There are two oil related issues that the Republican Party has hitched their wagon to. One is Fracking and the other is the Keystone XL pipeline. Both of these issues have raised environmental concerns around the country. Especially where either of them is to be done. The right claims we need fracking in order to become oil independent. They claim the Keystone XL pipeline will create “thousands” of jobs. The first argument may be somewhat correct, but the second “thousands” of jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline is a lie.
But, conservationists claim that fracking and the Keystone Pipeline pose environmental threats. Fracking uses high pressure water to break up or “frack” rock in order to release the oil trapped in these rocks. I have not found anything that shows what happens to the “polluted” water once the rocks are fracked. Does that water come back to the surface in a safe manner? Or, does it seep through the ground and contaminate drinking water. We already know it “wastes” water that is desperately needed in drought stricken regions. That is the environmentalists concern.
The Keystone XL Pipeline has the potential of leaking. That is true of all pipelines. There was a major leak in Montana recently where oil came bubbling out of the ground on a ranchers property from a pipeline. I have also discovered that the “easement” rights that TransCanada is trying to get from people whose property the Keystone Pipeline will cross does not make TransCanada responsible for all leaks either. One couple in Nebraska said yesterday that if a leak sprung from the Pipeline, TransCanada has the right to argue that the owners of the property caused the leak and are therefore bear full responsible for clean-up costs. The Pipeline is proposed to be just 275 feet from their house.
Furthermore, Canada’s National Energy Board has concluded that TransCanada is out of compliance with federal rules in several key safety areas. According to the report, TransCanada operates safely “for the most part” but the company failed to pass muster in four out of nine sub-categories: hazard identification, risk assessment and control; operational control-upset or abnormal operating conditions; inspection, measurement and monitoring; and management review.
The NEB said it is troubled by TransCanada’s “over-reliance on lagging indicators; inadequate consideration of NEB safety advisories notifying where hazardous conditions existed and regulatory requirements were not being met; and ineffective implementation of internal practices. This investigation was the result of a whistleblowers complaint against the company in 2012. Even though the company was due to be inspected in the third quarter of 2013, it was moved up because of the complaint.
“The board notes that a number of the allegations of regulatory non-compliance were identified and addressed by TransCanada only after the complainant’s allegations were made and were not proactively identified by the company’s management system,” the NEB said. The regulator said TransCanada’s practice and procedures to deal with reporting of employee concerns were not effectively implemented at the time of the audit.
Although this all may sound minimal, it makes one wonder if TransCanada is the right company to “build a pipeline” across the breadbasket of America. Can they be trusted to properly ensure all safety requirements are met? Can they be trusted to protect the land their pipeline crosses? Their history does not scream that they are all that competent in safety related matters.
The fracking issues hit the front page this week as well. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson has been criticizing fracking regulations as “holding back the American economic recovery”. But, it seems that Mr. Tillerson has joined a lawsuit against a fracking operation on property that adjoins his. The lawsuit claims that the operation will create heavy trucks running across property, causing loud noise and harming the ecology.
Mr. Tillerson joined the law suit when he discovered that a water tower needed for the high pressure water used in fracking would be built right next to his property. Mr. Tillerson claims this will “harm the value of his property” and that is why he has joined the law suit. Mr. Tillerson isn’t so in favor of helping the “American economic recovery” if it is too close to his own property. Apparently, Exxon isn’t the company doing the drilling here.
I am not an expert in either the operation of fracking or of building a pipeline. But, I do believe that both of these issues need to be examined very closely. The Keystone Pipeline will produce zero gas for our country. The oil that is going to be passed through the pipeline is headed to China. So, what is the real value compared to the hazards of the pipeline to us?
Fracking is supposed to be safe. So why is the CEO of the largest oil company, that receives billions of dollars in subsidies from the Federal Government, so against it being done next door? Apparently, he knows something the rest of us do not. That alone should cause an uproar in Congress and a formal investigation into the fracking operations. Either that, or the Republican Party is all in favor of bringing back NIMBY-ism!