Saturday, April 23, 2011

Let's call a spade a spade

<$BlogMetaData$>April 29th, 2011

Let’s call a spade a spade

Let’s quit playing patty cake about oil and oil refining and call it what it is. It is a Dirty, Disgusting, Debilitating, Diseased gut wrenching industry that preys on communities such as ours and turns them from beautifully landscaped farms and rolling hills to a pariah sucking the very life out of everyone around.

Let’s go to where all this filth begins and follow it to the refinery. The Boreal forests of Canada are pristine wildernesses that are vital to the ecosystem of the world. It is being raped, pillaged and plundered for the wealth that lay below this vital beautiful land. The Athabasca region in Canada, and now the northern Great Plains are home to strip miners that are systematically destroying one of the great wonders of the world. Once the forests are gone they will never be replaced.

Canadas claim that this area contains more sludge than any other part of the world is not going unnoticed. China has also discovered Boreal Forests in their region of the world that has even more sludge than Canada and I’m sure they will commence to mine this as well to satiate their country’s demand for more oil products. Can you see where this is leading?

The vision that I have of these forests being systematically being destroyed is like a scene from an old movie where ‘Fat old king Cole’ is slouched in his big overstuffed chair eating a big hunk of greasy slimy meat and throwing the bone to the dogs. I think this is a great analogy of what the industry is doing to greedy little oil companies that are trying to convince us this is all being done in the name of ‘Economic Development’ for our county. They are tossing us the bones.

The bitumen (tar sands) that is mined in an open pit is not viscous enough to be sent down the pipeline by itself. It must be diluted with other toxic chemicals and heated to enable it to flow to the refinery hence a new acronym is added to your overflowing dictionary. It is called dilbit (diluted bitumen). Kinda like Dilbert (you know the knucklehead that you give this polite name to). That was my first impression when i heard the name. Remember this name, because you are going to become very familiar with it.

The following article was sent to me by one of my readers. This excerpt is taken from the ‘PRAIRIE FIRE’ article written by Julie Meyers. In it she gives a very painted description of Dilbit. “Unlike conventional crude, Dilbit is

• 15 to 20 times higher in acid concentrations.

• Contains 5 to 10 times as much sulfur.

• A high concentration of chloride salts, which can lead to chloride stress corrosion in high-temperature pipelines, and

• Higher quantities of abrasive quartz sand particles.”

Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that with all this corrosive ‘junk’ coming down the line, pipeline failure is going to happen more frequently. Dilbit has been used for years in Canada, and the failure rate of the pipeline is 16 times higher than pipelines in the United States that do not use dilbit. Again, it is not a case of if it fails, it is ‘when’ it fails, and the spills could have catastrophic consequences.

Look at what is happening now in the state of Nebraska. The lawsuit is going all the way to the state supreme court because of the Keystone XL pipeline going across the sandhills. The Ogallala aquifer is very shallow there, and a rupture in the pipeline could have devastating effects on the drinking water in many states, as the aquifer is one of the largest in the United States. This is not something to mess around with folks, mother nature can really get mad. XL is going to rely heavily on computers to monitor the system to enable the folks in the control room to isolate the spill faster to minimize the spill. You can see that they are already planning on spills, it is just how much can they limit it to.

If a pipeline were to come to this area, it would be using dilbit technology because Keystone I pumps regular ‘sweet’ crude. XL is the only one pumping dilbit. Even if Hyperion were to run its own pipeline, it would use dilbit technology because they are pumping tar sands, not crude.

When dilbit gets to the final destination, all those toxic chemicals must be removed before the bitumen can be refined.

Now let’s look at this from another angle.

Thanks to the Madville Times for the following article from The Economist. It gives credence to strengthening my hypothesis (gut feeling) that Hyperion will never show its ugly refinery in union county.

“The refining business has suffered from chronic overcapacity, and thus weak margins, since the 1970s oil shocks, which led to a slump in the use of oil-based fuels for generating electricity and heating homes. A respite came in 2005-07, as a buoyant rich world and increasingly thirsty emerging economies boosted demand. But that was a high point that the rich world may not hit again. Demand for petrol in America has fallen, and may never regain its previous peak. Refining margins, having touched $4.50 a barrel, are down to one-tenth of that and still falling.”

When people read this they are going to think twice about investing in a risky venture where they will not get any return on their money until the refinery starts ‘pumping.’ Big oil companies in the United States are not going to invest because they are trying like hell to dump their refineries and invest in alternative industries like wind and solar. At least they can see the handwriting on the wall. Emerging third world companies are the ones buying up the oil companies that are getting off. That means Hyperion is merely a middleman that will sell their company once they get their permit. So, let’s get it right and call a spade a spade.

Monday, April 18, 2011

If not me who?

<$BlogMetaData$>If not me who?

Here are many phrases I thought of for this week’s article and take your choice which fits best for you. If not me who? If not now when? – Whatever happened to Randolph Scott? – Start early and avoid the rush. - Have you lost your mind? – Have you taken leave of your senses? It’s easier said than done.

What I’m eluding to here is that if something isn’t done and done now about conserving our gas, we are merely giving impetus to both little and big oil companies to get behind Hyperion and build this oil refinery in Union County. Preston Phillips said 5 years ago when all this started that the refinery wouldn’t be profitable until oil reaches $70 per barrel. Then a year later he said $90 a barrel and then $100 a barrel. Well guess what folks? Last week oil hit $107 a barrel. And why is this? It is because we are so pampered that we are consuming gas at an alarming rate and not only is demand going up but the short sellers on the commodities market are driving it up. Supply is still the same. There is a glut on the market because of the 147 refineries in the United States, most of them are either shut down or are operating at 60-70% capacity. To have to face reality and blame myself for the refinery isn’t good. In fact, it makes me kind of queasy.

For what it’s worth, here is my take on this whole situation. If the gas were to come off the commodities market and go according to the laws of supply and demand, there would be plenty and I’m sure it would be considerably less than we are paying now. There was an interview with a Saudi Sheik on TV about a year ago and he said countries are completely stupid. The price of oil should be about $20 per barrel, (last week, it was $107) but because we are so greedy it is going where it is. He isn’t going to complain because he is getting richer off of it. It is costing the same to produce oil today as it was 50 years ago. The oil just comes gushing out of the ground and all we have to do is tap it. Well, you can imagine what happened to that interview. It was never shown or referred to again.

One of the dumbest things I hear on TV is for people to scream for not opening the oil reserves, thinking that if the reserves opened up the, the price would go down. W R O N G! Opening the reserves is just a drop in the bucket, and does nothing for both the short term and the long term situation. Evidently young people and us older folks as well, forget about gas rationing back in 1973-1974. Just let that happen again and watch people howl. And that was when gas was a whopping $.55 a gallon. The oil companies used to come into gas stations and top off their tanks and lock them and tell everyone ‘sorry, no gas today.’ When the price got to where the oil companies want it, suddenly there is plenty of gas for everyone. Nobody asked why the sudden change. 1973 is when OPEC was formed.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if the profit margin increases, the prices will drop. We cannot tax ourselves into prosperity either. Money that is going to taxes is money that is not being used for purchases. Do people realize that about $.50 per gallon or more is just tax going to the state and federal government? I don’t mean to sound like I’m preaching from the pulpit or anything, but I get so damned mad at the media for using such scare tactics. Pretty soon people will start believing this crap. We are our own worst enemy.

Sometimes I wish that I could go back in time to when life wasn’t so hectic. At least it wasn’t when I was 16. All I worried about then were girls. Anyway, family was the center of my life. My mother insisted that we do things together. It wasn’t a case of all the kids scattering to the winds, because we only had ONE car. That was sufficient, and we didn’t think about needing 2 cars. That was extravagance and that wasn’t right. Both boys and girls rode their bikes wherever we needed to go and never thought anything about going in a car.

We didn’t go to town on a whim “just” to shop or pick up one item. We waited until Saturday. Only then did we have an excuse to go somewhere. Sunday was definitely family time and we never gave a second thought to doing something on our own. Do you remember “Blue Laws?” Today that thought never comes into one’s mind. And I absolutely hate this word ‘bonding.’ That is almost as bad as ‘time out.’ “Just wait till your father gets home” was enough to scare the heck out of me.

Anyway, what is wrong with trying to conserve on gas. Trying to conserve isn’t the end of the world you know. If we were really serious and did that, the price of gas would drop in a heartbeat. There would be such a glut on the market, the oil companies would be screaming like a mashed cat. So called shortages and sky high prices would be a pipe dream and we would once again be less conscious of the high cost of living because it would actually be cheaper. Why be forced to do something when we don’t have to. I would rather do it on my own volition than have somebody hold a gun to my head and demand that I do it. It is a dirty word to “deny ourselves” and blame it on the other guy for our misgivings. IF NOT ME WHO? IF NOT NOW WHEN?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What price - Economic Development

<$BlogMetaData$>April 13th, 2011

What price – Economic Development?

Since 2006 there have been many people and families whose lives have been disrupted by the proposed economic development in Union County and the surrounding areas. What price have they had to pay for this coming development? Families and friends have become alienated by a difference of opinion. All in the name of progress. People are afraid to plan their future because of the possibility it can all be dashed by the decisions of those who have no connection with them whatsoever. And for what? Economic development in my mind is fast approaching an unspeakable term. It is a disgusting phrase and an even more disgusting idea. When one considers what this area of the world is like, economic development doesn’t fit. We have successful farmers who bring thousands of dollars to the local economy. We have couples who are raising families in a peaceful and loving atmosphere until economic development becomes the main topic of conversation. What price do people who are opposed to economic development have to pay to keep this from happening?

Hyperion was the tip of the iceberg, and I wrote an article back in early March about reaching the tipping point when other industries will be coming and lo and behold, there are rumors daily about a ‘kosher’ meatpacking plant coming to Union County. Now we are going to be having more people experiencing the economic development being felt in the townships immediately to their south. Where are our elected officials and the influential people in the county when it comes time to listen to their constituents?

Economic development is not always a good thing. My wife and I moved to this area to allow us to enjoy the peace and quietness and clean air that comes with it. We moved here with a special purpose in our lives; that to allow us to be in a community that was friendly and focused on building on that idea. We developed friendships where no matter where we went, we knew each other by first names and greeted each other with laughter and smiles on each other’s faces. A place where a handshake was your bond. It was a time in my life where I felt it was time for me to escape the hustle and bustle of big city living and we found that on our acreage. We felt closeness to nature and our God that had never been experienced before. Our lives became almost calm and serene. This sounds almost like the ideal way to live out one’s life. And now this is about to be destroyed b y “Economic Development.”

Who is giving these people the right to destroy this image? Who is giving these people the right to come in here and destroy communities, families and friends all in the name of economic development? Who are these people that are coming in here forcing me to make choices that I do not choose to make? Who are these people that are coming here to line their pockets with money and change the demographics of this community forever at our expense? Who are these people who are coming here thinking they know what is best for our lives? Would someone please explain to me why I am spending so much time and money to protect my little corner of the world all in the name of “Economic Development?”

What is the price that we must pay for” Economic Development?”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

this will not be a slam dunk

<$BlogMetaData$>April 5th, 2011

This will not be a slam dunk!

I don’t normally write about rumors, but this rumor has been confirmed many reliable sources, so I am going to spend a few minutes explaining what is going on that you may not know about , but I cannot imagine that you don’t.

A Real Estate agent from Rochester MN has secured an option on 280 acres of land five miles south of Beresford at the I-29 and Alcester exit to build a “Kosher” meat packing plant between the interstate and old Hwy 77. The fact that it is a kosher plant may raise a few eyebrows, but the rest of the facts should raise everyone’s eyebrows. If I’m wrong you can guarantee I will hear about it. That’s okay, but I don’t think I am. If I am, it will get the true facts out in the open for everyone to know.

Let me give you the facts as I know them, and you decide whether or not this is going to be beneficial to the community or whether we are in between a rock and a hard spot.

1. This will be a kosher meat packing plant run by a group of Muslims. Those two facts right there don’t make sense, but this is what it is.

2. They will be processing up to 7000 head of cattle per week.

3. The area they are going to purchase is 280 acres at the junction of I-29 and the Alcester exit.

4. One of the items that isn’t clear is that a mosque will be built to service the employees. Whether or not it will be built on site or in Beresford isn’t clear, but it will be built.

5. The plant will build a wind farm to provide its own electric service.

6. There will be 65 trucks in and out each week

7. They will build a 12 foot fence around the entire area to close it off. They have done a terrorist threat level check of this area and have determined this area is rural enough and far away from potential terrorist activity not to be a problem.

8. They may provide onsite facilities for living quarters for the employees and their families.

9. The land went for $8000.00 an acre for a total of almost $3 million dollars. (give or take)

The one thing about this deal that really blows my mind is that they held a meeting in Beresford last Wednesday and were selling the visitors to the meeting shares in the company. I don’t know why they would be doing this other than to ensure their acceptance into the area.

Now that I’ve given you all the facts, I’m going to put my spin on this and see how close it comes to what may or may not happen. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what is going to happen.

The initial offer was made to the Larsen’s and they turned the offer down. I am so thankful to them for doing this and everyone should also thank them. It would be tough to turn down an offer for $3 million, but they thought more of this community than their personal gain. They can always build it someplace else and for Larsen’s to turn this down is magnanimous on their part.

If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it many many times that this is ag country and farmers are not comfortable with refineries and now a meat packing plant right in the middle of everything. Granted there was Morrells in Sioux Falls and Sioux City and the Lamb slaughter in Hawarden, but this is Union County. I hate to use this term, but it is cropping up again; NIMBY!

Remember back when, when so many of us were called NIMBY’s because of the refinery. I wonder how many people in Beresford are going to wake up one of these mornings and decide we didn’t have such a bad idea after all. I can use the same reasoning for the packing plant as I can for Hyperion. We cannot afford this. I don’t know how many people will be moving to this area, but the school budget just cut back on teachers and funds for other activities and now the school may increase in population by 50 to 100 or more. The school just opted out not too long ago and the state and county economy can’t take much more before things start to cave in. If they have on site living facilities, the town won’t be stressed for housing, but if not the town will be inundated with people looking for places to live. One has to ask themselves how this will change the demographics in town.

Do you remember when Hyperion was coming to town and everybody was passing rumors? I have to ask myself why is the county being so secretive about transactions like this. Whoever this company is, they have to get approval from the planning and zoning to change from ag to commercial or industrial. They have to have a public hearing and we get a say in what happens. Of course to expect them to turn this company down is not going to happen. You know they have talked to Mr. Henze and I know for a fact they have talked to one of our commissioners, so why the secrecy? I can guarantee you the public hearing this time will not be like the one for Hyperion. They may come here, but this time they are going to answer questions before things get approved. It Sounds like I’m against this doesn’t it? Damned NIMBY’s. This will not be a slam dunk!