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Old 12-19-2012, 02:51 PM   #1
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Default OK, Fine, Screw The Pipelines

Obama blocks the Keystone pipeline, his pseudo-environmentalist buddies cheer, and the deal is done. All that nasty old oil will stay in the ground now, right?

Uh, no. The frac'ing kerfluffle has been revealed as silly. Production is exploding. The free market, like one of its children, the Internet, tends to route around obstacles. Rail transport is now so robust that a recent Bakken pipeline had to be canceled due to insufficient subscriptions.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1042...eok-s-pipeline

Of course, the real environmentalists point out that the chance of a spill is now much higher, and train transport requires more and dirtier fuel than pipelines. But, don't confuse politicians and zealots with the facts, right?
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:15 AM   #2
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Shale-oil boom means big demand for rail tank cars

http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/01...#storylink=cpy

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Trinity Industries, the biggest rail car producer, began converting wind-tower factories last year to help meet demand for train cars that can transport the petroleum product.
Best line of the month.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:20 AM   #3
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I've read they are looking to divert the main stem of the already drought reduced Missouri River to supply frac-ing operations in Canada. Open pit mining for frac sand continues unabated as well with the resulting damage. I think the kerfluffle continues.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:42 AM   #4
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Increasingly, frac water is being reused. I watched a presentation about three weeks ago for a new company run by a friend, which filters frac water through big ceramic columns. It's tough to do, because frac water is an emulsion, but you can recover the 1% that is oil and sell it, then return most of the cleaned water to the frac tanks.

I admit I don't really get the problem with the frac sand mining. Can you explain?
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:44 AM   #5
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Susan4, I think you must mean for N. Dakota, not Canada. The Missouri River can't be diverted by Canada, as no part of it is in Canada.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:46 AM   #6
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Lemme see if I can find it back...could have swore they said Canada.

ETA: Dakotas and Montana in the Bakken field. Sorry for the misinfo.

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Old 01-08-2013, 12:46 PM   #7
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Frac sand mining is active in my state as we have the correct exposed sandstone formations. This mining is less regulated as to reclamation than coal. It's treated like gravel mining for road rock. It's open strip or pit style of material removal which essentially removes the existing land cover and alters the underlying and surrounding hydrology accordingly while physically removing prior habitat. While we certainly cope with these kinds of impacts fairly routinely the scale and market price increase for the material being mined is startling. It's a boom and thus we'll be left to clean up the bust whenever it comes around.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:18 PM   #8
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Are they doing it on public lands? Why are "we" going to be left with cleanup? What sort of cleanup is necessary? You mentioned hydrology; how is this altered (no, I'm not retarded, I understand runoff and erosion; are they altering other people's land use?)?

When companies were leasing ranch land in Wyoming and drilling coal bed methane wells, some of them got in the habit of watering out their wells into streams and arroyos on the property. Idiots.

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Old 01-08-2013, 02:23 PM   #9
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No it's either by purchase of mineral rights or outright purchase. The Forest Service and BLM are I think the only public agencies that allow for mining uses but they don't have land holdings in the areas where the sandstone is.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:25 PM   #10
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So, they own the property or have received dispensation from landowners? Sorry, I edited the above post to add more questions.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:37 PM   #11
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There's always downstream effects when you mess with water flow. I'd have to look at the difference between coal and quarry reclamation to tell you what the shortfall would be to regaining something like habitat on a frac sand site. I'll try to add more detail later when I'm not having to poke letters on a phone screen.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:03 PM   #12
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FWIW, many think frac sand mining is a dying industry.

http://fracsandfrisbee.com/2012/04/2...-in-frac-sand/

Yes, ceramic proppants are still too expensive, but prices continue to fall.
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:47 PM   #13
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Well that's good news!

I didn't get a chance to chat again with my policy wonk friend who knows more about mining reclamation than I ever cared to.... when I do I can fill in more, but as I recall from a presentation he gave about a year ago when things were heating up here, I think they have to make a minimal effort to restore hydrology or at least stabilize active runoff, but there's not a re-vegetation requirement for their sites. There's typically not much overburden on these sites so if they were going to re-vegetate, they'd have to haul in soil. There are also light, noise and dust impacts during multiple shift operations during the mining. While it would not be as impactful as say mountaintop removal in WV and there's not as many runoff implications with altered pH etc, it would be like having a multitude of road rock gravel quarries concentrated along what used to be scenic sandstone bluffs.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan4 View Post
Lemme see if I can find it back...could have swore they said Canada.

ETA: Dakotas and Montana in the Bakken field. Sorry for the misinfo.
Could you give us the link so we can read it too?
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:14 PM   #15
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It was internal communication at my work via the policy wonk I mentioned. Lemme see what I can find with friend Google...

http://www.hcn.org/issues/44.13/the-...iness-in-water

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1503525.html

http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1wt...esources/6.htm

Not finding what I want but that's close...
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:54 PM   #16
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So, they're taking exposed sandstone bluffs, without much topsoil or vegetation, and turning the sandstone back into plain old sand, ruining the scenery in the process, at least for those of us that like exposed sandstone bluffs. But it's their sandstone, so I don't have a problem with it—people who want nice views have the option of outbidding them and preserving those views.

The obvious difficulty is when their runoff starts polluting property that is not theirs, or their lack of runoff starts starving the water system. Is that right?
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:05 AM   #17
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Habitat loss, noise, dust, water use, hydrology changes, runoff implications etc etc. While the material they want is exposed on one side the landform surrounding it is razed as well to get it. Have you ever seen a strip mine or working large quarry? Pretty much a moonscape. They are within their rights to destroy land they own but exercising that right in and of itself doesn't mitigate the destruction.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:01 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan4
Habitat loss, noise, dust, water use, hydrology changes, runoff implications etc etc.
Sounds like a suburban subdivision—but smaller. And much more productive, given that the resource obtained is enabling an American energy renaissance that is producing tens of thousands of jobs, and has already increased energy production sufficiently that we can pretty much finesse all our Mideast oil imports soon.

I used to drive out northwest of Oklahoma City and just sit and gaze at the beautiful, black dirt, dry land farms. Green, rolling pastures, fenced with tall trees, yellow clapboard farm houses at one edge, pretty winter wheat growing when everything else was sere and brown. Mostly gone now, to housing developments and strip malls. Befuddled coyotes raid dumpsters, possums get run over by the dozens. It is a pity. I'll bet I would have admired those sandstone bluffs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan4
They are within their rights to destroy land they own but exercising that right in and of itself doesn't mitigate the destruction.
Well, no, since exercising that right actually involves that destruction, and one man's sandstone bluffs are another man's nice new subdivision. Let me be honest: it sounds like an excuse for some .gov functionary to "do something", especially since it's activity tied to those evil old oil companies. You're certainly someone who would see that coming. Am I wrong?

Last edited by dharma; 01-09-2013 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:01 AM   #19
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Quote:
You're certainly someone who would see that coming. Am I wrong?
Yes and no. I would love to see environmental services get monetized so that they could play fair and square in your Libertarian Utopia with all angelic oil companies and no more evil government. However that was tried first out of the gate by the sociopaths that lead us with the rip-off scheme of carbon crediting instead of something workable and now they've poisoned the well for anything like habitat credits or clean water credits or endangered species credits so in the meanwhile environmental services remain the tragedy of the commons with the only protection being largely inadequate and too late government protections and regulation.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:00 PM   #20
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It is in deed Ironic that Obama owes a great debt to the economic growth and job creation from the oil and gas exploration and their resulting lower costs for Energy and petrochemical feed stocks,
For without that occurring during his first term I question he would have been reelected.

While his green stimulus programs are largely recognized as failures, except for the Chinese, it's worse than that as they resulted in increased energy costs and increased economic pressures and eventually job loss and greater debt for our country..

"The Emperor has no clothes"

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Old 01-09-2013, 06:31 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan4 View Post
Yes and no. I would love to see environmental services get monetized so that they could play fair and square in your Libertarian Utopia with all angelic oil companies and no more evil government. However that was tried first out of the gate by the sociopaths that lead us with the rip-off scheme of carbon crediting instead of something workable and now they've poisoned the well for anything like habitat credits or clean water credits or endangered species credits so in the meanwhile environmental services remain the tragedy of the commons with the only protection being largely inadequate and too late government protections and regulation.
Sorry to make you cranky.

I don't think a libertarian society would be a utopia—just much better, and far more prosperous, than what we have now. And, though I know you were being sarcastic, I am under no illusions re angelic oil companies (trust me—I'm in the business!). I think oil companies are self-interested—just like everyone else.

The commons will always be the site of a tragedy. There is no way around it; human nature makes it so. The answer is to eliminate the commons. As they say in Mexico, "what belongs to everyone belongs to no one"; if you want to see real environmental tragedy, look to countries like Mexico, or the old USSR, where socialism ruined even more than it has ruined here.

What is owned has value, and is cared for. No, I can't guarantee that your view would always be preserved; like my pretty farms supplanted by subdivisions, sometimes economics trumps aesthetics. But, just as wealthier countries tend to be better at preserving their freedoms, so they tend to be better at preserving their special resources.

I do not trust the government to protect anything; from our healthcare to our forests to our currency, what is entrusted to them always suffers. All the worse for the few truly dedicated and competent government employees, and that is yet another tragedy.
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:22 PM   #22
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Now that I re-read it it does sound cranky, didn't mean to, I was in a hurry to get out the door this morning

The word aesthetics does make me cranky though because people don't commonly understand impacts beyond that. As foresters we get hammered with aesthetics over science all.the.time. but that's a different story...

Impacts: Your subdivision example is a good one so I'll roll with it. Before it was a farm it was probably native grass prairie supporting a diversity of plant and animal life over a rich topsoil developed over eons by those grasses and held together by their deep roots. Along come farms and they remove that permanent cover and replace it with food crops grown for half the year with the soil generally exposed the other half. This removed the plant diversity, animal habitat and degraded the soil profile by reducing water holding capacity, increasing compaction, siltation and runoff. This impacts the downstream habitat by increasing the speed of runoff, reducing base flow, increasing water temperature and adding chemical pollutants. The faster water increases downstream erosion and destabilizes streambanks. Along comes the subdivision and a return to permanent cover. Good? No. The new cover, even the lawns are impervious to water and this vastly increases the speed and volume of stormwater runoff. This further destabilizes the downstream channel and headcuts form back up to the upland grade. Thus you see many urban streams degraded to concrete ditches where living things generally involve Norway rats, invasive exotic weeds and the occasional patch of pond scum. Fish habitat is generally toast in this process and stormwater runoff quality is abysmal and would need very expensive water treatment facilities to make it drinkable for downstream neighbors. There's many more follow on issues and additional things, but there's a snapshot...

And the 'burb isn't as pretty as the farm and the farm isn't as pretty as the prairie.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:00 PM   #23
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I got nothin' to add to that.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:20 PM   #24
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In terms of private ownership being better cared for, I wish that were true in my experience. Folks take the path of least resistance for very short term gains rather than inform themselves ahead of decisions that last for generations past their ownership and use. We're seeing more and more decline in a land ethic as we continue along the generational shift as land passes to kids who have no connection to it, they grew up in front of a screen.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:35 AM   #25
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You've never been around grant land, then, where people will turn their cattle onto land that has been grazed to desert in an effort to get free forage, while preserving their own property. Or section 8 housing, whose residents habitually trash their gift homes, while neighbors who own maintain theirs (or any rented property, for that matter; ask our landlord members who post their frustrations in the Lounge about this).

Etc., etc. The tragedy of the commons occurs because it is commons. I'm afraid a few examples of lazy or heedless heirs aren't going to contradict thousands of years of human history; people exploit and destroy what isn't theirs, conserve what is.
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