There’s money in them there tar sands

Posted: 11/17/2014 in Screwed
Tags: , , , ,

China needs energy.  Preferably in the form of oil.  But oil has to be shipped across the ocean in big tankers.

Canada’s got oil in the form of “tar sands”.  But it’s in the middle of the country, far from any coast.  So how can they turn that oil into cash?  The big plan has always been the Keystone XL project, but that’s been held up by politics in the Village.  Although virtually all the politicians (at least all of the ones getting huge bundles of cash from various Tar Sands Project backers) are in favor of allowing Canada to pipe sludge all the way down to Texas where there are both refineries and shipyards.  For some reason the voters, who will receive absolutely nothing but the oil spill cleanup bills from this arrangement, aren’t happy about it.  And so far, it’s been a stalemate.

But then Timothy Geithner retired from the Secretary of Treasury job and slid sideways into the position of president of Warburg Pincus.  Warburg Pincus just happens to be the single largest stockholder of MEG Energy.  MEG Energy owns the leases on several of the big oil sands locations and is therefore very interested in getting the bitumen (i.e., tar) from the middle of Canada to some coast where it can be shipped to China.  Geithner still has a lot of clout in D. C., so it’s a foregone conclusion that sooner or later, the Keystone pipeline will be approved.  Probably “sooner”, now that the voters have shot themselves in the foot by giving the GOP (Greed is my Middle Name) major majorities in both Washington and in most of the states.

Only, the tar sands backers are getting impatient.  So impatient that they decided to find a way to start sending the bitumen down to Houston without waiting for a new pipeline.  By shunting the tar into existing pipes, they can start getting some of that sweet crude money now instead of later.  Of course there’s a tiny hitch: the old pipelines weren’t built to carry tar.  So when the pump pressure is increased to push the bitumen through the network, leaks happen. Well, “leaks” isn’t quite strong enough to describe the effect.  Multiple oil spills is more accurate.  But don’t worry, your tax dollars are at work trying to contain the resulting carnage.  Nothing to see here — move along.  These are not the tar sands you’re looking for.

In order to understand how we came to this point, it’s important to understand how money is seen by human nature.  People are a tribal (i.e., herd) animal, so to keep from being at the bottom of the pecking order, individuals must gather enough power to claw their way towards the top.  And keep clawing every day.  Because there’s no such thing as standing still.  You’re either climbing the greasy pole of power or you’re sliding down to the bottom.

Since money is a big substitute for “importance” in our society, it turns out that tar sands export money looks the same as money in a bag passed under a table.  It’s all “power” in a convenient package.  And what sane herd animal is going to pass up power in a convenient package?  After all, you wouldn’t want your political leaders to act insane, now would you?  I thought not.  Then you should be happy.  Neither politicians nor businessmen are ever going to act against their own nature.  No matter how many times the voters do it.


Be seeing you.

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