Friday, June 15, 2012

Black Gold...Texas Tea

For those upset that Obama is anti-oil and has enforced policies meant to increase our dependence on foreign energy sources, I offer this nugget:

The U.S. produced over six million barrels of oil a day in the first quarter of 2012, the first time since 1998, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. Output in North Dakota skyrocketed to 570,000 barrels a day, outpacing Alaska to become the second-leading oil producer, trailing only Texas which produces 1.8 million barrels a day. North Dakota’s output in March was up by 215,000 barrels a day, a 60% increase from the previous year. The state’s surging oil production is largely attributed to shale formations stretching across western North Dakota. (Source: Politico

For those upset that Obama is anti-environment and has not enforced policies meant to increase our protections against Big Oil pollution, I offer this nugget:

Hydraulic fracturing — the controversial process behind the spread of natural gas drilling — is enabling oil companies to reach previously inaccessible reserves in North Dakota, triggering a turnaround not only in the state's fortunes, but also in domestic energy production. 

The downside is waste — lots of it. Companies produce millions of gallons of salty, chemical-infused wastewater, known as brine, as part of drilling and fracking each well. Drillers are supposed to inject this material thousands of feet underground into disposal wells, but some of it isn't making it that far.

According to data obtained by ProPublica, oil companies in North Dakota reported more than 1,000 accidental releases of oil, drilling wastewater or other fluids in 2011, about as many as in the previous two years combined. Many more illicit releases went unreported, state regulators acknowledge, when companies dumped truckloads of toxic fluid along the road or drained waste pits illegally.

Under North Dakota regulations, the agencies that oversee drilling and water safety can sanction companies that dump or spill waste, but they seldom do: They have issued fewer than 50 disciplinary actions for all types of drilling violations, including spills, over the past three years.

(Source: Nicholas Kusnetz, ProPublica)

So with this information as a backdrop, let’s consider the Keystone Pipeline controversy.  Conservatives have argued that the Obama emphasis on the green economy means he is ignoring traditional sources of energy in favor of the extreme environmentalist agenda.  Liberals have argued that Obama (and the Democrats) has yet to stand up to Big Oil and has compromised the environment in favor of short term political gain. 

Keystone was delayed awaiting a re-routing plan.  Conservatives pounced.  Keystone will eventually be approved.  Liberals will groan.  When you cut through the election year chatter, both sides are passionate about their positions.  If Obama is making both extremes mad, he’s probably doing something right.

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