Warren Buffett, the Keystone Pipeline, and Crony Capitalism

Warren Buffett, the Keystone Pipeline, and Crony Capitalism

By Joe
Herring

A decades-long crusade by the environmental left to
convince us that oil is evil, unsustainable, and destroying our planet has yet
to accomplish its goal of eliminating oil as a fuel, but it has succeeded in
making oil damned expensive.  However, new technologies for the extraction and
transport of previously unrecoverable oil promise to reverse that
trend.

One such project is the TransCanada Keystone XL
pipeline, which will transport bitumen from the oil sands of Alberta to the
refineries and ports along the Gulf coast.  It will also feature a spur that
will pick up oil from the vast Bakken oil formation in North Dakota.  The
benefit to our economy and energy security is obvious.

I live in Nebraska, one of the states that will be
host to a segment of the pipeline. We have witnessed a remarkably contentious
debate locally regarding the construction of the Keystone XL, revealing some
rather disturbing attitudes regarding truth and its role in public discourse.  I
suppose it was naïve to think that the wild-eyed excesses of the radical leftist
environmental movement would find little purchase in the commonsense plains of
Nebraska, but the insupportable claims and charges being tossed about by the
anti-pipeline crowd have proven that green insanity can take root even in our
generally sensible state.

The opposition, led most loudly by a group called BOLD
Nebraska, claims a catastrophic risk of contamination to the Ogallala aquifer
should the pipeline suffer a breach.  The aquifer underlies virtually all of
Nebraska, and several other states, and supplies drinking water and irrigation
to millions of people.  It is understandable that reasonable people would
express concern over potential hazards to such a valuable resource, and it is
this reasonable concern that BOLD Nebraska is exploiting with a combination of
half-truths, innuendo, and outright lies.

As required by law, an Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) has been prepared for this project.  The science reflected in the
statement is sound, and it illustrates a comprehensive examination of the
project’s effects, likely risks, and reasonable alternatives.  The EIS arrives
at a conclusion supported by recognized scientific method and was conducted by
top experts in their fields.  The proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline
is, in fact, the safest of the available routes.

The reality of the geology and hydrology underlying
the proposed pipeline route precludes any wholesale contamination of the
aquifer.  To understand why, it is important to understand what an aquifer is –
and what it isn’t.  It is a geological formation that is structured in
such a way as to hold water in quantity.  It is not an “underground
lake.”  It is a vast filter system consisting of layer upon layer of sedimentary
rock, silt, clay, and sand that in Nebraska lies much closer to the surface on
the western portion of the aquifer than on the eastern
portion.

For this reason, the water flow within the aquifer is
easterly, making it a physical impossibility for any oil leaked along the
proposed route to flow “uphill” to the 75%-80% of the aquifer that lies to the
west of the pipeline.  Additionally, both the oil and the chemical additives
that make it easier to pump are lighter than water and would not emulsify.
Leaked oil will simply migrate toward the nearest substrate, remaining
localized.

This is according to Professor James Goeke, a
hydro-geologist who retired from the University of Nebraska earlier this year
after a forty-year career of studying the Ogallala aquifer and the Sand Hills
region that overlies it.  He is the foremost expert on the aquifer,
and he informs us that the geological structure of the formation precludes any
possibility that oil could travel for more than a few hundred feet in any
direction before encountering substrate.  Quite simply, the aquifer and the land
above it are not in any real danger from this project.

Given that the science clearly shows the that pipeline
opposition is persisting in perpetuating a demonstrable falsehood, it is
reasonable to question the opposition’s motives.  According to their own website
postings and
editorializing in
newspapers across the nation, their ultimate aim is not to reroute the pipeline,
but rather to halt its construction now and forever.  The thinking is, if the
pipeline is halted, then the oil will stay in the ground, thereby protecting the
earth from the ravages of such a “filthy fuel.”  Their tactic is to suggest a
simple rerouting around the aquifer for the sake of safety.

The environmentalists well know that changing the
route at this stage will result in the invalidation of the existing EIS (the
real aim of the protests), thereby creating a need to begin the entire process
anew.  This time, leftists are confident that they will be able to demagogue and
politicize that process sufficiently to preclude another approval, resulting in
the exercise of a “green veto” despite the clear conclusions of sound
science.

So what happens if the pipeline is never built?  Well,
to fully explore that, it is instructive to look at the players in this game.
One can find the usual suspects among the hysterical left: Hollywood
environmentalists such as Daryl Hannah and progressive agenda-driven scientists
like global-warming alarmist James Hansen of NASA.  These, however, are merely
the “useful idiots” in the process, and not the actual players.  I mentioned
BOLD Nebraska earlier.  This group is funded almost entirely by Dick Holland,
who has been a close friend and business associate of Warren Buffett since the
1960s.

Holland was an original investor in Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway, and the two have remained close friends ever since.  Buffett
and Holland also share a similar political philosophy, both being liberal
Democrats, with Holland giving exclusively to the Democratic Party.  So why does
this matter?  It potentially answers a few questions about the recent behavior
of Buffett and Obama, and perhaps the real reason behind the Nebraska-centric
animus toward the pipeline.

A year after the election of Obama, Warren Buffett
bought a giant railroad, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
The BNSF has more than 32,000 miles of track and
right-of-way in this nation, running from the west coast and through the
agricultural heartland of America.  It is also hauls coal from the mines in
Montana and Wyoming and is the railroad with the best existing north-south
infrastructure.  In fact, it’s quite well-situated to perform precisely the task
for which TransCanada has proposed to build a pipeline.

Should the pipeline fail, the oil will still be
extracted, but it will then
be transported by rail
,
and Mr. Buffett, thanks to the efforts of his friend Mr. Holland, will be
uniquely situated to derive a fortune from that business, as well as enhance the
value of his holdings in Conoco-Phillips petroleum.  Is it possible that Warren
Buffett’s assistance to Obama in both policy and public relations lately may be
his way of trying to tip the regulatory scales in his favor?  After all, nothing
says “I love you” to a Democrat better than a public plea for more
taxes.

In any case, the opposition to the pipeline is not
only tainted, but intellectually and scientifically bankrupt.  BOLD Nebraska are
correct when they screech that there is an agenda being served here, but it is
not big oil, environmentalism, or even green energy; it appears to be
garden-variety crony capitalism, an Obama administration
specialty.

The author writes from Omaha, NE and welcomes comments
at his website http://www.readmorejoe.com

Oil in the Western USA and Obama is pushing Ethanol DUH!

Subject: Fw: oil – you better be sitting down when you read this!

 By the way…this is all true. Check it out at the link below!!! 

GOOGLE it, or follow this link.  It will blow your mind. 

 http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1911 

Here’s an interesting read, important and verifiable information : 

About 6 months ago, the writer was watching a news program on oil and one of the Forbes Bros. was the guest. The host said to Forbes, “I am going to ask you a direct question and I would like a direct answer;  how much oil does the U.S. have in the ground?”  Forbes did not miss a beat, he said, “more than all the Middle East put together.”  Please read below. 

The U. S. Geological Service issued a report in April 2008 that only scientists and oil men knew was coming, but man was it big.  It was a revised report (hadn’t been updated since 1995) on how much oil was in this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota, western South Dakota, and extreme eastern Montana …… check THIS out: 

The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable…. at $107 a barrel, we’re looking at a resource base worth more than $5..3 trillion. 

“When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea..” says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature’s financial analyst. 

“This sizable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years,” reportsThe Pittsburgh Post Gazette.  It’s a formation known as the Williston Basin, but is more commonly referred to as the ‘Bakken.’  It stretches from Northern Montana, through North Dakota and into Canada.  For years, U. S. oil exploration has been considered a dead end.  Even the ‘Big Oil’ companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken’s massive reserves….. and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels.  And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL! 

That’s enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 2041 years straight.  And if THAT didn’t throw you on the floor, then this next one should – because it’s from 2006! 

U. S. Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World 

Stansberry Report Online – 4/20/2006 

Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world. It is more than 2 TRILLION barrels.  OnAugust 8, 2005 President Bush mandated its extraction. In three and a half years of high oil prices none has been extracted. With this motherload of oil why are we still fighting over off-shore drilling? 

They reported this stunning news:  We have more oil inside our borders, than all the other proven reserves on earth.. Here are the official estimates: 

- 8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia 

- 18-times as much oil as Iraq 

 – 21-times as much oil as Kuwait 

 – 22-times as much oil as Iran 

- 500-times as much oil as Yemen 

- and it’s all right here in the Western United States . 

HOW can this BE? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this? Because the environmentalists and others have blocked all efforts to help America become independent of foreign oil! Again, we are letting a small group of people dictate our lives and our economy…..WHY? 

James Bartis, lead researcher with the study says we’ve got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle East -more than 2 TRILLION barrels untapped.  That’s more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil in the world today, reports The Denver Post. 

Don’t think ‘OPEC’ will drop its price – even with this find?  Think again!  It’s all about the competitive marketplace, – it has to. Think OPEC just might be funding the environmentalists? 

Got your attention yet?  Now, while you’re thinking about it, do this: 

Pass this along.   If you don’t take a little time to do this, then you should stifle yourself the next time you complain about gas prices – by doing NOTHING, you forfeit your right to complain. Copy and paste to your e-mail

Now I just wonder what would happen in this country if every one of you sent this to every one in your address book.

Poll: 69% Support Offshore Drilling, While Nan And The Dem Congress Give Us The Finger

1.3 Million Signature Petition to Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, Delivered To GOP Leadership

Petrol Procrastination

Petrol Procrastination

By Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu
FrontPageMagazine.com | 7/17/2008

 

The old saw we often heard from our parents about “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today,” has never been more applicable. Since September 11 Americans have procrastinated about serious national security issues; now they have reached crisis level. High on the list – but by no means exhausting it – are energy, military strength levels, threat identification, and proliferation issues. As are most things in life, these are intertwined, so that delaying decisive action in one adversely affects the others.

It has taken a sharp spike in gasoline prices to convince most Americans that a business as usual approach to petroleum products has not worked. Many now perceive the dangers of reliance on offshore oil producers – several of which have interests inimical to the U.S. One would think that this key lesson had been learned in the 1970s oil crisis, but sometimes it takes more than one hit on the head with a 2×4 to get the point home.

For decades – perhaps dating from popular acceptance of the flawed science in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – Americans have permitted energy policy to be driven by agenda-driven environmental interest groups. While a series of hysteric predictions of disaster have proven wrong over the past decades (e.g., utter depletion of the Earth’s resources by 1980, mass starvation due to overpopulation by 1987, and a return of the ice age at any moment in the 1970s, to name but a few) the proponents of such bizarre theories are rarely held accountable.

To the contrary, their influence has grown with each new dire prediction. Books predicting impending disaster sell well, but with an erroneous track record ought to be reclassified to the fiction category. Hysterical forecasts have been lucratively promoted by gullible media and compliant Hollywood actors and film makers. As a consequence, rational decision making on key components of energy independence such as increased oil exploration and extraction from known reservoirs off-shore and in Colorado or ANWR have been stymied.

The repeated arguments that such resources would have limited value or would not be available for decades have been refuted. In simple point of fact, had oil extraction begun in ANWR, to cite a single example, when the original Congressional release was killed by President Clinton, that oil would be flowing today. While not in itself a long-term solution it would certainly contribute to the overall energy independence of America and would buy time for longer-horizon R&D to provide improved alternatives.

Furthermore, despite a litany of warnings about the ultimate depletion of petroleum sources we continue to learn of new discoveries like the recently disclosed enormous pools in the deep Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil. More exist and could be successfully tapped.

Reliance on free market initiatives – rather than self-perpetuating government projects – would be sufficient to encourage auto manufacturers and alternative energy developers to become decisively engaged in solving this issue. Already we see the rapid emergence of alternatives in many fields. This trend will accelerate.

But at present America has lost precious time. While the country has 104 active nuclear plants producing electricity the need is far greater and the technology increasingly safe. Countries like France and Japan – ironically the only country to suffer actual nuclear attack – rely almost exclusively upon nuclear produced electricity for their needs. Yet Americans, still befuddled by the old anti-nuclear film The China Syndrome, approach the subject as if every nuclear plant is a potential Chernobyl.

In Frank Gaffney’s excellent book, War Footing, an entire section is devoted to means to make America energy-independent. Newt Gingrich has a large part of his organization devoted to similar efforts. We have watched a failed policy of reliance on outside energy sources gut our economy and shake our force projection capabilities. Americans need to get educated quickly on these issues so that we can direct our elected leadership – unduly influenced by far too long by extreme environmental special interest groups – to make the necessary changes to policy.

With an economy weakened by the price of imported oil, our military capabilities have diminished. At the moment we are engaged in global war. Two fronts on that war – Iraq and Afghanistan – draw most attention, but the conflict is indeed global, with definite domestic implications. That our military, boots-on-the-ground capability has been stretched thin is no longer debatable.

America desperately needs military reform that produces more of what this type of warfare demands: light infantry, special operations units, and units that can operate in the civil-military plane such as military police and engineers. Instead, we continue to pour billions into showy but unnecessary, high-ticket, high-tech weapons systems that are useful for Cold War applications but lack utility to defeat today’s enemies.

Furthermore, we as a nation lack realistic threat identification. We are still shy about naming our foe. Historically we began to see a reluctance to name the real enemy emerge in Korea. While fighting Chinese forces we hesitated to call the Peoples Republic our enemy. In Vietnam the legend persists to present day that we fought “ragged guerrilla” forces when in fact the unnamed enemy of North Vietnam send tanks, infantry divisions, and sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons to fight in the South.

Today we continue to dither, hamstrung by political correctness, moral equivalency, and cultural relativism. Unless we ultimately face the reality that we are engaged in a confrontation with elements of radical Islam, we will be unable to prevail. Instead, we have so convoluted the debate that we are at the point that we castigate anyone who actually points this out and tie our courts in knots fighting for civil rights for enemy combatants.

In addition, we treat enemies, such as Saudi Arabia, as allies, and ignore or excuse aberrant dictators like Hugo Chavez, Bashar Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Kim Jong Il. We issue platitudes about the sanctity of “peace processes” and bless rigged elections and reassure ourselves that notorious terrorist organizations are in fact changing their spots.

Meanwhile, we ignore the ominous gathering storm of America’s enemies banding together against us. We overlook the deadly connections that link North Korean scientists and engineers to missile proliferation in rogue states like Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. Major research programs in these countries float under the collective radar while we watch fatalistically as incremental improvements continue unchecked in their biological, nuclear, and chemical warfare capabilities.

Perhaps it will take something as mundane yet impactful as the price of a gallon of gasoline to be the catalyst that will provoke America’s wake-up call. Certainly energy reform – and concomitant energy independence – will be a good first start to correcting the imbalance. Nevertheless, ignoring the ever-ticking clock allows our enemies time to aggregate and build strength.

At some point very soon an awakening must occur. We must recognize collective threats and identify responses necessary to deal with them. Otherwise we will – as we have been warned from youth – pay the high price of endless procrastination.

 


Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu has been an Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel, as well as a writer, popular speaker, business executive and farmer. His most recent book is Separated at Birth, about North and South Korea.

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