Friday, June 11, 2021

How is that oil supposed to get places?

     "People are the worst," says my older son, a phrase I keep in my back pocket for frequent reference, a sort of half explanation, half benediction. Actually, he puts a little oomph on the last word, "People are the worst!"
     Although, in their defense, people are great about learning new words. For my entire career, I've trotted out five-dollar words in this column, sometimes because they're apt, sometimes just to show off. Either way, readers invariably take it well, some even write in, grateful to learn a new term.
     Words like "juxtaposition." Setting one thing next to another, for comparison and contrast. To clarify a point that otherwise might be elusive.
     For instance. Remember in early May, when cybercriminals shut down the Colonial Pipeline? Suddenly people were panicked about gas shortages and price spikes. That video of some idiot (people ... are ... the ... WORST!) filling a garbage bag with gasoline. My guess is that nobody greeted the Colonial crisis with "Hooray hackers! I hope the pipeline never re-opens."
     Now draw a line from that to this week, with the Keystone XL crude pipeline finally scuttled after years of fighting environmentalists and Native-American protesters. Good news, right? Fight global warming! Three cheers for tribal activism!
     Let me ask you this: How is oil supposed to be transported? Because if it doesn't go by pipeline...

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  1. Pipelines are the worst! then there's oil extracted from Canadian tar sands. fracking . leisure travel. joy riding . SUVs. Air travel . Air pollution . ocean cruises .So many bad behaviors so little polar ice

    1. Easter Island was just a microcosm of what we have today.
      Kept cutting down their trees, knowing at some level that they wouldn't be there forever unless they found a better way of life. It was too easy to maintain the status quo.
      Same today, but at a much larger scale. We know we are screwing things up big time but aren't willing to truly make the changes that are needed.

  2. A grand slam with this one, NS.

  3. Don't know enough about the issue, but equating opposition to the Keystone to being down on all pipelines seems a stretch. The same kind of dissonance seems to be at play in the kerfuffle (an odd word not used enough) over the metal recycling plant. Recycling metal would seem environmentally sound. The people in the area involved want investment and jobs but just not those jobs.

    Have always been grateful for your lack of reluctance to use unfamiliar terms. Made me think of a very descriptive word I've never encountered except in a lovely lyric by the 17th century poet Robert Herrick.

    "When as in silks my Julia goes,
    Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
    That liquefaction of her clothes."


    1. It's all very complicated Tom. That metal recycling plant is being relocated from armtage and elston , wealthy residents , to the south east side., Working poor residents. The nature of the complaint. People living over the fence from toxic metal dust in the air.

      The keystone pipeline transports tar sands , shale oil a very shitty means of extraction. The pipeline was relocated away from wealthy subdivisions to a watershed on sacred native american land.

      On the surface sensible or necessary infrastructure and exploitation of natural resources impacts negatively the most vulnerable while benefiting the investor class disproportionately.

      The hidden costs of fossil fuels and manufacturing land upon those without power.

      Many existing pipelines and dirty manufacturing have historically been located similarly.

      I did cheer the malware pirates. Gasoline has got to go.

    2. I think I've seen "liquefaction" used in a more homely, less poetic sense, but Herrick's use surely paints a sweetly flowing picture of Julia's sensuous motion.


  4. Like so many other things, oil pipelines have their pluses and minuses. Tha alternative? Long strings of rail tank cars, which have their own drawbacks. I'm thinking of that runaway oil train that derailed in the heart of a small Quebec town in 2013 and exploded next to a music club on a Saturday night, incinerating almost fifty people.

    The pipeline that really scares the crap out of me is the one that runs underneath the Straits of Mackinac, near the bridge. Try to imagine Lake Michigan and Lake Huron covered in an oil slick, and eventually St. Clair and Erie and Ontario. It would be the biggest and worst environmental disaster in American history. I try not to think about it. Who okayed that one? And were there even any alternatives?


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