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Sunday, September 04, 2011


Donald Pay

The pipeline shouldn't be built if the goal is energy security for the US.


Ken Blanchard

Donald: the article you cite is interesting and thoughtful, but it simply restates the argument I have addressed above. I am sure that Canadian oil refined at Port Arthur will be sold to whomever is willing to pay for it. Right now that may be China. We cannot predict who it will be in a few years, let alone a decade or so. At any rate, more oil on the world market has to decrease pressure on energy costs. I don't see how that can be bad for our security.

Likewise, I don't see how Canada can gain some measure of independence from the U.S. (that is a silly goal if indeed they are pursuing it) by shipping more oil through the U.S. to our refineries. Surely it is the opposite. It means that the U.S. and Canada will be more interdependent. That is a key element of American security, as I stated.

Donald Pay

Excuse me. The point is the Keystone XL decreases the interdependence of the US and Canada. Also, it makes it far more likely that domestically produced oil from the Bakken in ND will be shipped out to China, not used in the US.

It's not like I haven't thought about this long and hard. I have some inherited mineral rights up in Williams County, ND. Right now we're trying to figure out whether we are going to participate in some oil drilling, lease the rights, or just wait to be force pooled. I prefer not to produce the oil at all. Although I'm the owner of the mineral rights under a certain portion of land, I have no right to what happens with my property. Big oil controls the rights to most of the pool, and since I'm a little guy, I get run over by the rich and powerful oil interests. So, if they're for the Keystone XL pipeline to steal my property and sell it to China, then I'm against it.

Ken Blanchard

Donald: did you turn into a parrot? You keep saying the same thing over and over again, but logic says the opposite and you offer no arguments. How can one more pipeline through the U.S. make Canada less dependent on the U.S.? It can't.


(Hey, I thought I submitted a comment yesterday! I included many links: perhaps the spam filter was twitchy?)

"If it does, might it not..."? Ken, you sound pretty iffy here.

The immediate effect of the Keystone XL pipeline will be an increase in prices at the pump, as Keystone XL clears the Midwest "glut" of oil at Cushing OK and closes the price gap between West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude. TransCanada and oil market analysts see this as the clear intent of the pipeline. How do higher oil prices help U.S. national security?

Now let's travel down some of your "if" roads, Ken. Suppose there is some disruption of foreign supplies. If that disruption is a giant solar flare that wipes out the entire Eastern Hemisphere while we slumber peacefully, then sure, the Canadian tar sands oil will end supplementing our supplies. But suppose the disruption is something less Irwin Allen or Roland Emmerich. Suppose it's just a good old-fashioned embargo, with Chavez and the sheiks deciding they are tired of our money. Do TransCanada and the refiners stop exporting to China and India and hand their oil to us out of the goodness of their hearts? Or do they expect us to outbid China in a suddenly tight oil market? Or do you expect us to nationalize the pipeline and the refineries to expropriate the oil for ourselves? The latter sounds like great fun... but it also sounds like a recipe for war with Canada and China.

Now I suppose there is some Rube-Goldbergian foreign policy we could play here. We help Canada ship that tar sands oil out to the export market as fast as possible. We get China hooked, and then whenever they act up, we remind them that one of their main energy arteries runs right across our heartland, and that we could pinch off that supply with one little EPA or PHMSA order at a moment's notice. In a twisted way, Keystone XL could boot our national security, not by decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, but by increasing China's dependence on foreign oil.

But that argument, along with your argument above about getting those pipeline and refinery jobs in the U.S., is akin to saying, "China's going to do opium whether we like it or not. We might as well get something out of his addiction. Let's deal drugs!"

Dependence on fossil fuels only delays progress on the search for energy alternatives and increases the possibility for conflict. Sustainable national security depends on sustainable energy.

Donald Pay

I keep saying the same thing over and over because it is empirical fact, and you are arguing from some sort of twisted ideological "logic," which, unfortunately for you, is pure bunkum. I don't know where you are getting your so called "logic," but it has nothing to do with reality. Cory has provided a pipeline of facts for you but you keep coming back with "logic' that is simply made up.

Ken Blanchard

Donald: you provide slogans, innocent of innocent of empirical facts or logic. I have yet to see real evidence that the crude refined in Texas will really go to China. I expect it to go wherever there is a market for it. That is how the market is supposed to work. Meanwhile, a pipeline through the U.S. is a pipeline through the U.S., and not through Canada to the West. A pipeline through the U.S. is under U.S. control. That is as straight forward as logic gets.

Ken Blanchard

Cory: When I said "if it does, might it not", I was being facetious. I didn't expect that to go over your head. I take it as obvious that, if the American economy begins growing again, it will need more oil.

One moment you are telling me exactly what will happen to gas prices three years from now if the pipeline is built, and then you become skeptical when I argue that one more secure source of oil might be a good thing if there is a disruption in the world oil market. All of this talk about where the oil is going is speculation. It will go where there is demand for it and I am sorry if I lack confidence in your clairvoyance.

Oil is a resource for modern economies. Events sometimes happen to constrict the supply. It is a good idea to have other sources to rely on. Am I going too fast for you? Ask the Japanese empire in the years just before Pearl Harbor. That wasn't an imaginary event.

In a real crisis, there will be vicious competition among powers for oil, as you seem dimly to understand. I don't expect oil producers to do anything "out of the goodness of their hearts." I do expect them to recognize who controls the pipeline and the refineries. In any event, the fact that the Keystone pipeline crosses the U.S. and ends in Texas will give the U.S. leverage that it would not have if the oil field were unexploited or it a pipeline were built across Canada. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.

Your last comments give the game away. You are not really concerned with American energy security unless it is the right kind of energy security. You have a dream. You want us to run short of oil in the expectation that this will stimulate the search for "sustainable energy alternatives".

There are two problems with this strategy. One is that it will require a dramatic increase in energy prices. That will mean higher prices for everything produced with energy which is everything. Okay, you are willing to let everyone pay that price.

The second problem is that there are no "sustainable energy alternatives" on the horizon. Wind power and solar energy cannot possibly supply more than a fraction of the energy we will need for the rest of this century. We've been told for the last forty years that fusion power is a decade away. It isn't.

I really do encourage you to keep up your war against oil. Convince the Obama Administration and the rest of the Democrats to tie their flag to your dream. As for me, I will believe in your "sustainable energy alternatives" when you suddenly start telling us that they are bad ideas, violate property rights, and endanger national security. That is when we will know that they are real.

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