Posts Tagged ‘fossil fuels’

KEYSTONE PIPELINE UPDATE: PROS & CONS

When President Obama initially vetoed the TransCanada Corporation’s proposed $7 billion Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline (also known as the Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project),  it meant that 830,000 barrels of oil a day would not travel from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf’s oil refineries via a pipeline.  Though a politically popular decision with environmentalists,  it was very unpopular with construction unions, as well as most Americans.

To counter criticism, some from leaders in his own political party, President Obama made an appearance in Cushing Oklahoma on March 22, 2013  saying that he would fast-track any required permitting of the 485 miles of pipeline traveling from Cushing down to the Gulf.  That part of the proposed pipeline is on privately-owned land in the U.S. so President Obama couldn’t do much to stop its construction even if he wanted to.  Without the northern leg of the pipeline, however, the 830,000 barrels of much-needed oil/day wouldn’t be coming from Canada and this leg of the pipeline the President could and did stop because the pipeline would have to cross the Canadian-American border (and therefore required Federal approval).

TransCanada subsequently modified its proposed route through the environmentally-sensitive areas of Nebraska and resubmitted its application.  There was not much remaining that was controversial and the U.S. State Department  found it to have “no significant impacts on the quality of the human environment,” which is the wording and standard contained in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).

The Keystone pipeline is not simply about oil, but also about  thousands of jobs (estimated to be 20-40,000  construction and 100,000 indirect jobs) and significant positive effects on the economy.  It’s therefore important to analyze President Obama’s decision to determine if it’s mostly political or based on genuine detriments to the environment.

It’s no secret that the far left is anti-fossil fuel because of what it perceives as unacceptable pollution.  To this end, the Obama Administration came out with 5 sets of anti-coal regulations which were estimated to cost the United States  the loss of over one million jobs.  In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is zeroing in on anti-fracking regulations to control the utilization of the huge natural gas reserves (over a 100-years worth) in the U.S.; however,  the far-left contends that its opposition to the Keystone Pipeline  is mainly because of possible leaks from the line.  In addition, formerEnergy Secretary Chu had stated that it would be desirable to have U.S. gas prices at European levels ($8-10/gallon), so that alternative fuels would be more price-competitive.

Carbon emissions in the United States have been drastically reduced over the past 50 years.  Autos emit only a tiny fraction of what they used to.  Coal-fired power plants have been cleaned up.  In contrast, China brings on-line  two new coal-fired power plants a week and these plants, unlike U.S. plants, emit lots of pollution.  Air pollution knows no boundaries, so it’s a lot less polluting to the earth for the U.S. to burn its coal rather than for China.

Solar and wind sources of energy only supply about 5% of the nation’s energy needs.  Hydroelectric supplies less than 10%, nuclear about 19% (France gets 80% of  its energy from nuclear).  So for the foreseeable future the U.S. still needs fossil fuels.  Therefore this dilemma is not really a dilemma at all.  If the U.S. cannot get the oil it needs from domestic sources and help improve the economy and create thousands of jobs at the same time, it will get it from foreign sources and give up to $500 billion a year of its wealth to countries that don’t like us and in some instances mean us harm, and to the detriment of the economy as well.

The United States is constantly improving  extraction and utilization methods for fossil fuels, while continuing to develop alternative sources of energy, including nuclear energy.  The potential for Keystone Pipeline leakage can be mitigated through built-in protective redundancies.  Even the original Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), prepared pursuant to NEPA, published in late August 2011 after three years of preparation, found “no significant impacts” from the pipeline.  If a pipeline oil leak did occur, it’s far easier to stop it and then clean it up, than if a leak occurred from an offshore pipeline.

There’s simply not enough alternative energy, including nuclear energy, currently available and it will be decades before there is, so for now we need fossil fuels and the United States has more natural gas, coal, and oil than any other country in the world, but it also has an array of laws and regulations preventing its access and use.  The pipeline could be raised off the ground, as was the Alaska pipeline, or it could detour around the major 200,000-square-mile Ogallala or High Plains Aquifer in Nebraska and other surrounding States.

If the United States does not build the Keystone pipeline, Canada will build an oil pipeline from the Tar Sands to its west coast and the 830,00 barrels of oil a day will be sold to China and an additional 150,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota will have to continue to use trucks and rail to haul its oil south to Gulf refineries rather than simply using a safer Keystone Pipeline to transport it.  U.S. gas prices would have consequently been over $5 gallon by now except for the fact that the U.S. economy has been so weak and Saudi Arabia drastically reduced the price of oil by flooding the world market with it.   Contributing to upward price pressure of oil is the “slow-walking” of permitting of wells in the Gulf,  not allowing drilling in ANWAR and on most of the Outer Continental Shelf, and by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), who sets world oil prices based on world supply and demand.

President Obama delayed his decision  on the pipeline until after the 2014 mid-term elections, basically because a large Democrat donor (Tom Steyer)  pledged to donate over $50,000,000 to the Democrats if he did so (Steyer actually spent close to $80,000,000).  After the 2010 mid-term elections, the new Republican-led House of Representatives voted to build the pipeline but the still-Democratic-led Senate voted against it.  The 2014 Congress began in January 2015, and both the Republican-led House and now Republican-led Senate approved it, but President Obama vetoed it.

President Trump signed an Executive Order on January 24, 2017 ordering the re-opening of the approval process for the pipeline.  On March 23, the State Department granted a permit for the construction of the pipeline to proceed.  The pipeline has been completed and is in use.  There was a minor oil leak in November ’17 and the pipeline was temporarily shut down.

 

 

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IS CLIMATE-CHANGE DUE TO SOLAR FLARES OR IS IT MAN-MADE?

Global warming, cooling, or climate change: terms that have been politicized to the extent that one has to question the sources of all data and facts cited to prove or disprove: 1) whether global warming, cooling or climate change even exits, and if it does, 2) is it man-made or caused by something else or a combination of both.  Further, if it does exist and is mostly man-made, 3) how bad is it and, 4) can anything be done to significantly stop it if it’s  bad enough to warrant being stopped.  If we can answer each of these concerns, then we’ll know what to do, if anything.   Here’s my analysis:

1) Whether the earth is warming, cooling or staying the same basically depends on the point in time you select to compare this year’s  earth’s temperature to.  For example, a few hundred years ago the earth went through a “Little Ice Age” (1280-1850 AD) so of course today’s temperatures would be  warmer than then.  You may cite the melting Arctic glaciers as other evidence of global warming.  OK, but you need to consider that glaciers wax and wane over time and when Arctic ice is waning, Anarctic ice is waxing.  In other words, climate constantly changes (there was a “Medieval Warm Period” from 900-1300 AD and it was a few degrees warmer than today’s temperatures).  Over thousands of years the Earth has cooled and gotten warmer and cooled and gotten warmer, etc.  In fact, the Earth has had 5 major Ice Ages over the past 2 billion years,  5 periods of serious global cooling.

2) In the last few hundred years some data suggests that the earth appears to have warmed and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased, so a case can be made for there being a correlation between the two.  Remember, however, correlation doesn’t mean causation.  Scientists do know that there is a significant correlation between Sunspots and weather on earth.  However, how much of the recent warming is due to CO2 and how much is due to Sun spots and Solar Flares is suggested by the fact that although atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased, the earth’s temperature has remained almost the same, which suggests that carbon dioxide has little or no effect on the earth’s temperature.

3) Is any global warming, cooling, or climate change cause for alarm and action?  Thus far, it’s been relatively minor and any slight increase in the earth’s temperature is probably a good thing…more crops, better weather.  Of course, the adverse effects  from the previous huge California drought, specifically the lack-of-water problem in California’s Central Valley was 100% man-made by former President Obama’s policy of manipulating stored water for the Delta Smelt, a small fish on the Endangered Species List, rather than use it for the cropland and farmers that lived there and for the thousands of migrant farm workers that helped harvest their crops.  Insofar as extreme weather activity is concerned, the past half-century has seen fewer major hurricanes and extreme tornado activity in the United States.

4) Can anything be done about global warming , cooling or climate change if  it gets really bad in the future?  Sure, there are various ways to reverse global warming but not global cooling.  My preference is, if there is global warming,  the geoengineering proposals that seem preferable because they affect every country equally and do not harm any country’s economy.  So what should be done now, if anything?  “Watchful waiting” is in order but everyone needs to endeavor to get global warming or climate change out of politics because it should be solely a matter of science.  The Kyoto Protocols were rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1997 by 95 to 0.  And well they should have been, because the tlargest polluters, China and India, were exempted.  Moreover, the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord because the Accord did nothing to help the environment but would have cost America $3 billion/year that would be redistributed to other countries.

Recall the “Hockey Stick graph” scandal in which a team led by a professor at the University of Virginia created a graph  that eliminated data depicting the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period  in an effort to support the global warming hypothesis.  Then the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) actually and unbelievably included the misleading graph it in its Third Assessment Report.  Therefore, I believe it prudent to be very skeptical of any data depicting global warming or cooling.

With help from the Sun, the Earth’s climate changes constantly and gets warmer and then cooler.  People contribute some, but for the most part it appears the Sun is to blame.  From my course in meteorology at Penn State University,  I  learned that “yes, climate changes all of the time…that is the very nature of climate…”  However, large sums spent on projects that attempt  doing something about it are not warranted until there is solid evidence and that we can significantly do something about it (unlike the political and do-nothing Paris Climate Accord).  Currently, claims of global warming are: 1) a ruse to give climate-study contracts to friends who will pay back significant sums (“kickbacks”) to politicians, and 2) used as a rallying cry by which the Democrat Party attracts and holds young, idealistic people to vote for them.

Data indicates the world is about to enter into a 25-year period of global cooling due to weak Solar Cycles 24 and 25.  Read Cold Sun and Dark Winter by John L. Casey, and chapter 2 (“A Less Giving Sun”) of the book, Twilight of Abundance by David Archibald if you would like to see the research on this.

Is climate change political BS or fact and can anything be done about it to make a significant difference?  We don’t know yet.  If anyone says “it’s settled science,” you need to know that nothing in science is ever completely settled.  I estimate that about half of scientists disagree with climate-change being mostly man-made.

 

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