Next week President Obama is expected to unveil the strictest coal emission regulations in American history. Obama will demand that coal-firing plants reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent. Most experts predict this will close hundreds of power plants that run on coal, which is the primary source of greenhouse gases. All this after last month’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to enforce key provisions of the Clean Air Act. So maybe there’s still hope in Scalia Land.
There is the possibility that President Obama is attacking coal to greenwash his plans to go ahead with the Keystone Pipeline, which would transport crude oil from Canada’s tar sands through some of America’s most important farms and fresh water aquifers. The renowned NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen warns that should the world’s second largest consumer of energy, America, approve the Keystone Pipeline, the mere extraction of that tar sand oil would mean it’s “game over” for our planet.
The Keystone Pipeline may be a red herring since Alberta’s tar sand oil is already coming to America via train, which the oil industry is starting to favor over pipelines because rail is cheaper and more efficient. Just not safer. Oil Change International reports that since President Obama took office, crude oil transported by rail has grown from virtually nothing to one million barrels per day. Last year America witnessed 117 crude oil rail spills, and expect that number to increase geometrically as America opens up more and more of it’s own land for fracking.
Warren Buffet owns BNSF, which is responsible for nearly three quarters of all the crude oil in North America transported by train. So beware anyone who opposes the Keystone Pipeline, they might own a railroad.
Thanks to fracking America’s oil industry says we can drill our way to energy independence, and that in ten years we will run a trade surplus as the world buys our oil and natural gas. We’re promised fracking offers us a peace dividend. America can avoid Middle East conflicts when we no longer need OPEC. Not so fast. While the science isn’t still out on Climate Change, the science definitely appears to be missing as to just how much oil America actually sits on. Those promises of vast oil reserves underneath California’s Central Valley now appear to be grossly exaggerated.
The Department of Energy reports this week that the oil industry’s promise of nearly 14 billion barrels of recoverable oil underneath California’s Monterey Formation is really only 600 million barrels. That’s not stopping the oil industry’s plan to frack underneath some of the world’s most fertile farmland here in California, wasting 127,127 gallons of precious water to drill a single well in a part of the world known as Earthquake Country.
Meanwhile last Thursday hearings on Climate Change were held by the Republican led House Science Committee. Committee Chair Texas Republican Lamar Smith said, “When assessing climate change, we need to make sure that findings are driven by science, not an alarmist, partisan agenda.”
So who did Mr. Smith put in charge of his Science Committee? Stephen Sayle, who has generously agreed to walk away from his six figure job as a lobbyist for Chevron so he can help the House Science Committee get to the bottom of climate change. Something tells me when he gets to that bottom he’ll strike barrels of oil money.
But before those hearings were even over Speaker of the House John Boehner warned that attempts to regulate greenhouse gases would kill jobs. When asked if any carbon controls were necessary, Speaker Boehner, who five years ago opined that carbon dioxide is not a carcinogen, replied, “How the hell would I know? I’m not a climate scientist.” And either is the man running your Science Committee.