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Spilling the Truth
Author: BobR    Date: 04/01/2013 13:04:50

Today being April Fools Day, I was tempted to write some absurd piece of fiction as a joke, but I really wasn't feeling that creative this morning. So instead, I will focus on something a bit more serious that seems to have gotten ingored in favor of the manufactured Google doodle "controversy". At the risk of sounding like a broken record tree hugging liberal, I am looking at a disturbing story out of Arkansas, where a broken tar sands pipeline has polluted an entire neighborhood.

The Exxon pipeline (why is it always Exxon?) ruptured in a residential neighborhood, sending 2000 barrels of oil throughout. Does 2000 barrels not sound like a lot? At 42 gallons per barrel, that's 84,000 gallons. This is why oil companies report the amount in barrels. Imagine 84,000 barrels of toxic heavy gritty tar sands oil oozing through your neighborhood. Did these people even know there was a pipeline in their neighborhood? Some did not. What about your neighborhood?

FYI - This is what a suburban oil spill looks like:

If this all seems vaguely familiar, it's because Exxon had another spill 2 years ago that fouled the Yellowstone river. In that one, about 1000 barrels (42,000 gallons) spilled into a pristine waterway. That disaster is just now making its way out of the courts - this new one will send them right back in again. That spill was also the heavy tar sands oil from Canada, the same stuff that would be coming through the controversial Keystone pipeline.

That pipeline was a major talking point during the 2012 campaign. Republicans touted it as a magic bullet that would create jobs, lower gas prices, and rescue the economy. None of that was true, of course. Independent analysis showed the number of jobs that would be created to be much lower than touted:
Yet exactly how much work Keystone, a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would transport oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast, would generate remains in dispute. Transcanada (TRP), the energy giant bidding to build the pipeline, projects the undertaking would create 20,000 jobs in the U.S., including 13,000 positions in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing.

That figure, based on a report by a consulting firm hired by Transcanada to assess the project's economic impact, has been widely cited by Keystone backers on Capitol Hill. Other estimates advanced by supporters of the pipeline have been even more optimistic, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claiming it could create 250,000 permanent U.S. jobs.
But subsequent analysis suggests that Keystone's job-creating potential is more modest. The U.S. State Department calculated last year that the underground pipeline would add 5,000 to 6,000 U.S. jobs. One independent review of Keystone puts that number even lower, with the Cornell University Global Labor Institute finding that the pipeline would add only 500 to 1,400 temporary construction jobs. The authors of the September report also said that much of the new employment stemming from Keystone would be outside the U.S.

Transcanada itself cast doubt on its employment forecast when a vice president for the company told CNN last fall that the 20,000 jobs Keystone would create were temporary and that the project would likely yield only "hundreds" of permanent positions.

Another reason for the discrepancy appears to stem from what that 20,000 figure really means. As Transcanada has conceded, its estimate counted up "job years" spent on the project, not jobs. In other words, the company was counting a single construction worker who worked for two years on Keystone as two jobs, lending fuel to critics who said advocates of the pipeline were overstating its benefits.

Republicans were willing to use eminent domain to secure land for a pipeline through sensitive and/or populated areas carrying heavy toxic oil sands for a Canadian company to be used for making gas that likely wouldn't be sold here in the U.S. - all for a couple thousand temporary jobs. As these two oil spills illustrate, there is no such thing as a secure pipeline.

Incidents like this serve to remind us that we are on the wrong track to continue the use of fossil fuels. Spills like these and the BP oil spill in the Gulf and oil companies unable to get drilling platforms safely to Arctic locations (much less start drilling) show us that oil is becoming more and more hazardous. Natural gas - once touted as a clean alternative - is becoming it's own nightmare as fracking in the US is polluting ground water, and creating earthquakes elsewhere. Artic melting is so extreme that some areas are greening up.

Where does this end? When does this end? How many more oozing black nightmares will we need to experience before we as a nation (and a world) get serious about renewable energy? It is way past time to make the change.

Remember - a solar power spill is just another term for a nice day.

112 comments (Latest Comment: 04/02/2013 03:03:49 by livingonli)
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