There is reason to believe a bit of collusion between Mr. Obama’s
refusal to approve the Keystone Pipeline project and the Burlington
Northern-Santa Fe Railroad. After all, the estimated 140,000 tankcars
of petroleum yearly (and increasing) from the North Dakota Bakken
oil-field to refineries in New Brunswick, Canada, does put a little
pressure on foot-dragging the pipeline. For Warren Buffett, that
spells big dollar signs. He didn’t buy the railroad just for play.
I’m not against railroads; I love them. But when it comes to
transporting certain cargo, pipelines are much more efficient and
safer than railroads. Petroleum pipelines crisscross the United
States, and have been for almost 100 years. The “Big Inch” comes to
mind, among countless others. They’ve been supplying us with much
needed energy in an exceptionally uninterrupted manner. Once laid,
the lines are never seen again and what flows through them fuels the
continent. Lines are fiercely regulated and constantly monitored to
keep them safe. Yes, with the immense volume and miles of lines,
there are occasional accidents – but can you imagine this same volume
being transported daily 24/7 over the highways and local streets, to
keep our furnaces, air conditioners, trucks-cars-trains and electric
Accidents such as the train to Canada’s East Coast are tragic. A
runaway train, with no one at the controls, is certainly not crude
oil’s fault but when is the last time you heard of a runaway pipeline?
Human error will be our constant nemesis and will be until we all die.
The rare pipeline incidents have been, more often than not, caused by
human error – construction workers digging trenches without
establishing the presence of any underground obstacles. But I am much
more trusting of the unseen pipelines than the constant tankers on the
highways and two-mile long trains pulling hundreds of loaded tank cars
day and night.
The long and short of it is: finally, we have a God-given abundance of
energy in totally accessible areas within our borders; energy that
fuels everything from cultivating crops to transportation to air-
conditioning to lighting the ball fields for a night at the games.
Not to mention the other countless benefits derived from petroleum
such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fabrics…and the list is
endless. Rather than disparage this miracle fluid, we should declare
a National Crude Oil Day celebration to enlighten those whose heads
are in the sand concerning the fact that we are so blessed. And,
possibly, allow all Sierra Club members to walk to the celebration,
rather than drive.
Now, build the pipeline; it will give jobs to thousands, more safety
above ground and adequate supplies to fuel our future for years to
come. And once it is built, it will go unseen like all the other
lines across the country, drastically curtailing transport emissions
and, if there is such a thing, reduce those nasty “greenhouse gases.”
Just remember, oil and coal keep the lights on.