RON SCHALOW: North Dakota Delegation’s Oil Pipe Dream

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office recently received a terse letter from Sen. John Hoeven, Sen. Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, the most powerful set of unrelated triplets in North Dakota. The crowd roars.

I don’t think Inslee honestly gives a rip, but he might admire their optimism.

The super important envelope is surely somewhere on the governor’s desk, likely underneath a green pile of the pot and arugula. He has a pipe, matches, a salad fork and some spicy goat cheese dressing, so Jay should come across it at some point.

What has the power trio in an oily snit?

Well, in an act of objective self-preservation, the Washington Legislature passed a bill that would require Bakken tanker car contents to have a vapor pressure reading of 9.0 or less before it gets unloaded in Washington, and powerful people don’t like that. That’s the gist.

Hoeven, Cramer, and Armstrong want Gov. Inslee to veto the bill for purely innocent reasons. Candidate Inslee will get some news for his presidential run when he gets sued by the Dakota Oil Lackeys of the North, but other states that have spent large sums to accommodate these explosive oil trains from North Dakota might encourage their lawyers to give their options a look.

It really shouldn’t be an issue since a study commissioned by the North Dakota Petroleum Council put the Bakken vapor pressure at 7.84, a number that couldn’t be achieved unless the crude was properly stabilized. But that study was just for show.

As was the 13.7 vapor pressure requirement set by The North Dakota Industrial Commission. Why do other states tolerate this useless random number?

Because the oil barons of the Bakken decided years ago not to buy the bona fide stabilization equipment to strip the valuable explosive gases from the Bakken crude oil or build the infrastructure needed to store and transport the propane (208 vapor pressure), butane (52), ethane (700), methane and other gases.

So the Bakken oil/gas trains get sent out, as is like a $75 used Dodge Dart. Maybe nothing bad will happen. To do otherwise would be politically correct.

That’s a problem for Harold Hamm if billionaires have problems. A money problem and when HH gets steamed, HAC starts barking like a ringtone.

So the threesome claims that no science stands behind the 9.0 standard and the lawmakers in Washington state have an “unscientific understanding,” a remark that will help HAC’s “thoughts and prayers” numbers in the “unscientific understanding” demographic of their base, while calling the Washingtonians stupid. Bold move. Very Trumpian.

“They” have been using the “no science” deflection for years, since the admission of the problem would be expensive.

And as Donald Trump supporters, I don’t think HAC have cornered the market on the understanding of truth, let alone science. Most of HAC team have chosen the optional belief package.

Quite a bit of science is there for the picking, actually, which “they” choose to optionally ignore.

Less propane (208 vapor pressure) and other gases, less boom. I think everyone should be able to agree with that. Three hundred foot fireballs either are or aren’t.

Scientists have pretty much cracked the code on gases, liquids and solids. A lot of it boils down to numbers: 208.00 is greater than 7.84 by a mile and in this context, way more likely to explode. I don’t make the rules of chemistry or physics.

And witnesses. There are a ton of folks who can agree on what they’ve seen. The element of observation is a large part of science. Like when one of our ancient kin saw a friend get mowed down by a big round rock with two flat sides that looked a lot like a steamroller, rolling down the mountainside and thought,

“Gosh, I hope Larry’s injuries aren’t a pre-existing condition.” It’s been a long road for that issue because of silly misunderstandings eons ago.

Dynamics of the wheel were ciphered later that week after further tests. Michelin-shaped rocks rolled downhill every time and even uphill if persuaded.

You see, all of the explosive gases that are liquidly intertwined in raw Bakken atypical crude would need to be separated from the oil BEFORE it is shipped to get to the 7.84, as is the custom for high octane shale fields, if you want people NOT to see towers of fire. It’s pretty simple.

But the oil producers didn’t want to do that. “We didn’t feel like doing the right thing, so it doesn’t count.”

That sounds like a personal problem.

Since the first bubbly test tube proved what was coming out of the hole in the ground, “they” (HAC included) all knew the tankers would explode if they were breached in a derailment. And they did.

You could push your thumb through the side of a DOT-111 tanker car that came first and the NDPC said they were safe.

“They” said the same thing about the new safer tanker car that followed. That wasn’t true, either.

The tanker cars aren’t the issue. If they were, Bakken crude/gases would be shipped in double-hulled pressurized tanker cars. But that would cost a fortune. Letters would be flying then, boy.

It’s been about 10 trains worth in 10 years. I lost count of how many actual tankers detonated. But the death toll is a certain 47.

Those deaths were solved with money.

And now a government entity has called “them” on their indifference to the death, property destruction and spillage.

North Dakota’s own estimates of deaths match those of an act of God, which is OK with our legislators and regulators. But our problem had a solution, which was cast aside from the beginning, while “act of God” events are scheduled well in advance and aren’t subject to cancellation as everyone knows.

Wait until the federal government becomes less of a gamble with people’s lives and sets a nationwide 9.0 vapor limit standard, or lower for fracked crude. 8.0?

Then, the sheiks of McKenzie County will really be screwed, all because the big shots decided to take liberties from the outset, but who would set limits on professional oilmen in this state?

At least the Washington Legislature cares if its citizens get incinerated.

They should put that on their brochures.

One thought on “RON SCHALOW: North Dakota Delegation’s Oil Pipe Dream”

  • susan gorr May 20, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Definitely not serving the people.Sad state of “leadership”in North Dakota.


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