It’s been several years since the public last debated oil pipelines and the need to move this vital commodity from its source to the refinery. When oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay in 1968 the entire country was abuzz. Environmentalists back then cast gloom and doom with tales of oil spills and their harm to sensitive Alaskan wildlife. What was considered an engineering marvel; a steel pipe zigzagging over 800 miles of frozen tundra from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to the port of Valdez, is now just another means of oil distribution.
President Richard Nixon approved the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1973. It took a consortium of seven oil companies three years to build it. The pipeline accounts for approximately 15 percent of U.S. domestic oil production annually.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is 48 inches in diameter. It crosses three mountain ranges and more than 500 rivers and streams. It was the largest privately funded project at the time costing more than $8 billion. To date it’s moved well over 16 billion barrels of oil through a pipeline that includes four leak alert systems checking for pressure deviation, flow rate deviation, flow rate balance and line volume balance.
The pipeline traverses over three major Alaskan earthquake fault lines and as a testament to its engineering greatness it withstood a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 2002.
Now with our country facing its worse unemployment condition in many decades, President Obama is holding up construction of what could be another critical national energy project. The TransCanada Corp.’s proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline is more than just another pipeline in our existing network moving oil from its source to refineries in Texas and Louisiana. It’s an opportunity to reduce our demand on foreign oil, add real “shovel ready” jobs (unlike Solyndra) and increase our supply of oil for decades to come.
Some opposing the project on environmental grounds claim the Ogallala Aquifer flowing beneath Nebraska would be threatened in the event of an oil spill.
There are currently 17 major oil pipelines located in Nebraska with 21,000 miles of pipelines crisscrossing the state. Did anyone complain about those pipelines before Keystone XL came along? And speaking of pipelines, there are enough oil and gas pipelines in the United States to circle the earth 100 times. This additional trunk line is hardly any concern.
President Obama blames Congress for delaying Keystone XL on the grounds Republicans didn’t give his State Department enough time to study the issue. They’ve been studying it for three years. It was Obama’s decision to bargain with Congress that forced his hand. He agreed to extend the payroll tax reduction with the condition he render a decision on Keystone within 60 days. Not even waiting 60 days, he finds he doesn’t have the stomach to approve a project his liberal left base despises.
Let’s face it. This president is an ideologue who believes government planning is essential for all infrastructure projects. He’s playing politics on the backs of the jobless, dislikes oil despite the economic benefits it generates, and perpetuates his blame game with Republicans.
If Canada doesn’t sell their oil to America then they’ll sell it elsewhere — likely China. And to all you global warming fanatics; just do the math. Is it better to move oil through a pipeline from our friendly neighbor Canada or transport it from our friends in Venezuela and the Middle East in tankers?
Or perhaps there’s another alternative we’re missing. The State Department notes that with a modest expansion, railroads could move Canadian oil into the United States. Of course the major player here would be Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC railroad. How convenient is the Obama administration’s decision to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline permit?
Just imagine all that dirty hot carbon Buffett’s train fleet would spew into the atmosphere. Almost as much hot air as Obama’s excuses for delaying the Keystone XL oil permit in the first place.
Richard Esposito is publisher of Village Life. E-mail him at [email protected].