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Oil, Oil Everywhere And Not a Drop to Burn

I read a very disconcerting article in the Friday February 13th, 2009 Wall Street JournalNorwegian Oil Firm Goes to Energy’s Last Frontier.  It should have been subtitled, “But We Aren’t”.   The sentence that helps you understand the issue is this:  “Shell was forced to give up plans to drill in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea this year after a legal challenge from green organizations.”    There are not only large oil deposits in the Arctic Circle (some of Alaska is in there).  But there have been recent discoveries of huge Natural gas fields.  (Gas doesn’t just stay in one little locale, as you may have discovered at a well-watered superbowl party with lots of bean-dip and beer).   The Norwegians discovered a huge Natural Gas field called the Snoehvit gas field.  Despite some objections by environmentalists, the Norwegians are drilling.

Now, I will get to my point which is very environmentalistic:  The objections to drilling in Anwar for oil have to do with environmental concerns over the Arctic Fox, caribou, and wolves, and their natural habitat being disturbed.  That’s not necessarily a bad concern at all.  In fact it’s a good one.   However, there is a severe problem with it.  The oil fields at Anwar are only about 125 miles from the existing Alaskan Oil Pipeline which was constructed at great expense, and required some spectacular engineering and human committment.  All of that is about to go to waste and severely endanger our environment, if we don’t drill in Anwar.  That’s right, if we don’t drill.  Here’s why:

There’s only about 3 billion barrels of oil left to drill at the current active sites in Alaska.  When that runs out, if there is no new oil flowing through the pipeline, they will become empty and cold, like the Congressman who just doubled our Federal Deficit.   Here’s the trouble with empty cold steel pipes:

Steel reacts dramatically to the cold. Unlike stone or masonry, which expands and contracts slowly and only slightly, steel will begin to twist, contort, warp and snap if it goes from being a nice warm pipe with hot oil flowing through it, to a freezing cold empty tube.

This is the reason steel studs on the exterior walls of buildings created so many lawsuits.  Steel studs behind masonry walls, twisted and flexed in the cold, snapping the masonry walls that faced them.  This was something that the engineers who designed them apparently didn’t prepare for.

How does this relate to Anwar?  Picture that long oil pipe that carries oil all the way through Alaska to refineries where it can finally be processed into a product that can fuel Al Gore’s lear jet.  Once warm oil stops flowing through those pipes bad things are likely to happen.

Steel bandings begin to twist, Rivets and weldings begin to pop, and then…

…and then it starts:  The residual oil in the pipes begins to leak, all over the ground, in the streams filled with Alaskan fish, in the mountains where the snow collects and flows down to the valleys, where the Casribou run, and the wolves follow, oil on their hooves and paws, all due to… thank you…

…the wishes of the environmentalists.

It’s reminiscent of how the left wing environmentalists virtually primed many forests, old growth forests for destruction by fire, and we have had wildfires.  How did they do that?   Lumbering companies wanted to cut wide paths through the forests and process the lumber that use to fill the paths. The paths would have separated one section of forest from the other, slowing the spread of fire, and allowing for the entrance of emergency vehicles.  But,    Enter ->  far-left environmentalists.   So much for balancing the need for industry, building materials, and protection of forests.  It had to do with the spotted owl which, though it has been discovered that it is apparently a prolific carrier of several species of lice.. even after it dies, and no one knows how that affects general forest population health,  but this noble bird and controller of rodents still needs to be protected – from the environmentalists.    Not that we should want to ruin things for far-left loons, or even lice,  for that matter…  but the one-way insistence of an uninformed left reminds one of that old saying…   Now, how does it go?  something like….

  “The Best Laid Plans of Lice and Liberals, aft…     end up destroying the environment they sought to protect.”    Yes, I think that’s it.

-John P. Schumake


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