Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day

It's Earth Day!  Two years after the Deep Water Horizon explosion, and we're still cleaning up the Gulf.  Recently, reports of eye-less shrimp are making the rounds of the news, including Fox News, which begs the question about whether we'll ever know the full extent of the Gulf Oil Spill disaster.  Mother Earth is a tough old broad, but even she cannot quickly adapt to every crisis.

On a related front, positive steps still happened on the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The newly proposed route will bypass the Sand Hill region and cross the Ogallala Aquifer in an area where the water table is further from the surface.  If you believe Freedom Works, the Keystone XL Pipeline is needed to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.  This claim denies two things.  First, that getting the oil to the Gulf of Mexico does not mean that it will be available for domestic consumption.  Refineries in Texas and Louisiana are already running at capacity.   There is so little give in this system that if one refinery is shut down for maintenance, the price of gasoline spikes.  The supply-demand issue at hand is not about the supply of crude oil, but the supply of the finished product gasoline, which is determined by refinery capacity.  The other issue is that Canada is a sovereign nation, and oil that comes from its tar sands is still foreign oil.  Maybe we should have fought the War of 1812 with more gusto, but not conquering Canada in 1814 means that it is a foreign country.

We're still stuck with a number of issues.  We remain reliant on gasoline to power our transportation system.  We're looking at pumping a viscous sludge through a pipeline, not flowing crude, to refineries that cannot process the sludge, but are next to ports that can export this overseas.  And, we're not looking at alternatives - building refineries closer to the source that can process the tar sands into less corrosive forms before moving them, or building pipelines to Canadian ports on the Great Lakes, which would protect American habitats and force Canada to deal with the externalities created by their own extraction industry.

Happy Earth Day.  We're making a mess of her.

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