Friday, July 20, 2012

Existing Pipeline Near DFW May Transport Tar Sands Oil

An existing pipeline just east of Dallas could be carrying tar sands oil through Texas as early as June.While President Barack Obama has stopped Canadian energy companies from building a new tar sands pipeline across the international border, his permission is not needed to ship the heavy crude through existing pipelines.Enter the Seaway pipeline.  It crosses 16 Texas counties, including Grayson, Collin, Rockwall and Kaufman just North and East of Dallas.

During its 36 years Seaway has transported natural gas and crude from the Texas Gulf north to Cushing, Oklahoma.

Now new pipeline owners expect to receive federal permission to ship oil in the opposite direction. And when they do they want to add tar sands oil from Canada, which is a combination of clay, sand, water and heavy, sticky black oil.

Smith:  These are pipelines of poison that are carrying products that are twenty times more acidic.

Tom Smith of Public Citizen says the chemicals and pressure typically used to move tar sands oil make this pipeline conversion dangerous, especially to major aquifers like the Trinity which supplies water to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Smith: This isn’t your granddaddy’s crude oil but it is your granddaddy’s old oil pipeline. And as a result it was never designed to be able to handle these kinds of tar sands crudes at the pressures and with the acidity that are going to be pushed through this. This is literally going to eat the pipeline right out. And leaks are more likely.

Rainey:  We feel comfortable that the safety measures in place are going to be adequate

That’s Rick Rainey of Enterprise Products Partners in Houston.  Enterprise and Canadian energy company Enbridge jointly own the Seaway pipeline.  Rainey expects light crude to be the primary product transported, but says the amount of pressure in the line won’t change if it’s used to ship tar sands oil.

Rainey:  When you move crude oil it’s a matter of how fast it can move. That determines how many barrels per day you’re able to move through the line. When the heavier grades come through the line they won’t be able to move as fast.  It will just be less delivered per day.

It appears they won't need state approval to do that or to ship the heavier crude through Seaway.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The best car for the zombie apocalypse isn't a Hyundai Elantra

With Comic-Con transforming the San Diego Convention Center into a fan boy's fantasy land this week, there are numerous movie, book, and video game announcements pouring out, teasing near-future projects. Mixed within are abundant marketing tie-ins. Before getting caught up with the latest super-hero film trailer, it is important to make sure the flashy sponsorship doesn't sway your zombie apocalypse preparedness. Automakers have long found television programming to be an effective, uh, vehicle for promoting their wares. The infectious AMC series "The Walking Dead" has been treated to sponsorship from Hyundai, leading to a Tucson being prominent in the survivors' caravan. (What the show really needed was RV sponsorship...) As a horror/sci-fi/comic fan, I appreciate any corporate support that can see creative programming reach the masses without compromising good story telling. But the latest Hyundai tie-in strikes me as a bit much, the just-unveiled Elantra Coupe (pictured above). Here at Consumer Reports, we rate the Elantra highly. It's well appointed, fuel efficient, and not a bad drive. But when it comes to facing a zombie apocalypse, I would seek mightier iron. To me, and yes I have given this too much thought, the ultimate survival machine must be an SUV with serious off-road abilities. A pickup truck is tempting, but the bed makes it too easy for flesh eaters to scramble aboard. And a fully Mad-Maxed compact coupe, even with a zombie-catcher plow, just doesn't cut it. True survival demands go-anywhere ability, easy egress with a machete, and ample storage for supplies.