American Elephants


Another Train Derailment: Thanks Green Activists! by The Elephant's Child

derailment  - credit Bob Aaron-WCHS(photo by Bob Aaron-WCHS)

A CSX train composed largely of tanker cars derailed this afternoon in Mount Carbon, West Virginia. Adena village, a neighborhood close to the derailment, was evacuated after one residence caught fire when a tanker car slammed into  a house and burst into flames.

One tanker car went into the Kanawha River, and some cars exploded. All but two of the 109 cars were tankers loaded with Bakken crude from North Dakota, headed to Yorktown, Virginia. At least 14 tank cars were reported to be on fire, and there is burning oil on the Kanawha. Some cars have exploded, and at least one sent a fireball at least 300 feet in the air.

Two water treatment plants have been shut down to prevent oil from getting into the water supply. Residents will continue to have water for the next 6 to 8 hours due to an emergency reserve supply.

Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline keep reminding the environmental activists that oil trains have a record of derailing, sometimes with considerable lost lives,  and that a pipeline is immeasurably safer, but it doesn’t sink in. The oil will go to market, whether by pipeline, train or truck. We have many pipelines crossing the Midwest because they are safer and thriftier.

Our economy runs on oil, coal, natural gas and in some places—hydropower and nuclear energy. If we want an economy, and goods to supply the economy, we must have energy. Solar arrays and wind farms produce little energy, and must have 24/7 full-time backup from a conventional power plant. Sounded nice to depend on the sun and the wind, but it was always hooey, and a scheme to enrich favored cronies with government subsidies.

It was not known at the time of this report if anyone was injured or killed.



The Political Maneuvering About Climate Change by The Elephant's Child

The Senate voted on Wednesday that “climate change is real and is not a hoax” — an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline vote sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) which passed, to Democrats’ astonishment, with only Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker  voting ‘no.’

In a surprise, the Senate’s leading skeptic of climate science, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), voted in favor of the amendment — but made clear he doesn’t believe humans are the primary driver of climate change.

The Hill apparently regarded this as astonishing. Democrats think they have accomplished something, for they regard Republicans as “climate deniers,” which is another of their false tag operations. The climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and the Medieval Warm Period, and the Roman Warm period when the climate was milder. Nobody denies that there is climate change.

The news has been full of the claim that 2014 was the “hottest year” on record, based on unreliable surface thermometer records and even that refers only to four-hundredths of a degree — which is hardly significant. The only significant measurements of global temperature are the satellite temperatures which indicate that temperature changes since 2001 are “statistically insignificant.” We have had satellite measurements for 36 years.

The only place where climate alarmism is rampant is in climate computer programs where they try to predict the future based on a representation of earthly climate they have programmed in. Unfortunately, the predictive ability of the programs cannot even produce the temperatures of today or any time in the past 36 years when we know what the global climate was. GIGO.

The idea that the Keystone XL pipeline has any effect on climate is preposterous. Climate scientist Roy Spencer PhD who runs the satellites out of Huntsville AL commented on the ‘hottest year on record.’ His website has some excellent short explanations of climate change and what we know and what we don’t.



Obama Is Right, So He Will Not Alter His Views! by The Elephant's Child

pipeline-transcanda-537x402

President Obama said today, during a press conference in Myanmar, that a looming vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives to approve the Keystone XL pipeline would not alter his views on the project. He accused GOP leaders of falsifying the numbers of jobs created by the pipeline.

Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices,” the president said, issuing some of his strongest language yet against Keystone.

I have also noted that, as policy matter, my government believes that we should judge this pipeline based on whether or not it accelerates climate change or whether it helps the American people with their energy costs and their gas prices,” he added. “And I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States, or is somehow lowering gas prices.

The president’s “strongest language yet” reveals nothing quite so much as the fact that he has no understanding at all of how an economy works. Look at how he transforms the project from a benefit to both nations into a greedy Canada using us to transport their oil which they will sell all over the world — with no benefit to the U.S. at all. He is apparently speaking to the same stupid voters that Jonathan Gruber says they tricked into approving ObamaCare.

TransCanada spelled out the number of jobs that would be required, 13,000 construction and 7,000 to build the pipeline materials, for a total of 20,000. Then there are spin-off jobs. The workers have to eat, be sheltered, buy gas for their cars. The U.S. has stalled Canada for so long, that the Canadians have made other plans for a pipeline to the West Coast and one to the East Coast, so there may be less oil being sent down to Texas, but I believe that sector is still needed. I’m just confident that the Canadians will no longer trust the U.S. to do what it claims it will.

Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is fighting for her Senate seat in a runoff election, and the Democrats have pulled their money out. She introduced the bill in the Senate in a two-hour plea to the chamber. She is hoping her effort will persuade Louisiana voters to return her to office.

Democrats in the House and Senate are not as protective as they were before the election in which they feel he really let them down. It quickly passed the house 152-161 with 31 Democrats crossing over to vote in favor, and one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (MI) voting “present.” The Senate will vote on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal mentioned:

Someone should tell the President that oil markets are global and adding to global supply might well reduce U.S. gas prices, other things being equal. A tutor could add that Keystone XL will also carry U.S. light oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. So even if he thinks that bilateral trade only helps Canada, he’s still wrong about Keystone.

The oil will be transported to the market. The world needs the oil. It is currently being transported by oil train tanker cars. Trains derail, sometimes spectacularly, and sometimes kill people. Pipelines are safer.

sns-rt-us-crude-train-explosion-20131108-001



Pipelines, Fundraisers and Campaign Cash. Canada’s Had Enough. by The Elephant's Child

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The Obama administration has been holding up for six long years, any real decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline that would bring oil from the oil sands of Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. Approving the project would have provided 20,000 well-paying  construction jobs, boosted the economy and helped to lower the price of oil on the world market, and reduce the influence of Russia and OPEC  in world affairs. The whole project was a huge win-win for both the United States and Canada.

Well, Canada has had just about enough. They are in the process of developing alternatives —one of which is a 2,900 mile pipeline that would carry a million barrels of oil a day from the oil sands region to the ice-free port of St. John, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. There it would be refined and then shipped to customers around the world on supertankers. The Energy East Pipeline is a $10+billion (US dollar)project where an existing oil superport and refinery could export that oil to world markets, including India which is hungry for more energy.

Canada has already approved their Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline to Kitimaat British Columbia, a 1177 kilometer pipeline. That one is waiting approval from the many First Nation tribes that it would cross. There is also a 710 mi long Trans Mountain pipeline system operated by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners running from Edmonton, Alberta to terminals and refineries in British Columbia, Vancouver and the Puget Sound region in Washington. Kinder Morgan says expanding the existing pipeline, which they want to do by twelve times, is cheaper than Northern Gateway.

It is hard to over emphasize how annoyed the Canadians are over our failure to proceed on a mutually beneficial project because Obama wants campaign money from wealthy ideologues. Reuters says Canadian crude exports to the United States topped three million barrels per day last week. Much of this oil is moving by rail. Without a pipeline to a refinery and supertanker port, the U.S. is virtually Canada’s only buyer. Canadians are subject to price discounts of as much as $43 a barrel that cost Canada something like $20 billion a year.

The White House’s blockade of the Keystone XL hasn’t stopped domestic Fracking or development of Alberta oil sands. Instead, the industry transports oil and natural gas with 19th century technology — rail. Seven out of every ten barrels from North Dakota’s Baaken shale move by rail, and total carloads of crude have increased 4000% since 2008.

So naturally the president’s regulators are looking at the dangers of trains. The 2003 Lac-Mégantic oil explosion killed 47 people and destroyed parts of the Quebec town, an agency called the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is imposing new rail tank car design standards. Within three years, most of the 334,869 cars in the North American fleet must be retrofitted with thicker steel jackets, heat shields, better brakes and so on. Regulators, of course, claim to be acting in the name of rail safety, but according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) 99.9977% of potentially dangerous cargo arrives without incident.

Hardening of tank cars might prevent 0.0023% of accidents. Most (88%) of derailments are the result of cracked, split or washed-out tracks and welding. The need is for more track maintenance and inspection. The other major cause of derailment is human error. The real motive seems to be to force tens of thousands of tanker rail cars off the rails and slow the oil and gas development to which the enviros object.

Bloomberg has a long and fascinating article on Canada’s efforts to solve Obama’s intransigence over the Keystone XL, and their own need to bring their mother lode of crude oil to market. With one project, Energy East will give Alberta’s oil sands not only an outlet to eastern Canadian markets, but to global markets. Canadian oil and government interests feel they’re being played by Obama as he sweeps aside a long understood “special relationship” between the world’s two biggest trading partners to score political points with environmental supporters at home. (The Bloomberg piece includes maps that explain the pipelines).

It’s clear that his will be a huge benefit for Canada. The projects span the whole country, uniting Western oilfields with coastal shipping. The Keystone XL may still be built sometime, but failure to deal with our close friend and neighbor to the north in a timely and honest manner has deeply damaged a longstanding relationship and we missed out on jobs and economic growth for the sake of Democrat politics.



Opposition to Keystone Pipeline is a Big Loser for Obama by The Elephant's Child

The House of Representatives passed legislation that extends transportation funding through September. Attached to the bill is a mandate for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. President Obama threatened to veto, but 69 Democrats abandoned the president to vote with the Republicans.The bill passed in the House 293 – 127. That is a significant number of defections.

Speaker John Boehner said” “The House is on record again in support of the Keystone XL pipeline — a project President Obama blocked, personally lobbied against, then tried to take credit for, and now says he’ll veto. There’s no telling where the president stands from one day to the next on Keystone, but he knows the pipeline has broad and bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.”

President Obama was widely criticized for his opposition to the pipeline, and his objections had little support in fact. It was a major affront to the Canadians, and has certainly not improved relations with our closest neighbors. There are 20,000 jobs n prospect, many in construction, many permanent, and many spin-off jobs in the surrounding economy. The pipeline had been approved by the State Department and vetted by every applicable agency, but the Greens are opposed, because they are opposed to fossil fuels.

A lot of Democrats up for re-election are well aware of how popular the Keystone XL is, and support for the Keystone is growing in the Senate. In a vote last month 11 Democrats joined the Republicans 47 votes, which is not far from the 60 required to break Harry Reid’s filibuster. People want this thing.

This puts Obama in a very difficult position. If he chooses to veto, the veto would probably be upheld in the Senate, as overriding the veto would take 67 votes. But attempting to stop it would hurt Obama, who has already been badly damaged by his earlier intransigence. Obama may believe that Americans don’t know anything about  the problem, and won’t notice, but that would be a bad gamble.

An inevitability to be much desired.



Hard Choices: What’s Right Or What Will Buy Votes. by The Elephant's Child

Expectations about public policy have an enormous impact
on the market price of gasoline.

Holman Jenkins, writing in the Wall Street Journal, points out that candidate Gingrich’s energy  plan would put “the U.S. government unambiguously in favor of cheaper gasoline. He’d arguably be the first president since Reagan who didn’t believe gasoline is a bad, obsolete product and priced too low.”

Don’t underestimate the psychological and political upheaval this would bring about. For decades, U.S. policy has been riven with a costly ambiguity about Washington’s real aim for gasoline prices. In 2008, both parties nominated climate warriors for president, and both parties at times have favored dramatically increased fuel-mileage mandates, which imply higher gas prices unless Washington intends auto makers to go broke selling vehicles consumers don’t want.

For decades, too, the EPA, in pursuit of relatively small air quality gains, has been allowed to balkanize the U.S. refining market with “boutique” fuels, driving up the price everywhere. For decades, environmentalists have been empowered to put domestic resources off-limits not just to preserve pristine nature, but to express disapproval of our energy “addiction.”

Every once in a while these urges even threaten to coalesce into coherence with an outright policy of higher gasoline prices, as when the Clinton administration flirted with a BTU tax or the Obama administration plumped for cap and trade.

Back in the real world, politicians are in a state of panic when faced with the higher gasoline prices that are a direct result of their policies. President Obama was confronted with this paradox  at the White House press conference this week. His response was interesting: “Do you think the president of the United States going into re-election wants gas prices to go up higher? Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”

When Obama took office, gasoline prices averaged $1.89 a gallon.  Today, here in Washington state, the average is hovering right around $4.00, though the national average is lightly lower. Democrats in Congress are considering ways to go after “oil speculators.” The president is more interested in going after the oil company CEOs. The 1%, you know.

On Thursday, the Senate voted on an amendment that would fast-track the $7 billion, shovel-ready Keystone XL pipeline. Eleven Senate Democrats crossed the aisle to vote to eliminate the need for a federal permit and addressed environmentalists concerns by allowing Nebraskans to determine the route. Senate Republicans voted unanimously for Keystone, which would bring 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta to gulf refineries, easing supplies and creating thousands of much-needed jobs.

The president put his press conference response aside and worked the phones hard, lobbying Senate Democrats, The final vote was 56–42, meaning a majority voted to strip the president of authority to block the pipeline, but it was 4 short of a filibuster 60-vote threshold to make it stick. Obama owns the Keystone XL Debacle.

Obama’s constant refrain “There’s no silver bullet” does not hold. Here are just a few things that could bring the price of gasoline down.  State and federal taxes on gasoline average 45.7 cents a gallon, with the  highest in New York at a combined 67.4 cents a gallon, and the low in Alaska at 26.4 cents.  A number of analysts have noted that the Fed’s devaluation of the dollar has led directly to higher oil prices, adding as much as 56 cents a gallon.

Federal and state rules require about 18 separate boutique fuels, or local blends, about what can be and can’t be in their fuels. Sen. Roy Blunt has offered a bill to give the EPA more authority to waive these local rules. There are a long list of environmental rules— in 1999 the EPA required refiners to drastically cut the amount of sulfur in gasoline and diesel which cost the industry almost $5 billion and $1.5 each year. Environmental rules have driven smaller refiners out of business, closing 4 on the East Coast which makes gas more expensive in the region.

Environmental rules require refiners to add 6.6 million gallons of “advanced biofuels” to their product. The law has cost refiners almost $7 million in fines, since these advanced biofuels don’t exist commercially and nobody knows if they will, which means bigger fines as the mandated amount increases.

So, there is not much that a president can do about the world price of oil, but there’s a lot that is quite possible to do in this country to lower the cost — if one so chose.



The History is Clear, Says Jay Carney; The Republicans Cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline by The Elephant's Child

I just wrote a whole post on how the Democrats consistently attempt to redefine problems away.  The American people have been justifiably angered at President Obama’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and the 20,000 jobs that the project would offer, beginning almost immediately. And the guesstimated 250,000 spinoff jobs along the pipeline route for restaurants, stores, truckers, that  the pipeline would generate as the pipeline stretched down from Canada to the refineries in Texas and Oklahoma are a tremendous loss to a country where the unemployment rate has gone back up to 9% according to Gallup.

Today’s redefiner is the hapless Jay Carney, press secretary.

“In terms of Keystone, as you all know, the history here is pretty clear. And the fact is because Republicans decided to play politics with Keystone, their action essentially forced the administration to deny the permit process because they insisted on a time frame in which it was impossible to completely approve the pipeline,” Carney said when asked about the pipeline by ABC News’ Jake Tapper.

Later in the briefing, Carney says it is the Republicans’ fault.

Jake Tapper: “How can you say that you have an all the above on approach if the President turned down the Keystone pipeline? And you blame the Republicans for making it political.”

Carney: “But the President didn’t turn down the Keystone pipeline. There was a process in place, with long precedent, run out of the State Department because of the issue of the pipeline crossing an international boundary, that required an amount of time for proper for review after an alternate route was deemed necessary through Nebraska at the request of the Republican Governor of Nebraska and other stakeholders in Nebraska and the region that needed to play out, to be done appropriately. You can’t review and approve a pipeline, the route for which doesn’t even exist.

“The Republicans were the ones who unfortunately decided because they were looking for scalps, I guess, or wins in a situation where they somehow found themselves on the wrong side of cutting taxes for 160 million Americans last December.”

After three years, we know that nothing is ever Obama’s fault. Bush left him a mess, and they just didn’t understand how deep the recession was. If they had known, then Obama wouldn’t have been comparing it to the Great Depression— Oh wait…

There was a process in place, with long precedent, run out of the State Department, that had all of the necessary approvals and a green light from every agency with any involvement, and all those pipelines already running through the aquifer with a long history of safety were all fine and the State Department was ready to go ahead until Big Green suggested that their campaign funding might not be available if the pipeline went through.

This administration really does have great contempt for the American people. We’re not just “bitter clingers” but stupid enough to believe anything the administration says.




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