George Graham

Pipeline Protesters are Abusing Simple Logic

I was flabbergasted to read this morning that Al Gore believes oil from Canada’s tar sands is “the dirtiest fuel on the planet.” Why is he making such a preposterous charge?

What could be dirtier than the sulfur-laden coal Americans have been burning for centuries?

Click here for details.

Remember this 2008 disaster?

And what could be more dangerous than offshore oil exploration (photo above)?

Check this out.

The oil extracted from Canada’s Athabasca tar sands is undoubtedly heavy – very heavy – but that’s why they have refineries: to refine the stuff. Refining it is undoubtedly expensive – so expensive that only about 10 percent of the vast Alberta deposit can be processed at competitive costs. But modern technology has made exploitation of the deposits feasible, and that could be the salvation of the American economy.

Gore is fighting construction of a pipeline that would bring Alberta oil to Texas refineries because, he says:

Gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil.

Does that make sense to you? I am not a chemical engineer, but I cannot believe that once the oil from Alberta is refined into gasoline it is much different from the gasoline they make from Iraq’s coveted “light sweet crude.”  If it is, the fault lies in the refining process, not in the source of the gasoline.

Click here and here to get the facts.

But no abuse of logic seems to be beyond the reach of the pipeline’s opponents.

All the old warhorses  have lined up to fight this pipeline. Even Ralph Nader has emerged from the shadows to re-emphasize his “green” credentials. Scores of presumably well meaning protesters are getting jailed for civil disobedience in Washington.

But this is one time I part company with the people who claim to be protecting the environment.

Simple logic tells me they’re daft.

Granted a 1,700-mile pipeline is no work of art. In fact, it’s downright ugly. And those Alberta mining sites are grotesque. But oil has never been – and never will be – a pretty business.

Obviously, it would be better – much, much better – to get our fuel from alternative sources. Let’s develop those wind- and solar-powered cars as quickly as we can. But, in the meantime, fossil fuels are what we must use (remember that to run electric cars, somebody somewhere is burning a fossil fuel).

Like it or not, America runs on oil. We can get it from the Middle East or South America, or we can get it from the North American continent.

Why do Al Gore and the rest of the environmentalist brigade want America to buy its oil overseas? Why are they trying to block importation of Canadian oil? Are they saying America should remain dependent on oil imported from such areas as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela?

Do they not realize the implications for America’s national defense?

It doesn’t make sense.

In permitting the pipeline, the Obama Administration would choose – by far – the lesser of two evils.

This has to be one of the most closely monitored projects in environmental history. On both sides of the border, government and private agencies are checking every environmental possibility, and an array of safeguards are being built in.

Click here for background information.

The U.S. State Department reported  that the project – which would pipe more than 700,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude to Texas refineries – would not increase greenhouse gas emissions. And the department downplayed the risk of a pipeline accident damaging American farmland.

In sum, the study found that the proposed $7 billion pipeline would have little adverse impact on the environment.

Most published reports predict the project will create 120,000 jobs — 20,000 in actual pipeline construction and 100,000 indirectly in supplies and services.

It would be hard for President Obama to reject that kind of job creation in today’s economy.

Interestingly, China has no qualms about buying the Canadian crude. The Chinese even bought a stake in a proposed pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver that would give them access to those “dirty” tar sands.

Oil you don’t want? Give it to us then, China is saying.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for