Archive for April 8th, 2013

by lizard

After the Missoulian editorial board came out strongly for the Keystone pipeline, ExxonMobil experienced a little problem in Mayflower, Arkansas. This Alternet piece highlights the 14 things you need to know about why this pipeline spill is so horrifying. This first paragraph sets the tone:

Within a week of the ExxonMobil tar sands oil pipeline burst in Mayflower, Arkansas, ExxonMobil was in charge of the clean-up, the U.S. government had established a no-fly zone over the area, some 40 residents were starting their second week of evacuation, ExxonMobil was threatening to arrest reporters trying to cover the spill, and several homeowners had filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages from the world’s second-most-profitable corporation, which had helped keep the pipeline secret from terrorists.

Then in Houston, Texas, this happened:

While clean up continues on the Exxon oil spill in Arkansas, another oil pipeline burst was detected over the weekend – this time in Houston, Texas.

The Shell Oil owned pipeline burst was detected Friday by the US National Response Center and has dumped an estimated 30,000 gallons of oil into a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico (as if it needed any more oil dumped into it!).

If that’s too depressing, the Missoulian may be able to cheer you up with the brighter side of global climate change:

Climate change warnings tend to focus on the losers, but western Montana would come up a winery winner, according to a new scientific analysis of temperature trends.

“Winter temperatures have been a limit to vineyard growth in our state,” said Gary Tabor, director of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation in Bozeman and one of the co-authors of “Climate Change, Wine and Conservation” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “So as we see our temperatures not being as Montanan as before, we’re seeing the impact of climate change in how people look at agriculture. Folks in Oregon and Washington are looking at our vineyards here to expand production.”

Well, that’s it. If climate change means better conditions for vineyard expansion in Montana, let’s build that damn pipeline right now, ’cause my Bota Box is almost empty.

Maybe at this point I should remind folks oil companies don’t give a fuck about anything if it means making more money. That link is to a must read investigative look by Greg Palast at how BP’s Deepwater disaster may have been averted:

Three years ago this month, on the 20th of April, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizondrilling rig blew itself to kingdom come.

Soon thereafter, a message came in to our office’s chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, from a person I dare not name, who was floating somewhere in the Caspian Sea along the coast of Baku, Central Asia.

The source was in mortal fear he’d be identified – and with good reason. Once we agreed on a safe method of communication, he revealed this: 17 months before BP’sDeepwaterHorizonblew out and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig suffered an identical blow-out in the Caspian Sea.

Crucially, both the Gulf and Caspian Sea blow-outs had the same identical cause: the failure of the cement “plug”.

To prevent blow-outs, drilled wells must be capped with cement. BP insisted on lacing its cement with nitrogen gas – the same stuff used in laughing gas – because it speeds up drying.

Time is money, and mixing some nitrogen gas into the cement saves a lot of money.

However, because BP’s penny-pinching method is so damn dangerous, they are nearly alone in using it in deep, high-pressure offshore wells.

The reason: nitrogen gas can create gaps in the cement, allow methane gas to go up the borehole, fill the drilling platform with explosive gas – and boom, you’re dead.

So, when its Caspian Sea rig blew out in 2008, rather than change its ways, BP simply covered it up.

I don’t know if the lure of vineyards is enough for me to start gleefully supporting the Keystone pipeline, sorry Sherry. Especially after what this Montana farmer has to say:

Last year proved too dry. The year before — too wet. For Wade Sikorski of Fallon County, Mont., the years in which the weather is just right to grow food on his ranch seem to be increasingly few and far between.

“We go from one extreme to another,” said Sikorski. “With either extreme, I can’t produce anything.”

Sikorski sees climate change as a culprit, and the Keystone XL pipeline — which is slated to run within a couple miles of his ranch — as likely to make matters worse.

“There are a lot of safety issues with the pipeline itself. It could rupture and leak as it crosses farms and ranches,” he said. “But my main issue is climate change.”

I should note Sikorski is in the extreme minority in his community with his opposition to the pipeline. Jobs are jobs, even if temporary, and most folks want to cash-out whatever pocket change the oil cartels are willing to shake out.

If there is a vineyard boom, and the Montana Taverns Association is unable to keep the wine-tasting rooms from spreading, I hope the vineyard entrepreneurs pick clever names for their wine.

I doubt Climate Change Merlot will be one of them.

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