can read my mind in regard to what I think the effect of KeystoneXL will be on carbon emissions. Because you’re certainly not reading any of it on this thread, since I haven’t been discussing it.

  71. says

    As to profits, do you prefer deficits?

    for fossil fuel companies? of course. that’s unrealistic right now, but like i said: driving up the cost of doing oil-business by almost any means available = good.

  72. elind says

    Listen up Jadehawk,

    Doing the LOL thing when you think you have an argument labels you as a juvenile, as does calling someone a liar when you miss the argument by a mile.

    Yes, I did make the jobs statement as an afterthought to the main point, and in a subsequent comment after further reflection suggested that it might actually cause a loss of jobs in tanker transport industries which may possibly exceed the pipeline jobs after completion.

    It is you who haven’t been reading, since you did not address my main argument, and still haven’t. Is this what you call debate, adorably? Really?

    Your economic analysis by pretending that objectives can be achieved by simply artificially driving up costs for political posturing reasons is naive in the extreme and will not achieve the objectives that we both (which you LOL about) actually agree on. Childish.

  73. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Solar farms in the desert will destroy delicate ecosystems.

    ROOFTOPS. PARKING LOTS. Fucking hell.