THE LUNCHTIME RACKET AT BRADY’S LANDING Visiting the Houston Ship Channel on a promotional “toxic tour” of sites where the air will likely be invigorated once nearby refineries get chugging on the Canadian tar sands headed for Houston through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Perry Dorrell stops by the scenic Brady’s Landing Restaurant during lunchtime: “During the evening the restaurant is like many others in the city: bustling with patrons and staff, the parking lot busy with diner traffic. During the day, however, the region’s oppressive noise is invasive and obnoxious; right next door a facility is dry-docking barges and a team of several men operating industrial-grade pressure washers removes barnacles from their hulls. Cranes swing containers to and from foreign freighters, crashing and booming. The warehouses directly across the channel are beehives of activity, with stevedores operating forklifts, shifting and stacking and slamming pallets of material. It was amazing how loud it was, a phenomenon I never noticed in my visits at night to dine. On the other side of the restaurant a steamshovel was loading and unloading a smoking, 200-hundred-foot high brown pile of … something, fertilizer-like in appearance. No accompanying aroma, fortunately. Maybe we were upwind.” [Brains and Eggs; previously on Swamplot]
That proposed underground pipeline linking Houston to the luscious bounty of Canadian strip-mined tar sands will sneak into Houston from the east, and won’t even make it inside Beltway 8, according to this map released by the State Department. The line is scheduled to carry up to 500,000 barrels a day of crude oil to Texas alone — probably more than 8 times as much oil as the successors to the Deepwater Horizon are currently delivering directly to the Gulf of Mexico.
TransCanada plans to stitch the pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water to part of Texas and much of the Midwest.
The pipeline also would cross more than 30 rivers and streams in Texas and could run underneath the Big Thicket National Preserve, said environmentalists and landowners.
Texas and Oklahoma portions of the 2,000-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline are still under review; this Friday is the deadline for public comment on the draft environmental impact statement released in April.
[TransCanada VP Robert Jones] defended the project, saying pipelines are the safest way to transport oil. The company will use pipe that has been employed safely in Canada for years and bury it 4 feet deep, he said.
Jones also downplayed concerns about Houston’s air quality, saying the Canadian crude is replacing oil from other sources and has not led to changes in the refineries’ pollution permits.
But [Matthew] Tejada, of Air Alliance Houston, found fault with TransCanada’s position. He said the tar-sands crude when refined will emit higher levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter into the air than conventional oil.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT LIES BENEATH “. . . roads go over top of petroleum pipelines all the time with an agreement & bond to protect them. Citie$, countie$ and large entitie$ do it all the time. The whole of the Woodlands Town Center, including the regional mall there, is built atop a pipeline, which runs alongside the foundation of the Anadarko Tower. Even Lake Robbins, though it’s not at all deep, is on top!” [movocelot, commenting on Comment of the Day: Where the Townhomes Ain’t]