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Don’t believe the rhetoric
In regard to Nathaniel Batchelder’s May 22 commentary, “No time for pipeline” (Oklahoma Gazette):
As we draw near to a decision on a presidential permit to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the rhetoric by our opponents trying to make the project a referendum on oil sands development is becoming more shrill and even less factual. These activists would have you believe that a Keystone XL approval means game over for humanity and the planet. Such claims are wildly inaccurate and completely unhelpful for Americans trying to learn the facts about Keystone XL, which has gone through four federal environmental reviews and four strong votes of support from the U.S. House.
In truth, greenhouse gas emissions from the Canadian oil sands contribute 1/1000th of the total amount of emissions globally. A 2012 U.S. Congressional Research Service study found greenhouse gas emissions from energy produced from oil sands crude delivered by Keystone would increase U.S. annual greenhouse gas emissions by a paltry 0.06 to 0.3 percent.
The crude oil in Keystone is the same as the millions of barrels of crude oil already being transported across the U.S., and it poses no additional risk to the public. The U.S. Department of State’s updated environmental impact statement on Keystone XL concluded that the pipeline will have minimal impact on the environment.
Batchelder’s claim that the oil sands will surface mine an area the size of Florida is completely incorrect. Alberta’s surface mining area is limited to an 1,850-square-mile region near Fort McMurray, about 3 percent of the size of the Sunshine State. Just 294 square miles of this area is being disturbed by oil sands mining.
Pipelines are by far the safest way of transporting petroleum products. Our existing Keystone pipeline has safely delivered more than 400 million barrels of crude oil to U.S. refineries since
July 2010. The pipeline in the ground has never leaked — period. Batchelder knows that the small number of spills that have occurred from Keystone have all been related to leakage from small fittings and seals on our property at aboveground pump stations, all of which were repaired and cleaned up with no environmental impact. The average amount of oil leaked was five gallons.
We have maintained since 2010 — and the State Department concurs — that building the pipeline will create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs for American workers and is expected to inject approximately $3.4 billion into the U.S. GDP.
Right now, 4,000 American workers are constructing the Gulf Coast Pipeline
Project from Cushing, Okla., south to Nederland, Texas, to serve the Gulf Coast marketplace.
Recent polls indicating that approval ratings for Keystone XL are 60 percent and growing among the American public are proof that people are getting the facts about this important project. The misinformation and scare tactics used by opponents of Keystone XL and all fossil fuel development can only work for so long — and then the facts will get in the way. That’s why increasing numbers of Americans are throwing their support behind Keystone XL.
—Alex Pourbaix Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Pourbaix is TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines.
Getting past coal
In a recent letter to the editor in favor of burning toxic coal to generate electricity, Doug Rixmann (”Bashing coal,” May 1, Gazette) repeatedly demonstrated his lack of understanding of the consequences of burning coal to produce electricity, as well as the costs and risks associated with retrofitting older plants rather than retiring them and replacing them with clean energy.
Rixmann lauded a coal-fired power plant in Colorado that was retrofitted recently, touting it as a model for Oklahoma. My research shows that Colorado Springs City Council members were vehemently opposed to spending an additional $121 million on top of tens of millions already invested in retrofits for the plant. The council was particularly opposed to “throwing more good money after bad” after funding a study on decommissioning (closing) Drake in 15 years or earlier.
Multiple reports published by engineering firms and groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists demonstrated that this Colorado plant would still pollute too much and would cost consumers too much if regulators and the utility chose to keep the plant running past its prime.
Concerns about health dangers associated with coal-fired power plants are not just for Colorado. We should be concerned in Oklahoma, too. This state has six coal-fired power plants, all of which will need to comply with federal safeguards.
Rather than “throwing more good money after bad” like Colorado Springs did, we need to consider the benefits of retiring and replacing the older and dirtier coal plants with cleaner energy to benefit our local economy.
Scrubbers can reduce emissions, but they can’t eliminate them entirely. Furthermore, there are threats to our air and water associated with the entire life cycle of coal, from the mining to the burning to the disposal of the waste.
Rixmann can continue to focus on the past, but Oklahoma shouldn’t. Coal has not been the best option for powering our state, or the nation, for a long time. Let’s focus on our homegrown resources that promote clean air and a prosperous economy.
—Jody Harlan Yukon
Harlan is chapter chair of Sierra Club Oklahoma.
You kidding me?
When I started reading the letter to the editor titled “Hooray for G.W.” (May 8, Gazette) by David Oliver, I thought it some tart satire. I soon realized that Mr. Oliver was deeply deluded and/or vastly enriched by the eight years in which G.W. stole two elections, started two entirely unnecessary wars (making puppetmaster Cheney millions in no-bid contracts), bankrupting the country with tax cuts for millionaires, stopping much-needed stem cell research, tortured suspects in violation of the Geneva Convention, ordered the rendition of Americans, gave a whole hour of flight to the victims of Katrina and performed various and sundry violations of law, good sense and his oath of office.
I guess this counts as “Mission Accomplished” for some microcosm of the electorate that Mr. Oliver obviously reveres while most of the world hates us.
—Larry Stem Oklahoma City
College and life Regarding Vince Orza’s commentary about kids in college today (”College shouldn’t be never-ending,” May 15, Gazette), he doesn’t understand one big point: High schools don’t teach kids about career choices.
Which school offers a real, semesterlong class where kids are shown the reality of college-based occupations vs. technical school occupations? Which high school has a mandatory class that has testing for a student’s interests/abilities and helps a kid match that to real job careers with a livable salary?
Kids watch TV and see different situations where nearly everyone makes a great salary, lives in a beautiful home and never seems to have money problems. That isn’t what happens to most of us.
There should be a class that every student must take that tests them and shows the students and their parents where the child’s natural abilities and interests lie, what careers match with those abilities and their earning potential. Kids need to know that some college degree careers pay less than some vo-tech careers. The class also needs to teach kids about everything from checking/ savings account info to credit cards and mortgage- and car-payment scenarios.
I graduated from college in 1977; it took me five years. I changed majors three times, adding a year to college. They didn’t have a class like that in 1972, either.
—Scot Campbell Coyle
Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.