It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Texas Tea Partiers vs Canadian Energy

... and you may be surprised at who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
a delay could also be forced by activists along the proposed pipeline route through Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. About 750 landowners have refused to allow the company, TransCanada Corp, on their land, setting the stage for court battles over compulsory purchase. ...

environmental concerns alone did not turn Daniel's neighbours against the pipeline. They claim that bullying did.

Locals in east Texas accuse TransCanada's agents of threatening them with compulsory purchase and of dismissing their concerns about safety in case of a leak.


Daniel said the company did not bother to notify him when it sent the first survey team to his property in 2008. A neighbour told him outsiders had been on his land. He found surveyors' stakes with flags reading PL. "My heart was just falling," he said. "I knew that meant pipeline."

The anger spread to Tea Party conservatives, the local chapter of Hawks – which stands for Handguns Are Worth Keeping Sacred – and even those who owed their fortunes to oil.
Yes, I do think property rights are limited and contingent. Yes I do think we need energy. No I don't think oil sands would be a bad idea if it weren't for greenhouse gases. And no, I don't think gun rights are sacred. So whose side am I on?

Well, there are two other principles at work. Anything that slows down the oil sands is good for the world. And it's never a good idea to mess with Texas.

Seriously? The world often fails to line up with out preconceptions. This comment at the linked article is sensible:

Mike Richards

3 March 2011 12:47AM

The thinking* of the Tea Party does my head in:

They do everything possible to sabotage a switch from oil, blocking tightening up on emissions, gutting regulators and arguing against science. Their favourite politicians rail against America importing crude from OPEC nations because that strengthens the 'turrists'. They deny that extracting tar sand is an environmental catastrophe and they've spent the last few years saying how wonderful it is to have Alberta's oil reserves right next door.

Now they're going to try and block a reliable supply of their favourite brown liquid (after tea).

Sooner or later one of them is going to commit a grave heresy by admitting America doesn't have much crude left and it might be a good idea to cut down on consumption. At which point they'll be carted off to a giant wicker Bachmann.

*yeah I'm being unduly charitable.

No, their idea is that the world is big and property rights are absolute, and what I do on my property is not your business, and if you don't like it, get your own damn property. This response is not surprising to me, though I find it amusing. It is very much tied into the idiotic grass roots opposition to high speed rail or really to just about anything that amounts to new infrastructure.

I wonder whether the Canadian pipeline company was unprepared for it. American "liberals" are acting as conservatives these days, protecting existing arrangements and established proprieties against wild experiments propagated by an impulsive rabble. And "conservatives" are localist, populist, isolationist, survivalists, with much in common with what the rest of the world considers the far left. It's a topsy turvy country if you ask me.


Lars said...

"Tar sands", please. Michael. More accurate - these deposits really are bitumen and sediment. "Oil sands" suggests something a bit less viscous and difficult to process.

Holly Stick said...

Some Albertans have similar views, and in Alberta the rural land base who usually support the Conservative provincial government are fighting it over proposed legislation that would affect their property rights. (It's also about building powerlines with taxpayers' money, presumably to export power, so private companies would profit.)

David B. Benson said...

Holly Stick --- The way it is supposed to work is that GenCos sell the electricity to TransCos who in turn sell the wheeled power to the RetailCos (utilities). Any of these might be either public or privately owned and all are to receive their 'fair' share.

The big difficulty with this in parts of the USA and much of Europe is that nobody wants to provide the right-of-way for the transmission lines anymore. The situation in Germany is so bad that the power companies are seriously considering expen$ive underground transmission lines to wheel power from the north to the south of the country.

Alberta is part of the Western Power Grid, but I rather doubt power exports are significantly more than imports.

Steve Scolnik said...

Oh, the irony! Koch, the funder of tea partyism, is a major playa in the TransCanada thingy.

Jonathan Gilligan said...

@Lars: Indeed. My standing offer is to start calling the stuff in Alberta "oil sands" when the bituminous fossil site in LA is renamed the "La Brea Oil Pits" (or, more properly, the "El Aceite Oil Pits").

byron smith said...

Given the radical ecologically and socially destabilising effects of contemporary hyper-capitalism as espoused by pretty much all mainstream parties these day, there is a way in which "far-left" Greens parties are frequently the most conservative element in much contemporary politics.

ijish said...

MT, but are the Tea Partiers really abiding by some "property rights" principle, or are they protesting merely because this particular issue happens to concern their property? There's a difference.

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

What the Kochs and their buddies and their paid sock puppets want and what the rest of the people at their rallies want is not the same. It's important to understand this.

The brilliance of the Koch strategy is in posing as friends of the rural public. Maybe they even believe it.

But it's exactly unfettered corporate behavior, not petty rural xenophobia, that is destroying the towns and agricultural communities. I'm not saying the rural culture is faultless; I am saying the alliance is not in their interests.

josullivan58 said...

Texas has a broadly written law that allows oil companies to exercise eminent domain over public lands. I had to do legal research at the Texas General Land Office when I was in law school about ten years ago, and at that time there was no law that overruled it.

I don't know what the law in Texas says about oil companies seizing private property. The powers that be in Texas over the past 100 years have always done the biding of big oil.

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. At stake seem to be some of the core principals of the tea party verses the financial backers of the tea parties interests.

Lars said...

@ Jonathan Gilligan.

...yes, and then there's that business with Br'er Rabbit and the Oil Baby, and those Oil Heels living down in the Carolinas...

One could go on.

Holly Stick said...

If you want details about the Alberta electricity boondoggle, Andrew Nikiforuk has them; an excellent reporter on issues such as the Bituminous Sands (to be really picky about the name, though I use tarsands and sometimes oil sands). He also has an personal interest as a landowner. In this case also you have people of different political persuasions working together against a bad government idea.

Two articles: