The Key

Gettin’ real about Keystone XL.

Despite what junior Senator “Nut cuttin'”* Joni Ernst says, it is not a job-creating enterprise. ALL the “good jobs” are already taken and the skilled nomadic specialists who have them are not about to give them up. The most anyone can reasonably expect is a rolling spike in the local hospitality industry (lodging, dining, and entertainment), and a few dollars more in spending at convenience stores, ABC stores, gas stations, and Wal-Mart outlets, along with a very few long-term post-construction maintenance jobs along the pipeline route.

Contrary to what the Pom-Pom boys and girls in the GOP and The American Petroleum Institute claim, it will have absolutely no effect on U.S. energy security or our consumption of foreign oil. The product that it will carry is NOT destined for domestic U. S. consumption. It’s bound for the global market via a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) near Houston Texas where it will effectively be merged with and become indistinguishable from product from any and all other sources.

Safety anywhere and everywhere in the oil patch has nothing to do with anyone’s well-being (no pun intended). It’s all about the safety of the investment and protection of profit margins, as should be plain to any clear-eyed and thoughtful observer of the events surrounding the British Petroleum Deep Water Horizon project disaster which killed eleven. BP was corporately unconcerned with and went to great lengths to minimize what proved to be an enormous blowout resulting in major continuing environmental damage. Only when they gave in to the obvious impossibility of reestablishing control of the mudline wellhead so that they might harvest the millions of gallons of highly lucrative crude which were escaping did they do what they could to shut it down and they did so with fingers crossed in the hope that they might at least have succeeded in something.

Just so you know where I’m coming from on oil production techniques and safety issues, consider the following.

I used to work as an Oil Well Logger for Baroid, the one-time oilfield services division of the National Lead Company whose flagship consumer product was Dutch Boy Paint. At one point I was in charge of logging for an exploratory well in a sorghum field a few minutes north of Corpus Christi which blew out when the drill hit an high pressure pocket of Hydrogen Sulfide gas which is both extremely corrosive and highly flammable. Because the well casing had been set about ten feet too short out of concern for the cost of the necessary stainless steel pipe, cement, time, and labor, the gas bypassed the production tube and found its way into a heavily used local aquifer as well as up to the surface through natural seams in the subsurface sandstone.

It took 18 months for that gas to stop flowing and in the end the hole had to be abandoned and a fresh water aquifer which served the people for six miles in any direction was poisoned and the progress of the destruction was visible throughout.

So. We’re supposed to buy into the industry-standard myth of safety and effectiveness for something that will be buried?

* “Nut cuttin'” is not pejorative. It’s a euphemism for the everyday castration of livestock, a practice Keystone XL apologist Joni Ernst claims to have a working knowledge of. Down home in Texas when they say “It’s gettin’ down to the nut cuttin'” they mean it’s time for serious work to be done. Had I intended to deride, I would probably have referred to her as Sen. Joni “Ms. Castration” Ernst or something like that which would put her right up there with Gov. Bob “Transvaginal Probe” McDonnell. But I decided to resist the temptation.