New Bakken Shale Pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma in the Works
By Steve Horn
The Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sands crude from the tar sands epicenter of the world in Alberta, Canada, take it down to Cushing, Okla., and then eventually down to Port Arthur, Texas, where it will be refined and placed on the lucrative oil export market.
While Republicans continue to try to make Keystone XL a campaign issue, President Obama has officially put the fate of the pipeline on the backburner until after the November 2012 U.S. elections.
Most recently in the limelight: Obama's late-March approval of the TransCanada Cushing Extension, which extends from Cushing, Okla.—the self-proclaimed "pipeline crossroads of the world"—to Port Arthur, Texas.
Now, another key pipeline proposal is in the works, one that would move unconventional oil and gas obtained via the problematic hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") process in North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin southward to Cushing, where it would then be moved to Port Arthur and also placed on the global export market. Another portion of that pipeline would move the oil and gas westward toward Coos Bay, Ore., where it would also be exported to the highest bidder.
A review, then, is in order.
Enter the Bakken Crude Express Pipeline
On April 11, Wyoming's Casper Star-Tribune reported, "A natural gas company wants to build a 1,300-mile pipeline to carry crude oil from North Dakota through easternmost Wyoming on its way to the nation’s biggest storage terminal in central Oklahoma (Cushing)." The deal will cost somewhere between $1.5-1.8 billion, according to the Associated Press.
The company and name of the pipeline? Oneok Partners LP's Bakken Crude Express Pipeline. The pipeline essentially performs the same function TransCanada's proposed but not yet approved portion of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, known in the business world as the Bakken Marketlink Project.
Oneok hopes the pipeline is in place and pumping out 200,000 barrels of oil per day "from the heart of North Dakota’s rich oil patch to the hub in Cushing, Okla." by 2015.
Opal, Wyoming: Where the Bakken Shale and Niobrara Shale Converge
The Bakken Crude Express isn't the only one in play in this deal.
Oneock's Bakken Pipeline, as well as Williams Company's and Oneock's Overland Pass Pipeline—which both co-own on a 50-50 joint venture basis—are also part of this deal and are all key pieces of the oil and gas industry's big-picture pipeline infrastructure puzzle.
The Bakken Pipeline will pump the oil and gas fracked from the Bakken and carry it southward to the meeting point of the Bakken Pipeline and the Overland Pass Pipeline. Some of that oil will continue moving southward toward Cushing, while some of it will divert westward to the city of Opal, Wyo., another key pipeline fork in the road.
Oil and gas piped further southward toward Cushing will now be part of Oneock's Bakken Crude Express. Oil and gas being piped westward toward Opal will connect with the Ruby Pipeline, which carries gas fracked in the Niobrara Shale westward to Malin, Ore. From Malin, the oil and gas will continue its westward voyage to the city of Coos Bay, via the Pacific Connector Pipeline, where it will end up at the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and placed on the Asian gas export market.
If all of these pipelines are approved, one would see oil and gas liquids fracked in the Bakken and Niobrara Shale basins both placed on the global export market, the former in the Asian and European export markets, the latter exclusively on the Asian export market.
What do American citizens get out of the deal? Higher home heating prices and all the pollution problems associated with the extraction and transportation of these dirty fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry gets what it wants—higher profits from overseas buyers. So much for the gas industry talking point that "natural gas promises more affordable energy for Americans."
The Alternative: Flaring?
Close observers of the North American oil and gas industry know that the Bakken has been the home of vast amounts of gas flaring, a process recently condemned by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economy (CERES) and written about by DeSmogBlog.
Flaring—as noted by a startling 2004 Friends of the Earth UK (FOE UK) briefing—creates horrific climate and ecological damage.
The flares also contain widely-recognised toxins, such as benzene, which pollute the air. Local people complain of respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. According to the U.S. government, the flares contribute to acid rain and villagers complain of the rain corroding their buildings. The particles from the flares fill the air, covering everything with a fine layer of soot.
Local people also complain about the roaring noise and the intense heat from the flares. They live and work alongside the flares with no protection.
Bearing that in mind, it is important to dig to the root of the problem: extreme oil and gas extraction methods, such as fracking and tar sands development, and not what DeSmogBlog has referred to as playing the game of "pipeline whack-a-mole."
To repeat what we wrote then, as it is the same game, merely different pipelines:
Basically, we're grasping for leftovers from the original fossil fuel frenzy, and still ignoring the fact that we're not only running out, we're also cooking the atmosphere with global warming pollution in the process.
Alas, until we awaken from this delusion, it's still damned if we do, damned if we don't.
Some day maybe we'll pursue a real clean energy future. Until then, it's 'pipe dreams' for the foreseeable future.
For more information, click here.
Stay up-to-date on the latest fracking news by clicking here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
- Climate Crisis Brings India's Worst Locust Invasion in Decades ... ›
- Climate Crisis Made Australia's Historic Wildfires at Least 30% More ... ›
- 4 Climate Crisis Solutions No One Is Talking About - EcoWatch ›
- Top Government Scientist Transferred After Questioning Trump ... ›
- Trump Admin Manipulated Wildfire Science to Encourage Logging ... ›
- NOAA Officials Backed Trump's False Dorian Claims Under Threat ... ›
- Coronavirus and the Terrifying Muzzling of Public Health Experts ... ›
- 'Science Under Siege' From Trump Admin: New Report Warns We ... ›
More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.
- Botswana Auctions Off First Licenses to Kill Elephants Since Ending ... ›
- 'Heartbreaking' Vulture Poisoning in South Africa Raises Alarm ... ›
The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.
- As Extreme Weather Turns Deadly in the UK, Climate Activists Are ... ›
- UK Parliament First in World to Declare Climate Emergency ... ›
By Melissa Hawkins
After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.
Seven day rolling average of number of people confirmed to have COVID-19, per day (not including today). This chart gets updated once per day with data by Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins university doesn't provide reliable data for March 12 and March 13. Johns Hopkins CSSE Get the data
To Have a Second Wave, the First Wave Needs to End.<p>A wave of an infection describes a large rise and fall in the number of cases. There isn't a precise epidemiological definition of when a wave begins or ends.</p><p>But with talk of a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/27/new-covid-19-clusters-across-world-spark-fear-of-second-wave" target="_blank">second wave in the news</a>, as an <a href="https://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/mhawkins.cfm" target="_blank">epidemiologist and public health researcher</a>, I think there are two necessary factors that must be met before we can colloquially declare a second wave.</p><p>First, the virus would have to be controlled and transmission brought down to a very low level. That would be the end of the first wave. Then, the virus would need to reappear and result in a large increase in cases and hospitalizations.</p><p>Many countries in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0908-8" target="_blank">Europe and Asia have successfully ended the first wave</a>. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/08/new-zealand-abandons-covid-19-restrictions-after-nation-declared-no-cases" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus" target="_blank">Iceland</a> have also made it through their first waves and are now essentially coronavirus-free, with very low levels of community transmission and only a handful of active cases currently.</p>
Different States, Different Trends<p>Looking at U.S. numbers as a whole hides what is really going on. Different states are in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html" target="_blank">vastly different situations right now</a> and when you look at states individually, four major categories emerge.</p><ol><li>Places where the first wave is ending: States in the Northeast and a few scattered elsewhere experienced large initial spikes but were able to mostly contain the virus and substantially brought down new infections. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/new-york-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">New York</a> is a good example of this.</li><li>Places still in the first wave: Several states in the South and West – see <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/texas-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Texas</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/california-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">California</a> – had some cases early on, but are now seeing massive surges with no sign of slowing down.</li><li>Places in between: Many states were hit early in the first wave, managed to slow it down, but are either at a plateau – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/north-dakota-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">North Dakota</a> – or are now seeing steep increases – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/oklahoma-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Oklahoma</a>.</li><li>Places experiencing local second waves: Looking only at a state level, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/hawaii-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Hawaii</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/montana-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Montana</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/alaska-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Alaska</a> could be said to be experiencing second waves. Each state experienced relatively small initial outbreaks and was able to reduce spread to single digits of daily new confirmed cases, but are now all seeing spikes again.</li></ol><p>The trends aren't surprising based on how states have been dealing with reopening. The virus will go wherever there are susceptible people and until the U.S. stops community spread across the entire country, the first wave isn't over.</p>
What Could a Second Wave Look Like?<p>It is possible – though at this point it seems unlikely – that the U.S. could control the virus before a vaccine is developed. If that happens, it would be time to start thinking about a second wave. The question of what it might look like depends in large part on everyone's actions.</p><p>The <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1086%2F592454" target="_blank">1918 flu pandemic</a> was characterized by a mild first wave in the winter of 1917-1918 that went away in summer. After restrictions were lifted, people very quickly went back to pre-pandemic life. But a second, deadlier strain came back in fall of 1918 and third in spring of 1919. In total, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm" target="_blank">more than 500 million people were infected</a> worldwide and upwards of <a href="https://theconversation.com/compare-the-flu-pandemic-of-1918-and-covid-19-with-caution-the-past-is-not-a-prediction-138895" target="_blank">50 million died</a> over the course of three waves.</p><p>It was the combination of a quick return to normal life and a mutation in the flu's genome that made it more deadly that led to the horrific second and third waves.</p><p>Thankfully, the coronavirus appears to be much more <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2020.104351" target="_blank">genetically stable</a> than the influenza virus, and thus less likely to mutate into a more deadly variant. That leaves human behavior as the main risk factor.</p><p>Until a <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-needs-to-go-right-to-get-a-coronavirus-vaccine-in-12-18-months-136816" target="_blank">vaccine or effective treatment is developed</a>, the tried-and-true public health measures of the last months – <a href="https://theconversation.com/this-simple-model-shows-the-importance-of-wearing-masks-and-social-distancing-140423" target="_blank">social distancing,</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/masks-help-stop-the-spread-of-coronavirus-the-science-is-simple-and-im-one-of-100-experts-urging-governors-to-require-public-mask-wearing-138507" target="_blank">universal mask wearing</a>, frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowded indoor spaces – are the ways to stop the first wave and thwart a second one. And when there are surges like what is happening now in the U.S., further reopening plans need to be put on hold.</p>
- U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Now No. 1 in World - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Pass 100,000 - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 2 Million as All 50 States Start ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.
- Fracking Industry's Propaganda Hypes Shale Gas Production and ... ›
- Another Blow to the Fracking Industry—Chesapeake Energy's ... ›
- Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Is Back to ... ›
By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud
Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?
- The Crunch Question on Climate: How Can I Help? - EcoWatch ›
- The Power of Collective Action Gangnam Style - EcoWatch ›
- Scientist Finds Remarkable Way to Connect People Emotionally ... ›