Another day, another pointless protest along the route of the Keystone XL pipeline’s southern leg. Meantime, Americans remain supportive of the more controversial northern leg.
Protesters in Oklahoma (but not necessarily from Oklahoma) this week continued their childish antics of fastening themselves to construction equipment, getting arrested for it and — no doubt — tweeting about their heroics. Monday’s protest came on the final day of the U.S. State Department’s formal comment period for the project.
Also this week, the Environmental Protection Agency weighed in with the dog-bites-man news that it has major concerns about Keystone’s link between Cushing and Canada’s vast oil sands reserves. And a survey was released showing that nearly 75 percent of Americans support the project. This exceeds the 68 percent support registered in Canada.
While the Obama administration continues to dawdle on the northern leg, the route from Cushing to the Gulf Coast has the blessing of Barack Obama himself. He made a campaign stop near Cushing last year to announce his approval of the project. Yet the protesters keep showing up in southern Oklahoma to take a stand.
This week marked the fifth such effort. One protester said he came from Ames, Iowa, to defend the Red River. Really? Defend it from what? A Texas invasion?
The remark illustrates the mindlessness of this effort. Irrelevant comparisons to a pipeline break in Arkansas are about the only thing the protesters have going for them. We suggest that the Iowan head home and help defend Mississippi River towns from an extant flooding threat.
That would be productive and heroic.
The Keystone XL pipeline protesters who’ve been idiotically chaining themselves to construction equipment should perhaps consider chaining themselves to railroad tanker cars. But that would be dangerous. Instead, they take the safe and easy method outlined in the protest manuals supplied them by environmental groups.
Two Oklahomans were arrested this week on the Keystone route, the latest in a line of protester arrests. The new chant for anti-pipeline activists is “Remember the Mayflower!” This is a reference to the rupture of an aging pipeline in Arkansas in recent days. Keystone is a state-of-the-art pipeline being built between Cushing and the Gulf Coast.
Nary a peep was heard from the greenies when a train derailed last month, spilling thousands of gallons of crude oil in western Minnesota.
Here’s the truth that protesters need to chain themselves to: If oil isn’t piped underground, it will be transported over land in trucks and trains. This is a much riskier proposition for the environment. For the protesters, though, Keystone has the cachet they need to get attention for their pointless behavior.
Nancy Zorn, 79, of Warr Acres used a bicycle lock to attach herself this week to a piece of equipment being used to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline in Hughes County. Zorn was jailed when she refused to leave.
A group that opposes the pipeline quoted the woman as saying she couldn’t sit still while “toxic tar sands are pumped down from Canada into our communities.” Zorn’s hope was that she might inspire others to join the fight.
She shouldn’t hold her breath.
Oklahomans strongly favor construction of the Keystone pipeline. They understand that building the pipeline means jobs, and that worries about pipeline safety are red herrings offered by anti-fossil fuel zealots.
Zorn is left with a story to tell her grandchildren, but not much else. The pipeline is coming, and it should.
How quickly we forget. How quickly our memories could be jogged.
Gasoline prices are relatively low and were a nonissue in the presidential election. What could have been a major hurdle for Barack Obama wasn’t, another election-year stroke of luck for Obama.
Yet 2012 set a record for the highest average gasoline price — $3.60 a gallon, or 9 cents higher than the previous record set the year before. Not so long ago, motorists were complaining about soaring gas prices and grumbling about Obama’s connection to it. Truth is, presidents have little ability to do much about gas prices. Their energy policies can affect exploration and production of oil, but gas prices typically rise because of international conflicts, refinery problems and disruptions caused by weather.
Supply and demand also play a key role. The highest one-day price — $4.11 per gallon in July 2008 — was blamed on global demand. The subsequent recession deflated demand; prices began to fall. Last year, though, the price started edging up and stayed high enough to set a record for an average price for the year.
But that’s a distant memory as 2013 begins. It may not be distant for long, but whether a record will be reached this year will relate to demand, weather and refinery issues, not to the supposed greed of Big Oil.
Reports of the demise of oil exploration and production in Oklahoma are greatly exaggerated.
Note that we said “oil” not “oil and gas.” Exploration companies are hot on the trail of oil because that’s where the money is. Natural gas prices are so depressed that it’s no longer the hot commodity it was just three years ago.
Oklahoma-based energy firms explore for oil and gas throughout the continent, but they aren’t ignoring their own back yard. The Oklahoman’s Jay Marks reports that 2012 intent-to-drill applications hit 3,912 through November, more than the entire 2011 total. To put things in perspective, the figure was 22,685 in 1981. Not long after, a boom became a bust from which the industry slowly recovered.
One industry executive described current activity as “measured but steady.” That’s not a term normally associated with a heritage industry known for spectacular booms and devastating busts. Measured but steady is a good thing.
As head of Continental Resources Inc., Oklahoma native Harold Hamm has been at the forefront of the shale revolution that has turned North Dakota into a boom state.
Now Hamm has donated $10 million to the University of North Dakota’s school of geology to enhance educational offerings in petroleum geology and related fields.It is the largest gift ever from someone who is not an alumnus of the school.
President Barack Obama claims people like Hamm need to pay “a little more” in taxes as a matter of supposed fairness. But Hamm’s success in creating jobs and associated philanthropy far exceeds anything done by Obama in spite of the billions he’s wasted in stimulus funding.
If Obama gets his way, it will be students and job seekers currently benefiting from the vision of the Harold Hamms of the world who will ultimately pay the price.
As head of Continental Resources Inc., Oklahoma native Harold Hamm has been at the forefront of the shale revolution that has turned North Dakota into a boom state. Now Hamm has donated $10 million to the University of North Dakota’s school of geology to enhance educational offerings in petroleum geology and related fields.
It’s the largest gift ever from someone who is not an alumnus of the school. President Barack Obama claims people like Hamm need to pay “a little more” in taxes as a matter of supposed fairness. But Hamm’s success in creating jobs and associated philanthropy far exceed anything done by Obama in spite of the billions he’s wasted in stimulus funding.
If the president gets his way, it will be students and job seekers currently benefiting from the vision of the Harold Hamms of the world who will ultimately pay the price.
Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to … write about state revenue.
So we won’t let ourselves get off Walter Scott-free for an editorial in The Oklahoman this week that discussed a big drop in gross production tax revenue during August and the need for the administration to get busy building more liquefied natural gas export facilities.
We noted that gross production taxes totaled just $154,000, compared with $36.1 million in August 2011. That prompted one reader to call and point out that his energy company alone wrote a tax check larger than $154,000 last month.
We should have spelled out, as the state finance director did in the report we used as the basis of the editorial, that natural gas generated about $14 million in gross production tax revenue, but most of that was eaten up by “refunds and other required distributions.”
August was a down month for the state’s energy sector, yes. But cataclysmic? No.
Who needs more drilling here in America to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Not the Obama administration, which this week finalized rules requiring that average gas mileage for new cars and trucks nearly double — to 54.5 miles per gallon — by 2025.
The administration says the changes will leave us less reliant on foreign energy, save motorists money at the fuel pump and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney correctly points out that meeting the new standards will require more-expensive vehicles that will cancel out the savings consumers realize from filling up less frequently.
The gas mileage rules will be phased in gradually and will be reviewed in 2018. Perhaps by then we’ll be well on our way, under different leadership in the White House, to reaching oil independence through smart drilling and exploration programs instead of gimmicks.
Oklahomans need few reminders of the importance of the energy industry to the state. They’ll get more reminders next week as the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs holds an energy summit on Tuesday and an American Energy Alliance (AEA) bus tour makes a stop here on Friday.
One in every seven Oklahoma jobs is directly or indirectly tied to energy, according to the AEA. The group’s bus tour has already logged more than 2,000 miles to spotlight the continued importance of fossil fuels in the age of renewable energy mania. The bus will be at the Oklahoma History Center near the state Capitol at 9 a.m. Friday.
OCPA’s National Policy Summit on Energy & Federalism is scheduled for the new Devon Energy Center in downtown Oklahoma City. Panel discussions will focus on national security and state and federal regulations.
Energy’s importance is highlighted monthly in reports on state revenues and demonstrated daily by the thousands of industry employees who live, work and shop in the state. Fossil fuel is still cool here. May it be so for a long time to come.
By the way, those buses that ferry Barack Obama campaigners around the country this fall won’t be running on solar power.