D.C.'s Keystone Kops

The famously inept Keystone Kops from the silent-movie era have relocated inside the Washington Beltway, performing the same kinds of inexplicable actions that were their trademark in the 1920s. President Barack Obama has refused to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver 700,000 additional barrels per day of synthetic crude oil produced from Canada's tar sands. He has given in to his radical environmental base that envisions impending catastrophic oil spills and perpetual damage to the water tables in the states that the pipeline goes through.

As a consequence, the Canadians will build a pipeline west out of Alberta to the Pacific and sell the crude to China — leaving us increasingly vulnerable to foreign crude supplies from countries that hate us and want to destroy us.

Crude oil from the Athabasca tar sands has been delivered by pipeline to U.S. refineries in the Midwest since the 1960s. Imported crude oil is also delivered to the Midwest by pipeline from Texas and Louisiana. Today, millions of barrels per day of products are delivered by the Colonial and Plantation pipeline systems from the refineries on the Gulf Coast to the East Coast and Southern states in extremely complex multiple-product, multi-company deliveries. In 40 years, there have never been any major pipeline spills of crude or refined products.

The Kops have prevented exploration for oil on the continental shelves and Arctic National Wildlife Refuse for 40 years. Currently, they are trying to strangle Iran economically and have started the spin to justify shutting in Iranian oil production, and possible military action.

In response, Iran has threaten to shut off oil deliveries through the Straits of Hormuz and, if backed into a corner with no way out, will probably use mines and rocket attacks on loaded vessels in the straits. Alternatively, Iran can scuttle loaded tankers under its control and set them on fire. In either case, ships' masters will not enter the gulf. Iran could also attack the terminal and refining facilities in Kuwait andSaudi Arabia's Ras Tanura, reducing the production of Kuwaiti and Saudi crude and refined products.

It is impossible to determine when or how the Iranians will react to our increased pressure, but the end result will likely be crude oil at more than $150 per barrel, driving the fragile world economy into a deep depression.

Not factored into the Kops' strategy is the reaction of China and Russia, who support Iran. The Russians have provided the technology for the Iranian nuclear industry; China has invested heavily in Iran's natural gas industry; and Iran is a major source of China's crude oil supplies. A military attack would have the distinct possibly of killing Russian or Chinese engineers and broadening the adventure to conflict with China and/or Russia.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S. the Kops have determined that our future will be the wind and sun, even though multiple studies in the U.S. and Europe show that since electric power cannot be stored, fossil fuel plants must be inefficiently cycled to provide instant power into the grid to accommodate the erratic behavior of wind farms — with no reduction in fossil fuel consumed. Solar plants require massive amounts of land to make any dent in traditional power consumption and require the same cycling operations of fossil fuel plants when the sun doesn't shine.

The Kops forced the use of corn ethanol in gasoline in 2005. This doubled the price of food, as corn available directly as human food and indirectly through animal feed was significantly reduced. Refiners are now being fined for not including experimental biofuels in gasoline that are not available in mass production.

One bright spot for energy in the U.S. is the tying of 50-year-old hydro-fracturing technology to more recent horizontal drilling to produce shale oil and natural gas. Environmentalist actions have stopped shale gas production in Ohio, Maryland and New York on unfounded concerns over damage to Eastern water tables. The Kops are now considering action to make shale gas production more difficult on a national basis.

So, in summary, the Kops are thwarting new energy production; refusing to allow increased use of politically safe crude oil from Canada; fostering shortages of food supplies with questionable gasoline formulations; and planning new foreign activities that will make our energy imports much more expensive — and might even start World War III.

In the last 100 years, the British, French and Russians were humiliated by primitive armies and forced to leave the Middle East and Africa. Everything we have touched in the region in the last 50 years has turned into a disaster. We need to return the Beltway Keystone Kops to the archives of comedies; end our winless wars in the Middle East; increase Canadian crude imports; develop our own existing oil and gas reserves; build massive new nuclear- and gas-fueled electric generating capacity; develop high-speed electric train systems; expedite the conversion of our automobile fleet to electric power; and become indifferent to Middle Eastern crude supplies. The impediments are not technical or economic but comically political.

Charles Campbell, a Woodstock resident, is a retired senior vice president of Gulf Oil Corp. His email is lochawe@verizon.net.

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