While Bob Shannon (Letters, 4/19) already responded to Bob Sweigert’s slam against Keystone pipeline protestors (4/17, “Stop the pipeline — and frisbees too”), I want to add something.
Canadian tar sands oil is not the kind we drill for. This reserve of oil might be as large as the one under Saudi Arabia, so why not go after it? In Canada, you don’t just drill a hole and pump oil out of the ground as you do in the Middle East. You have to shave off the overlying landscape (forest and all) and then plow up the tarry mess.
You then have to inject a huge amount of chemical infused steam to separate the thick oil from the sand. This requires a huge input of fossil fuel energy — in some cases, as much or more than the energy you get out of the tar sands oil itself. This makes for a “zero sum game” in terms of net energy yield, and you are left with a devastated landscape in central Canada.
Next, you pipe the oil across the whole central US, risking spills along the way, and it ends up in Texas, where it is sold on the world market. Much of it will likely end up in China. This does not bring jobs or energy security to the US. The only winners are Trans Canada Corporation and the palms they grease. What about American jobs?
If you read studies NOT commissioned by Trans Canada, only a few thousand temporary jobs in the US will be created (mainly, digging the holes to build the pipeline). This only contributes to the “business as usual” model of moving oil around to protect obscene profits for the industry. And what of climate change concerns as we transfer more carbon into the atmosphere? The oil companies have successfully sold the ridiculous idea that the science is “controversial”.
It appears Sweigert is concerned that alternative energy will kill our way of life and allow our rivals to walk all over us. Just the opposite is true. Much of the developed world is far ahead of us in implementing new energy technologies, and we are the ones who will lose freedoms if we continue to cling to the past.
People are protesting the Keystone XL pipeline because it makes no sense. It makes no economic sense, no energy security sense for our country, and no environmental sense for Canada or the world. Solutions are here, NOW, and all we have to do is embrace them. The Truckee PUD is a great place to start if you want information. They listened when our town did not want to buy cheaper energy from coal fire power plants, and they helped me install a solar system on my house.