« Democracy in Ohio | Main | Conspicuous Conservation as Costly Signaling »

Friday, November 11, 2011



I'll admit, the President's delay isn't the Keystone XL kibosh I was hoping for. It's a keenly calculated political move, freeing the President from having to face a hot issue that could have made his base sore. Still, don't we generally praise managers who can achieve results with the least effort? A delay for alternative routing spends less political capital than an outright denial. While I find it somewhat maddening, too, isn't it possible that sometimes the most practical decision is to not make a decision?


This President is a coward. He knows we need this pipeline, but he does not want to have to deal with the supporters or the people who want to have less oil available. This has been studied to death and they have jumped through all kinds of hoops, only to be made to jump through more. Some people just do not want to tell us where they stand on certain issues. It is easy to not have any true convictions.

Bill Fleming

The Senate committee's jobs bill sounds good. What are the chances the Senate and the House will pass it?

Donald Pay

Your statement, "The Keystone XL pipeline is either a good idea or not," indicates you really don't understand decisionmaking process under NEPA. The issue is whether the federal agency in charge of the decision has adequately assessed the proposal and alternatives that might lessen significant environmental impacts. Clearly the State Departments environmental process was flawed. Siting an oil pipeline over a major aquifer that could be destroyed with a large leak is not a good idea, and the fact is alternative routes might be better. Or it could be that the "no action" alternative is better. The NEPA process is meant to assess alternative plans to find the one with the least environmental risk. In doing so it also looks at economic risks as well.

Obama himself probably had little to say on this. The State Department screwed up the NEPA analysis badly, and attorneys advised them they were probably facing being on the losing end of a lawsuit that would have outright killed the project, unless they redid parts of the study.


"lessen significant environmental impacts"

What Environmental Impacts? The Aquifer is in no danger what-so-ever. There are already many other pipelines in the area. The resistance to this is just political....and nothing else.

"Siting an oil pipeline over a major aquifer that could be destroyed with a large leak is not a good idea, and the fact is alternative routes might be better"

Obviously, you know nothing about Thermodynamics. Oil can not seep into the ground. The viscosity is to great, and the oil is this case will not be heated. The Pipleine has an automatic valve system to contain a spill at any point along the route. The spill will never be large enough to have an effect on anything. Runoff already contaminates our water resources 10 Fold of what any oil spill could...so it is an absolute strawman arguement.

The pipleine route only traverses (1) Aquifer. The Ogalala Aquifer. The area in which it will Tansverse this Aquifer is very small, and at that location, the Aquifer is 100 ft below the surface. Majority of the soil type thru North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska is a Clay. This is only adds an even larger satey net for containment.

Also, the pipeline is a unique design. This pipe will use stronger and higher quality steel than any pipeline out there. Specifications similiar or better than what the military requires. Also, this pipleine will operate at a much lower pressure than any pipeline in the world.


Donald Pay

"Oil cannot seep into the ground." Oh, Jimi, http://mn.water.usgs.gov/projects/bemidji/results/fact-sheet.pdf


Wow, Jimi, cite "evidence" from the very TransCanada contractor lying at the heart of the conflict-of-interest scandal that has prompted an investigation by the State Department's inspector general. Are you new at TransCanada's blog troll office?

DuggerSD, the pipeline has not been studied to death. Very specifically, State did not thoroughly study alternative routes, which is exactly what the President is requiring now.


(Sorry: forgot Ken's comment box won't take HTML! Here's a link on the inspector general's investigation: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/science/earth/inquiry-into-keystone-xl-pipeline-permit-process.html)




I am gonna try to be nice, but it is very difficult.

1.) This paper is to technical for you, because what you failed to realize is, that it actually supports my position.

Try to keep up!

The specific gravity of the crude oils that would be transported in the pipeline ranges from about 0.85 to about 0.93, less than the specific gravity of water. These crude oils, therefore, tend to float on water. In the paper you cited this is proven. The total range at which the oil that was left in place on purpose for research purposes, tranversed at total 120 ft downstream within the water table in 30 years. This is not impressive destruction, especially since the clean up effort was cut short for research purposes.

2.) There is a difference between the terms "Water Table" and "Aquifer." The Water Table is the elevation at which soil is saturated. The "Aquifer" is the total system water way that is at saturation point or greater, and is at a pressure greater than the atmospheric pressure. The Ogalala Aquifer in "Unconfined", this creates a major problem for your position, because it impossible for a single oil spill, or even a series of oil spills to contaminate an area greater than 50% of the region which was surface contaminated, and this is assuming no clean up effort is made. All based on viscosity and specific gravity difference. This is the real explaination why throughout our history, we have had so many oil spills, with very little contamination to driking and irrigation water used from Aquifers.

3.) The average depth to the water table in the projected route is 75 to 125 ft. In the research paper you provided, the Water Table was 18ft. This depth difference plays a major role in spread and containment. Also, Stansbury's report has been shown to be severly flawed. His assumed drain-down takes a worst case senerio, 7.9 Million gallons....This.Is.Impossible...Why? Because the monitoring and valve system will not allow that much oil to leak. The system is base on pressure, volume, tempertaure, flow rate. Even a leak as small as 1 Barrel per day can be detected. Stansbury got his Hydrology incorrect as well. He assumed that when a leak occurs, that oil will sink to a depth realted to how much oil is spilled...This.Is.Incorrect.

Oil is similar to Water, and it always runs downhill. Therfore, since the oil has a lower specific gravity than water, Oil will rise not sink! Oil will flow tranversely and not sink.

These are all basic Engineering principles that the Left seems to have absolutley no clue about.....a fifth greater understands this better.


Is Jimi talking about runoff from that Wyoming pipeline break?

Donald Pay


When you make extemist, blanket statements, such as "Oil can not seep into the ground," you can't expect to be taken seriously.

Thanks for quoting TransCanada's critique of Stansbury. I'm not sure this gets your side anywhere, however, since what is needed is that the State Department must contract for an independent assessment of the risks. This should have been done in the first place, rather than State just taking TransCanada's word for it. That won't cut it in terms of the science, the public relations and the likely litigation that will come out of this.

Stan Gibilisco

Cory says, " ... Isn't it possible that sometimes the most practical decision is to not make a decision?"

I say, "Yes, it's possible; but this President apparently belives it's not only possible but probable.

"I'd call him the 'present President.'

"Hello! We have a year of living to do (or is it surviving?) before the next election.

Mr. President, why not lay your cards on the table now, and play them for all they're worth? Please serve as the leader we elected and expected ..."

The comments to this entry are closed.