I do not like going against a "party line" consensus on politically hot environmental issues, but I am one who takes seriously science, a matter now in dispute since creationists are now playing the "religious freedom" card in trying to support creationist teachers in public high schools. No, I am not going to deal with that issue in this post, but I want to make clear to the deluded supporters of Bill McKibben on the pipeline issue that if they wish to consistently and honestly stand up to these frauds pushing this distorted First Amendment line they must take their science seriously.
I am sympathetic with close personal friends who participated in the demos in DC on this recently. But, facts are facts, and in the end I think the most recent State Department report is mosly factually correct folks, the State Department draft statement on the XL pipeline looks to me to be the straight stuff, a serious study by reasonably knowledgeable people not personally or institutionally being paid off by oil or coal companies or anybody else, indeed going against the a priori views of their new boss at State, Kerry. So, this is not corrupted bs, but serious studies done before the capability for such studies is degraded by the disgusting sequester. It is for real, and, sorry my enviro friends, but this is like Alar. Anybody in the longer run supporting McKibben will simply look foolish, like those who freaked out about Alar. It is seriously unfortunate that so many serious environmentalistests (and partisan Dems) got themselves so worked up about this big nothing of an issue.
Bottom line: Right wingers and AFL-CIO whining about jobs are wildly exaggerating. A couple thousand jobs maybe for the next 2 years in construction, after that less than 100 in the long run.
Gag, this is a big deal? Sorry that the union movement in the US has sunk this low. And on the other side, nearly zero CO2 is involved in this decision, one way or the other. A big nothing in the end, all the way around, despite the hyperventilations emitted on both sides.
For environmentaists, get real. The US has 55,000 miles of crude oil pipelines and 95,000 mile of refined products pipelines. The XL project involves less than 2000 miles, and half of it is already approved and being built (south of Cushing, OK, actual site of where "Mid-Texas crude oil prices" are determend). If this is turned down, well, either the Canadians will build to the Pacific or the East Coast, although at higher cost either way, but anybody who thinks those wannabe Texans in Alberta will be deterred by a negative ruling from the US is not fully aware of reality.
No, folks, saying no to XL will not prevent the tar sands of Alberta from being dug up and burned. In fact, I wish they would not be, but the State Dept report very realistically recognizes that we have no authority to tell the Canadians what to do, and while the Albertans may be running around in ridiculous cowboy hats (and they do), the long history of US violations of international treaties with Canada on environmental issues puts us in a position of not being able to remotely open our mouths to them on this issue in any way.
Even within the US, given our massive existing set of pipelines, this is simply not a big deal. We are already seeing it. There were legitimate complaints raised about dangers to the underground water in the Sand Hill region of Nebraska. TransCanada revised their plan reducing the exposure of their line the sensitive water areas to a 10-mile line of possible underground water pollution in a rural area. OK. So maybe we could reduce this to zero, but this is getting down to a very small area to hold up a massively backed project, the alternatives to which will be much more expensive for the whole world economy, but which will happen anyway even if this project is not approved.
I suspect that strongly pro-dealing-with-global-warming new SecState John Kerry will, after the next half year of comments, eventually support this very dirty deal. And unless something I am not expecting shows up to show that this is much worse than it appears, I shall strongly support what I expect will be his decision to agree with the carefully done (if still mildly flawed) decision to agree to letting TransCanada support this pipeline. There will be later opps to deal with this seriously, and they will involve Kerry talking privately and fundamentally with the Chinese.
The real bottom line is that I have been very frustrated by this whole discussion. Both sides have made a stupid big whup about this, but, frankly the whole debate has been a pathetic joke given that on both sides very few jobs or CO2 emissions are involved (For those of you who do not know what "epsilon" is, well, that is what the late and famously eccentric and brilliant mathematician, Paul Erdos, used to call children, including to my face, me quite a few decades ago).