Thursday, December 20, 2012

Back from the brink of extinction
The tar sands are a geological marvel: an 84,000 square miles deposit – an area the size of Kansas – but the sand is soaked with 5–25 percent heavy petroleum. In total, the Alberta sands are estimated to contain 169 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest petroleum deposits in the world. Experts say the oil sands’ operations could produce 465,000 U.S. jobs in construction, refining, petrochemicals and other sectors by 2035, if President Obama finally lets the Keystone XL pipeline go forward.

Where the sand is near the surface, as in the woods bison area, it’s mined with huge shovels and trucks. However, 98 percent of the oil sands lie in a thick bed 200 to 400 feet below the surface. That oil is recovered via drilling and steam injection.

Crews drill a pair of wells a precise five feet apart – one above the other. Each well goes straight down about 150 feet, and then turns to run horizontally for about a mile! Steam is pumped into the upper line. It escapes through perforations in the pipe, then heats and liquefies the oil. The hot liquid oil drips down to the lower pipeline, where more perforations collect the petroleum and pump it to the surface.

The steam recovery units occupy clearings in the muskeg forest, each several miles apart, and covering only about two football fields’ worth of land. These “wounds” also move slowly over the years. As each section of oil sands is steam-cleaned of about 75 percent of its petroleum, the drilling, steam and processing pad is vacated. Then it’s turned back into muskeg and forest.

Eco-activists loudly decry the oil sands, but it’s hard to understand why. If 84,000 square miles of wildlife habitat was being permanently converted to fields of corn and switchgrass for biofuels, I’d understand their concern about lost habitat. Taking that much land out of food crops has radically raised the price of corn, and thus of all the world’s meats, dairy products, corn syrup, tortillas. Even bread.

Instead of high-cost biofuels, the tar sands produce enormous quantities of petroleum for transportation, petrochemicals – and for the fertilizers and diesel fuel needed to produce high-yield crops on the world’s prime soils.
Terrible Track Record [Michigan Capitol Confidential]
Government's 'green' venture capitalism experiment a failure.
Green Weenie of the Week: The Green Ninja | Power Line
First there was Captain Planet. Then there was EcoKat from Kansas State University. Remember her? Well now there’s the Green Ninja from San Jose State University. You’ll be pleased to know that this project was supported by . . . taxpayers. Naturally.
Chuck Hagel's Real Problem May Be Climate Change -
One of the first high profile things that Hagel worked on after coming to the U.S. Senate in 1997 was going after the Kyoto climate accord. He was a congressional observer at the meeting and, along with the late coal champion Sen. Robert Byrd, authored the resolution against it.

To be fair, that measure passed 95-0

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