Chris Hayes Debunks Myth that Approving Keystone XL and Fracking More Will Weaken Russia in Ukraine Crisis
By Denise Robbins
MSNBC host Chris Hayes blasted the myth that expanding unconventional energy sources in the U.S. will weaken Russia, an "absurd" claim that has been perpetuated by conservative media to pin the security crisis in Ukraine on President Barack Obama.
Conservative media are manipulating the Ukraine crisis to push a "drill, baby, drill" agenda, claiming that approving the Keystone XL pipeline and expanding the use of fracking will somehow weaken Russian President Vladimir Putin's influence in Ukraine. They are calling for expanding development of natural gas in the U.S. (including by the environmentally-contentious use of fracking) to ease the concern that Putin may cut off the natural gas supply to Ukraine and subsequently affect natural gas prices in Europe and around the globe.
Liquefying, exporting, and re-gassifying natural gas is more carbon intensive than domestically consuming natural gas and would likely drive up the price of natural gas in the U.S., so some oppose permitting further LNG export terminals—at least until fugitive methane emissions are reigned in.
Despite concerns, the Obama Administration has permitted several LNG export terminals and is expected to permit more. Republicans and the oil and gas industry complain that it's still not fast enough. However, as LNG is very expensive, reports have suggested that even if they were approved, many LNG export terminals probably won't even be used, or at least not for years—far too late to address the Ukraine crisis. MSNBC's Chris Hayes and his guest Dan Dicker, CEO of wealth management group MercBloc, explained on the March 5 edition of All In with Chris Hayes:
DICKER: The Russians do have a major control, major influence, on most of eastern Europe through natural gas. But we have to distinguish between natural gas—which is a gas—and crude oil which is a liquid. If you want to move a liquid from one place to another, you put in the a dixie cup and you can move it any way you like. Natural gas has two ways of being transported, one is through pipelines. Now, the U.S. can do nothing in terms of creating a pipeline to all of these eastern European nations.
The only other way you can get it across, and what they're talking about is permitting, is through what we call LNG, which is liquid natural gas. It needs to be cooled, natural gas, to be transported as LNG needs to be cooled to a minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit then put in very, very carefully into very select containers that you can now transport overseas. This costs a lot of money. This is why permitting—you could permit all of the natural gas export plants you want, there are very few energy companies who are going to undertake building these things, they cost $2 billion to convert an import plant into an export plant.
Energy analyst Chris Nelder agreed, writing in an email to Media Matters on Wednesday that liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects are years from completion (as is the Keystone XL pipeline) and may not be economically viable, meaning it is "simply wrong" to think they could undermine Putin:
U.S. LNG export projects are years away from completion, and I have serious questions about the ability of the U.S. to fulfill 20-year export contracts once they begin operation. I also suspect that U.S. natural gas prices may not remain low enough to make LNG exports viable over a 20-year horizon. So viewing LNG exports as a geopolitical tool is simply wrong, let alone a geopolitical tool that would specifically undercut Russia's exports.
Yet these myths continue to spread. Today, Newt Gingrich was featured on CNN's New Day to push for the expedition of LNG exports. Gingrich cited House Speaker John Boehner's recent statement calling on President Obama to alleviate the "excruciatingly slow approval process" that leads to "a de facto ban on American natural gas exports," going on to say "the greatest thing you can do to hurt Putin is reduce his enormous impact in Western Europe where Germany gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia":
And The Wall Street Journal published an editorial today to advocate for the U.S. to "unleash" oil and gas on the world as "leverage" to "reduce Putin's influence." The Board suggested that we "[b]egin by approving the Keystone XL pipeline," and went on to vouch for the expansion of LNG export terminals:
The U.S. has more responses to Vladimir Putin's adventure in the Crimea than the no-options caucus suggests, including a few that weren't possible even a few years ago. Namely, a President with a keener strategic mind would unleash North American oil and gas on the world.
A serious President would also fast-forward permits on new liquefied natural gas terminals that could ship to Europe.
Cheap, abundant American resources have helped lower global prices and reduce volatility, and this strategic asset could be turned to increase the pressure on Mr. Putin. He feeds his kleptocracy and client states with petro dollars. U.S. exports would reduce the threat of energy blackmail, and if they reduced global oil prices they'd reduce his influence.
Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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