Br’er Canada and the Tar Baby

From Slate Feb 2013:

The biggest winner from a halted Keystone XL will be the railroads. And of them, the biggest winner might just be the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by Obama supporter and Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett. In December, the CEO of BNSF, Matthew Rose, said that his railroad was shipping about 500,000 barrels of oil per day out of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and that it was seeking a permit to send “crude by rail to the Pacific Northwest.” He also said the railroad expects to “eventually” be shipping 1 million barrels of oil per day.

There’s no small bit of irony here. A century ago, populists on the left rose to prominence by condemning the moneyed interests, and in particular, the big banks and the railroads. The Populist Party Platform of 1892 said that “the people must own the railroads.” And yet now, in the name of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the environmental left could hand the railroads a major windfall and get nothing in return but a symbolic victory.

Condemning the oil industry, holding rallies, and getting arrested at the White House is easy. Preventing the world’s single most important commodity from getting to the marketplace? That’s a lot harder.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/02/keystone_pipeline_protests_oil_companies_will_just_use_railroads.html

Science Matters

Disney animation of “Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby” from Songs of the South, a collection of Uncle Remus American folk tales.

On Nov. 6, 2015, President Obama canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada PM Trudeau, just installed and wanting not to offend, politely said he was “disappointed.” Here is the back story that you won’t hear in the media.


Americans should know all about tar pits. As the traditional folk tale suggests, there have been many tar pools across the US. A famous one is in Los Angeles: La Brea Tar Pit. Pictured above around 1910, it’s an oil spill produced by Nature.  Notice the many oil derricks nearby.

Tar pits are composed of heavy oil fractions called gilsonite, which seeped from the Earth as oil. In Hancock Park, crude oil seeps up along the 6th Street Fault from the Salt Lake Oil Field, which underlies much of the Fairfax District…

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