Monday, January 12, 2015

Human Life would be Impossible Without Accepting Dangers that ‘Could’ Happen

Pilgrim Pipeline holdings has proposed a new liquid petroleum pipeline across Northern New Jersey. Predictably, irrational opposition arose. One of the arguments against the pipeline was voiced in a New Jersey Star-Ledger letter published in September of 2014. In Specific objections to Pilgrim Pipeline, NJ resident Otto Picard wrote:

One specific reason [for stopping the pipeline] is that it will carry Bakken crude oil to Linden [NJ]. The crude is very corrosive and the pipeline could leak. Bakken is the most explosive of all crude oils.

Another is that refined products going to Albany will include gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene and aviation fuel. This pipeline will present a real danger to people living in densely populated communities.

I left these comments:

This letter makes no sense.

Gasoline is in every car on the road. Diesel fuel is in every truck. Aviation fuel, which contains kerosene, is in every plane that flies overhead—not to mention the oil and natural or propane gas that heats most homes and buildings. All of this, and more, depends on America’s 185,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines currently in use, any of which “could” leak. At home, on the road, in the air, at the mall, at work; we are literally engulfed in “explosive” petroleum fuels. Should this all be shut down? Imagine the devastation to our very lives!—if you can.

There is not a single thing that we humans can do that does not “present a real danger to people” on some level. If the mere possibility of danger is the standard, humans wouldn’t have harnessed fire—the first step out of the cave, and the beginning of the long journey up to our life-giving industrial civilization. Yet, to this day, fire still “present[s] a real danger to people.” By Otto Picard’s “logic,” that first step up from the cave should have been stopped.

Picard’s opening line states that “Pilgrim Pipeline’s spokesman says most people have no specific reason for opposing the pipeline.” They still don’t.

Actually, there is at least one valid concern that I know of about the pipeline. As Ben Horowitz reports for

"Pilgrim cannot gain access to private property for surveys and soil testing unless they can reach a private agreement with the property owner," advises attorney Aaron Kleinbaum of the Eastern Environmental Law Center.

"However," Kleinbaum cautioned, "that could change if a public agency like the New Jersey Board of Utilities determines that Pilgrim is a public utility," which would allow it to acquire property through eminent domain.

Eminent domain is rights-violating and immoral. But, surprisingly, that’s rarely cited as a reason to oppose approval of the pipeline.

Related reading:

Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet—Alex Epstein and Eric Dennis

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