National Geographic News recently posed a somewhat puzzling question: Is Canadian crude oil (also known as tar sands oil) worse than other types of crude? The question was posed in the wake of the disastrous and all-too-predictable ExxonMobil oil spill "across an Arkansas suburb" a week ago. National Geographic's question is puzzling because it really misses the point of what many Americans truly wish for: a move away from fossil fuel energy.
As I hinted at above, Exxon's pipeline rupture and subsequent massive oil spill hardly comes as a surprise for those of us in the land of reason. For instance, it's reasonable to assume that if the flow rate of a pipeline, say the existing Keystone pipeline, is 410 barrels a minute across a series of pipes hundreds or thousands of miles long, an accident is bound to happen, and that "accident" will dump over 6,000 gallons of crude IF TransCanada is accurate in their 15 minute-flow cut off time (a big IF!). If this flow cut off time is higher, say by 5 minutes, an extra 2,000 barrels of oil will be spilled, adding an even bigger insult to an already preventable injury.
The most hilarious part is ExxonMobil still finds a way to bitch about its lot in life. The corporation's website includes an issues page on "industry taxes," which threatens that energy innovation is already on the ropes because of excessive taxes, and it will be forever consigned to the dustbin by any new taxes on windfall profits (or, we'd assume, plans like President Obama's to close the offshore earnings loopholes that saved ExxonMobil from the IRS this year). "While our worldwide profits have grown, our worldwide income taxes have grown even more. From 2004 to 2008 our earnings grew by 79 percent, but our income taxes grew by 130 percent," ExxonMobil's flacks wrote, presumably while playing the world's smallest-and most expensive-violin.But I'm sure this should give us no reason to doubt Gov. Bob McDonnell's promises about how much state revenue will be delivered by handing over our coastlines to Big Oil for drilling ... um, right?