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Keystone Pipeline vs. California High-Speed Rail

Does anyone doubt that had this exact same route been for high speed rail, rather than a pipeline, it would already have been approved?

Jan 27, 2012

 

Families Protecting The Valley Newsletter
VOLUME 3 ISSUE 96 JANUARY 27 2012

 

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Denis Prosperi
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John "Dusty" Giacone
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Mark Watte
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Keystone Pipeline vs. California High-Speed Rail

Interesting article below contrasting the Keystone Pipeline vs. the High Speed Rail project in California. The timing is perfect in that the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce has as it featured speaker for its gala event on Friday night (Jan. 27th), Mr. Dan Richard, the newly appointed Chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority. He is Governor Brown's man to rescue this project from its current fiasco status.

We have all heard the promises about they will now listen to people, be fiscally responsible, and have a revised business plan that will work.
 
Unfortunately, the Governor's own words do not indicate a change in approach or attitude. By now calling people who have concerns about HSR, 'declinists' instead of NIMBYs, Neanderthal's, or Naysayers, he is just using a fancier word to still demean citizens and groups whose livelihoods, homes, and businesses are threatened by this project.
 
Instead of trying to work cooperatively with the agricultural folks, High Speed Rail seems determined to destroy the economic infrastructure of this Valley that has taken decades to develop. A responsible approach would be to try to make the project compatible with our existing infrastructure.
 
We continue to be dismayed by the attitude of some of the leaders in the Fresno area who have exhibited no concern for the effect of HSR on their neighbors in other areas of the Valley, but rather are only interested in whatever meager benefit they will gain from the HSR project going through Fresno. Perhaps, someone needs to investigate the purported benefits for Fresno, They may find like many others that the benefits are greatly exaggerated, and the detrimental effects grossly underestimated.




Keystone XL: Voting for the Stone Age


Forbes

Warren Meyer


Yesterday, as expected, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a private infrastructure project meant to bring Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refineries. In doing so, he was not quibbling over the pipeline’s route, but pandering to a group of his supporters who want nothing so much as to roll back modern industrial society.


Ostensibly, Obama made the decision to block the pipeline because of concern over contamination of the Ogallala Reservoir, a vast underground water source that makes much of Midwestern agriculture possible. And I am sure there are folks whose concerns are narrowly about the Ogallala or other enivornmental and NIMBY concerns along the proposed route. But the US has tens of thousands of miles of petroleum pipelines, many cris-crossing this same general area. There is nothing unprecedented or unmanageable about this particular line. Had these routing issues been the actual problem, the Obama Administration could easily have approved the line with conditions or route modifications.


But local environmental concerns were merely the public pretext for a decision that is much more troubling. Opposition to the pipeline began to rally among radical environmental groups long before any of them had the first clue about the pipeline route. The real goal of these groups was not to protect water along the pipeline route, but to make it impossible to develop new sources of oil in Canada. Unable to stop Canadian oil drilling and tar sand extraction programs, environmental groups are now trying to block any pipeline that is proposed out of the oil producing regions.


Some would argue that these opponents aren’t anti-energy, they just want to shift energy use from fossil fuels to “green” energy like wind and solar. This is either disingenuous or unbelievably naive. The Keystone XL pipeline would have single-handedly carried more energy to the United States than the sum of all the green energy projects funded by the Obama Administration. And it would have done so entirely with private funds rather than the Administrations increasingly ill-fated and ham-handed attempts at venture capitalism with taxpayer funds. The fact of the matter is that, for the foreseeable future, opposing fossil fuels is equivalent to opposing energy use.


The Keystone decision only makes sense in the context of a general push to limit energy supply and roll back our industrial economy and all its amazing gifts. Part and parcel of this same effort has been the growing opposition to natural gas fracking. Fracking is an underground procedure that has been used safely and succesfully for decades to extend the life of older oil wells. Fracking is one reason that serial predictions of older fields “running out of oil” have been repeatedly incorrect.


Recently, though, fracking has presented the promise of substantially inreasing our domestic energy supply by opening up new shale formations previously thought to be impossible to produce. With this new promise, anti-growth, anti-energy environmentalists have suddenly taken notice, and are gearing up to try to kill this exciting (and ironically quite clean) new energy source.


Both the opposition to the pipeline and fracking share a quasi-irrational (“I’m blogging against the modern economy from my iPhone”), almost aesthetic distaste for energy production, the modern industrial economy, and capitalism itself. Fortunately, though, a quest for a sort of Medieval socialism does not play well with American voters, so opponents cast about for logical-sounding arguments that focus-group better. My guess is that the appeal of inexpensive, domestically-sourced energy will be strong enough to overcome these attacks.


First postscript: Does anyone doubt that had this exact same route been for high speed rail, rather than a pipeline, it would already have been approved and President Obama likely would have been proposing to throw a pile of taxpayer money at it to boot? This despite the fact that high-speed rail almost certainly has more environmental negatives than an underground pipeline. The route has always been a red herring — the real goal is reducing energy supply.


Second postscript: The “science” behind the opposition to fracking has been amazingly similar to that behind global warming alarmism. Global warming supporters count on ignorance when they try to blame modern droughts on CO2, hoping folks will forget much worse droughts in the 1930′s when Co2 was at a supposedly “safe” level. Similarly, there have been examples of methane in drinking water for decades, but because this fact was never widely publicized, fracking opponents can count on this ignorance to try to blame this long-existing effect on recent fracking.


Third postscript: I find the contrast between the California High Speed Rail line and the Keystone XL pipeline to be simply amazing. In the case of the rail line, the Obama administration continues to try to perform CPR on an infrastructure project that makes no sense, is way to costly, and will likely bankrupt the state of California with all the taxpayer money required. In the case of the pipeline, the Obama administration killed a private infrastructure project that is widely supported, covers its own costs, and requires no taxpayer money. I wonder where Thomas Friedman is — does he still lament our inability to do large infrastructure projects of the kind President Obama just blocked, or does he only support large state-funded triumphal projects? This seems yet another example of what I called the tendency of government to shift capital from the productive to the sexy.



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