The Bottom of the Ninth Inning in the Hydrocarbon Economy

The New York Times, Tuesday, November 18, 2014


A Forest Threatened by Keystone XL, by Andrew Nikiforuk

“…Since the mining frenzy for this garbage crude (bitumen) took off in 2000, nearly two million acres of this ancient forest (western Canada’s boreal forest) have been cleared or degraded, according to Global Forest Watch–a swath more than six times the size of New York City.  If Keystone XL and other proposed pipelines are approved and bitumen production grows, much more forest will be lost…

Basic mathematics underscores the absurdity of this brute-force enterprise.”  (Most of the bitumen lies so deep in the frozen ground that it must be melted with steam and then pumped to the surface for processing.  This requires steam injection plants that blast scalding steam into the ground through wells.)  The energy ratio is roughly 1 to 3.

“As the Canadian economist Jeff Rubin put it several years ago, ‘when you’re schlepping oil from sand, you’re probably in the bottom of the ninth inning in the hydrocarbon economy.”

The bottom of the ninth inning is the last chance for teams to change the game.  This author feels that the vote in Congress for the passage of the U.S. portion of the pipeline is the last chance to avoid environmental damage here.  (It did not pass this time.)

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