Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flood Protection & Gas Prices

1) If we ever needed another tragic reminder—since Katrina—of what happens when river cities do not have the gold standard of flood protection, the 500 year level, this article and photo from the Wall Street Journal should spur us into action demanding our own 500 year level of protection.

Here is an excerpt:

“If you've ever seen a postcard of Cedar Rapids, it was likely of City Hall and Linn County Courthouse. Their Roman and Greek architecture make them distinctive. And their location, on Mays Island in the center of the Cedar River, give the city something in common with Paris, France and Osaka, Japan – municipal buildings placed midstream in a river that both breathes life and can carry destruction.

“We knew for several days that the Cedar was going to flood. We worked hard day and night, and many people bused in from points across the city, filling sandbags and building levees with one thought in mind: that doing so would make recovery all the more possible.

“Last week, the Cedar washed into City Hall and covered the rest of Mays Island. It rose to flood the county jail, the police station and downtown businesses, the lifeblood of the community. The river crested at over 31 feet on Saturday, 15 feet above flood stage.”

2) With all the worry over the rising price of gasoline, here is a White House Fact Sheet accompanying the President’s recent call to Congress to act. There is more than enough oil available in our country but access to it, and the refinery capacity to bring it to market, have been restricted by environmental concerns—with some validity—for decades.

It now appears that most of those objections have been addressed and the current oil extraction and refinery technology does appear environmentally safe, relative to the need we have for oil.

Here is one very revealing excerpt from the Fact Sheet:

“2. Tap into the extraordinary potential of oil shale. Oil shale is a type of rock that can produce oil when exposed to heat or other processes. In one major deposit – the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming – there lies the equivalent of about 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. If it can be fully recovered, it would equal more than a century's worth of currently projected oil imports.

• “Oil shale is a highly promising resource. For many years, the high cost of extracting oil from shale exceeded the benefit, but today, companies are investing in technology to make oil shale production more affordable and efficient. While the cost of extracting oil from shale is still more than the cost of traditional production, it is also less than the current market price of oil.

• “Democrats in Congress are standing in the way of further development. Last year, Democratic leaders used the omnibus spending bill to insert a provision blocking oil shale leasing on Federal lands – President Bush calls on Congress to remove that provision immediately.”