The Oil Genie and the XL Pipeline

Approval of the proposed Keystone XL would help protect western North Dakota’s infrastructure and create thousands of jobs, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Wednesday.”

– Bismarck Tribune, 1/12/12

“Hopes for the Keystone pipeline to provide a meaningful outlet for Bakken oil are unrealistic and mis­guided.”

– A.L. “Bud” Johnson – CIA Oil and Gas Analyst

“Colorado company proposes oil pipeline in N.D.”

– Bismarck Tribune, 2/17/12

Charlie Barber, Mandan

Deceit is a terrible thing, but all too human. It is bad enough when used on an individual ba­sis, but even more cata­strophic when practiced on an entire State or nation. The worst deceit, how­ever, is practiced when we deceive ourselves. A case in point is Trans-Canada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Despite menda­cious TV ads by the Cham­ber of Commerce and Con­gressman Rick Berg, the Canadian based Keystone XL pipeline will not come through North Dakota, and will not add jobs here. The Colorado based, Saddle Butte pipeline from Alexander, ND to Clearbrook, MN, however, WILL add both jobs and tax revenue to our State.

Moreover, Tar Sands oil is petro­leum of LAST RESORT, which boost­ers of the XL would nevertheless foist on North Dakota and the nation for the sake of their bottom line rather than energy independence of the United States.

It is thick and sluggish, slow to move through pipelines, and causing them to burst.

North Dakota’s Bakken sweet crude is petroleum of FIRST RESORT. It brings a higher price if piped sepa­rately. It should receive much higher priority for delivery to American mar­kets where they are needed by North Dakota State officials, Congress, and the President, than is currently the case.

As the late Andy Rooney might have said: “Why is that?”

Fortunately, on matters dealing with petroleum and natural gas, I often run into the Oil Genie, who periodi­cally separates ballyhoo funded by bil­lionaires from realities that surround me and my friends in North Dakota.

Prairie Independent: Oh Oil Ge­nie, what are you doing so close to Mandan?

Oil Genie: You didn’t think you were going to escape the agonies of the oil boom did you? Unless you folks are better prepared for what’s coming than they were in Williston, Stanley, Watford City or Dickinson, the same zoning and personal disasters are go­ing to affect your infrastructure and people as it has them.

PI: Local officials in Mandan and Morton County performed pretty darn well during the Missouri River flood­ing of 2011. Mandan can handle downsides of Bakken prosperity, I’m sure. As for Bismarck – that’s another world for us.

But why is there so much fuss about the XL, when maps show that it doesn’t even come through North Dakota?

OG: Corporations don’t expect citizens impacted by their decisions to actually look at a map. Also, thanks to the Citizen United case decided recently by the U.S. Supreme Court, they can pump unlimited cash into po­litical ads, masking their motives and attacking public officials like Senator Kent Conrad [D-ND] and President Obama, who have reasonable doubts about the Keystone XL.

Telling Americans that “poor, de­fenseless Trans-Canada’s Keystone XL” cannot meet America’s energy needs because of a “job killing” Presi­dent Barack Obama is an easy sell to rubes from New York and Chicago to Alabama and Arizona. The fact that a pipeline [Canada’s Enbridge] from Hardisty, Alberta to southern Illinois and northern Oklahoma already ex­ists, escapes them.

PI: You mean the one that ruptures in farmers’ fields in eastern North Da­kota?

OG: That’s the one, but Repub­lican U.S. Senators, like Orrin Hatch of Utah, assume, correctly, that most Americans east of Minnesota, south of Iowa, and west of Colorado, Wyo­ming and Montana, don’t know the difference between North and South Dakota, much less where pipelines go.

The origin of the Saddle Butte pipeline at Alexander is just south of Williston, and is a straight shot east­ward the length of North Dakota past the Red River Valley to Clearbrook, just west of Bemidji, MN. Over two thirds of this proposed line, and the jobs that go with it, are in North Da­kota.

Moreover, the projected completion of the pipeline within a year means greatly reduced truck traffic on the Bakken directly related to the transportation of product.

A look at the proposed Key­stone XL route tells you that it has jobs for Mon­tana, South Da­kota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, but not North Dakota.

Its scheduled completion date under best conditions is much more than a year.

The proposed route of the XL through the Ogallala Aquifer in Ne­braska, however, is NOT the best of conditions. Even if lies and dis­tortions about the benefits of the XL succeed in forcing Congress and President Obama to approve Trans Canada’s project, it will not be approved in its present form.

That means more delays. For­tunately for job seekers in east­ern North Dakota, there is work repairing leaks in the current line from Alberta to the Mid­west.

PI: Why does North Dakota’s other Senator [Republican John Hoeven] talk about the Keystone XL as if the Enbridge pipeline doesn’t exist?

OG: Unlike Senator Conrad, Sena­tor Hoeven has always been concerned first for the needs of corporations, rather than the needs of average North Dakotans. He also assumes, correctly, that the vast majority of Republicans in the more populous eastern portion of the State, and their representatives in the Legislature, don’t give a damn what happens to people out west, Re­publican or Democrat, so long as oil money reduces their property and income taxes.

PI: That’s terrible!

OG: That’s politics. The real ob­ject of Senator Hoeven’s rhetoric is to pave the way for Bakken sweet crude to be mixed with Tar Sands Oil from Alberta, to make it more easily transportable to Texas refineries and overseas, providing profits for a Canadian corporation, not jobs for citizens of North Dakota.

PI: But wouldn’t mixing Bakken sweet crude, which is far more environmentally friend­ly than Tar Sands bitu­men or lignite, degrade its value?

OG: Of course, and no jobs either in exchange. Only the proposed Sad­dle Butte route within our State creates such jobs falsely claimed for the Key­stone XL.

A second promising pipeline is pro­posed by CIA oil and gas analyst Bud Johnson along Warren Buffet’s BNSF right-of-way from Mandan, where sweet crude already is imported, to Minneapolis and Chicago. With 10 years at Shell Oil, and 22 years ex­perience with the CIA, Mr. Johnson, unlike the Chamber of Commerce, knows what he is talking about when it comes to pipelines.

PI: Are separate pipelines for Bak­ken sweet crude to domestic markets in the U.S. entering the political de­bate in North Dakota?

OG: Somewhat, despite the lies, but not yet in the U.S. Congress. Sena­tors and Congressmen from the rest of country still have trouble taking North Dakota seriously. We are dead last among the 50 States in High Tech Business activity after all, accord­ing to a study by the National Science Foundation.

PI: But if North Dakota and the nation realize that pipelines, exclusive­ly for Bakken sweet crude, are a far superior solution for domestic energy and environmental needs to anything offered by the Keystone XL, isn’t that bad news for the project and its bil­lionaire Republican sponsors?

OG: Very bad news. Almost as bad as falling unemployment figures and the current crop of Republican candidates for President.

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