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Friday, February 28, 2014

Naval Presence That Drones Can't Match: "Russian navy vessel at Crimea's Port of Balaklava"

Okay, for those who have spouted the "drones for presence" line of hooey, tell me how a drone could match this naval presence, as reported by the BBC "Russian navy vessel at Crimea's Port of Balaklava".


For those of you who have forgotten, Crimea is part of the county of Ukraine, not Russia.
Tarantul-III class corvette of the type off Balaklava


UPDATE: More context from a 1993 map:


Friday Fun Film: "Introduction to Rotary Wing Flight" 1952

Rotor heads of the world unite.
The first helicopter naval rescue. On February 9, 1947, Dimitry D. (Jimmy) Viner, Sikorsky chief test pilot, piloted a S-51 helicopter to rescue Lt. Robert A. Shields when he ditched his SB2C "Helldiver" because of engine failure. Painting by Joseph Keogan (Released)

Fight that torque reaction.

From 1952, whirlybirds:


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Lost in the Woods

Not a good idea to be out in this weather
Do people get lost in the woods anymore? I mean with cell phones, GPS and all, is it possible to wander off from a known location and then get lost?

Apparently, the answer is "yes":
A 67-year-old Yarmouthport man trying to walk to a rental car location at Barnstable Municipal Airport this afternoon had to be talked out of the woods along Yarmouth Road and Willow Street by police officers after becoming lost for more than two hours.

Barnstable police Sgt. Sean Sweeney said Officers Katie Parache and Michael Puntonio were able to track the man’s location via a GPS locator in his cellphone, which he used to call police after unsuccessfully trying to find his way out of the woods. Even with the tracking available, it took the officers more than 45 minutes to guide the man to a location where he could be met by police.
More Times Breaking News

“He got into the woods pretty far,” Sweeney said. “He got really lost in there.”
and "yes":
A father and son from Minnesota were rescued Monday after spending a night lost in the Upper Peninsula's woods.
***
The men suffered from symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia but were otherwise in good condition after enduring blizzard conditions and wind chills of 25 degrees below zero, police said.

The two sent text messages saying they'd become stuck in the woods about 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Without any survival gear or other communication devices (?!), the men last sent a message at 8:30 p.m. saying they were trying to walk out of the wooded area.
So, even with modern technology, you can manage to get lost in the woods, even relatively close to civilization (even right by an airport).



Emergency Tube Tent
Here are some simple ideas:

  1. Have a plan and let people know your plan. "We going out to the Au Sable River near Oscoda" might be good enough, but even better is "We're going to be within 5 miles of the Hwy 47 bridge on the Whichway River" would be better.
  2.  Have a GPS equipped device. When it fails, have a compass and a map and learn how to use them.
  3.  Carry water, food, shelter stuff (even a plastic tube shelter is a good idea) if it's a wilderness jaunt. If you at the Barnstable Airport, you might call a cab and avoid the hike. Have a rescue whistle. (For about $5 a rescue whistle is a great thing to carry all the time - and a great thing if you are taking kids into the woods. They should all have one.) Don't be like those guys in Minnesota.
  4.  Most importantly, DON'T PANIC! Panic kills. Sit down and try to think your way out of your problem.
  5. Stay put. Let the rescue come to you. It only complicates matters if you start walking away from your rescuers.
  6.  If you are with friends, stick together. Nothing good happens if you split up. See any horror movie for details.
  7. Keep warm. If you can, build a fire. Stay off the bare ground.
  8. Build a nest - but a visible nest. Don't hide from rescuers by getting into caves or getting under overhangs.
  9. Try to be visible or make visible signs of where you are. If there is a clearing nearby, build an arrow to point to where you are.
  10. Rescue Whistle
  11. Don't eat and drink stuff you aren't sure is safe.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Freezing Yankees in the Dark: "Natural gas bills are going up, and not just because it's cold" .... Well, sorta.

Had to laugh at this report from American Public Radio's Marketplace which I heard on the way home tonight:  Natural gas bills are going up, and not just because it's cold
The reason for that crazy 2,000 percent jump is that even though there is lots of natural gas, there isn't the infrastructure to move it quickly enough when demand spikes.

"Because the pipeline capacity to get it into the Northeast isn't that large," Borenstein says. "Likewise, that can happen in the Midwest."

But even with improved pipeline capacity, natural gas prices are still susceptible to price spikes.

"The reality is natural gas is expensive to store," says Michael Levi, a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations. And when large quantities of fuel can't be stored, it's difficult to smooth out prices over a long period of time.

You can listen to the report here.

Hidden in that "not just because it's cold" part of the headline is the the reason that there has been a demand spike. Which is: Demand spiked because it's cold. Duh.

And then, when demand spikes, the Northeast lacks pipeline capacity and storage capacity to handle the increased demand. Why? Because while "there is lots of natural gas" - it is not, apparently, in Yankeeland.

It also seems to lack alternatives since the use of coal has had the kibosh put on it. The switch from coal has cause industry to switch to natural gas (or in the case of some industries like gun manufacturers to move south*). That switch also increases local demand for a good that needs to be imported through an limited supply pipe. From place like Texas, Oklahoma, and other fly-over country.

Lacking alternatives . . . well, you can freeze or pay.

It seems to me that logically you could write a similar story about how there is a spike in the price for water in Arizona and it's not just because it's hot there but because there's no infrastructure to move water from the Great Lakes where there is lots of water to the desert. Trust me, if the price gets high enough, there will be pipelines for water built.

On the other hand, I guess up North they don't need to have expensive air conditioning in the spring and summer like we in the South and Southwest do, so they've got that going for them.

Come to think of it, though, I don't remember ever hearing or reading an article about how "air conditioning bills are going up, and not just because it's hot" written about the South. If you find one, let me know . . .

May I suggest to our Northern friends more nuclear power plants for electric heat?

Or perhaps using those expensive LNG terminals? Make it worth LNG shipper's efforts to ship in gas by letting those prices rise.




*And, yes, those moves occur for other reasons, too.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Welcome a New Navy Blogger

A new Navy blog as arrived at "I don't know; ask the skipper." or, in its more complete form:
"I don't know; ask the skipper.
A home for open discussions about the sea services. Mostly."


Always happy to welcome a new sea service blog - please give it a visit.

And, if you like it, spread the word.


Monday Bonus Movie: Cheap Weapons of War "Japanese Fire Balloons (1945)"

You don't need big money to create weapons. Not very effective, but . . . if you hit the right target, very cost effective.




Cheaper than bombers and aircraft carriers. Couldn't do much aiming, though - just send it east was the plan.

You laugh - except 6 people died when hit with one of these things. Of course, auto accidents probably killed more people that same day.

More here. And here.

Makes you wonder, though, what if these things had carried some biological agent?  

Friday, February 21, 2014

On Midrats 23 Feb 14, Episode 216: "Maritime Strategy and Control of the Seas with Seth Cropsey"

Join us live on 23 Feb at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) for our Episode 216: Maritime Strategy and Control of the Seas with Seth Cropsey:
What direction do we need to go for our next maritime strategy? Using the recent article, Control of the Seas, as our starting point, our guest for the full hour will be Seth Cropsey, Senior Fellow and director of Hudson Institute's Center for American Seapower.

He served in government at the Defense Department as Assistant to the SECDEF Caspar Weinberger and then as Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and Bush administrations, where he was responsible for the Navy’s position on efforts to reorganize DoD, development of the maritime strategy, the Navy’s academic institutions, naval special operations, and burden-sharing with NATO allies. In the Bush administration, Cropsey moved to OSD to become acting assistant secretary, and then principal deputy assistant SECDEF for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.
U.S. Navy photo by OSSN Andrew L. Clark

During the period that preceded the collapse of the USSR—from 1982 to 1984—Cropsey directed the editorial policy of the Voice of America on the Solidarity movement in Poland, Soviet treatment of dissidents, and other issues. Returning to public diplomacy in 2002 as director of the US government’s International Broadcasting Bureau, Cropsey supervised the agency as successful efforts were undertaken to increase radio and television broadcasting to the Muslim world.

Cropsey’s work in the private sector includes reporting for Fortune magazine and as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and as director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asia Studies Center from 1991-94.

His articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, Foreign Affairs, Commentary magazine, RealClear World, and others.
Join us live or pick up the show later by clicking here.

Friday Fun FIlm: "Readiness and Care of Vessels in Inactive Status (1945)"

How to keep a Navy in reserve, "Readiness and Care of Vessels in Inactive Status (1945)"




Dehumidifiers and cathodic protection systems help.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Weather School

From the National Weather Service, a chance to learn about weather, for free on the internet at your own pace: JetStream - An Online School for Weather.

Not intended to make you a professional weather guesser, but:
This site is designed to help educators, emergency managers, or anyone interested in learning about weather and weather safety.

Like chicken soup in the treatment of a cold, "it can't hurt."


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

About "Sea Blindness"

Butch Bracknell and James Kraska wrote in Ending America's 'Sea Blindness':
U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Class Karl Anderson
The United States suffers from a kind of "sea blindness" — an inability to appreciate the central role the oceans and naval power have played in securing our strategic security and economic prosperity. One symptom of this bipartisan malady has been that the country is failing to take an active role in shaping the world order of the oceans to promote our national interest.

This sea blindness is manifest in a number of policy choices, including the Pentagon's fiscal struggle to fund a powerful naval fleet and a national oceans policy that has virtually ignored the importance of sea power. ***
The U.S. is not alone in suffering from this odd sort of failure to see the obvious - Britain has been accused of suffering the same infliction. "Ministers accused of 'sea blindness' by Britain's most senior Royal Navy figure":
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Jonathon Band, First Sea Lord, says there is a pressing need to hold a debate on Britain’s defence priorities. He discloses that he has even had to remind ministers - keen to set more missions for the Royal Navy while simultaneously culling the fleet - a ship can’t be in two places at once. The admiral, stepping down after three and a half years, even warns that Britain is “losing the ability to think strategically”.

“I think government could continue to learn,” says Band, known in senior defence circles as “T1SL”. “Until recently there’s been sea blindness. Is it because people get into politics for domestic rather than international reasons? There are a whole bunch of issues, some of it is background.”

And he warns politicians who see defence as ripe for cuts: “You don’t need to be an economist to realise major countries face a challenging outlook, but just because things are tough, don’t stop insuring your house. We have to have a strategic debate. Looking round the world, I don’t see it calming down; I don’t see any argument for Britain doing less.”
One would think that Britain, an island nation, would be keenly aware of the value of the maritime domain. But, as noted here:
The reality is that people have short memories – while they remain keen of the concept of the Royal Navy as an institution, and there is a keen sense of national pride in the values, history and tradition of what it represents, there does not seem to be a groundswell of popular support to pay to maintain a large standing navy.
***
More broadly, this author would argue that ‘Sea Blindness’ when it comes to understanding the maritime domain is not a new condition – people have historically not understood the dependency that humanity has on the sea. In reality, although the UK is an island, very few people relatively speaking actively involve themselves in maritime matters. Outside of the small fishing / trading community, or those who work in the maritime support sector, it is probably fair to argue that most people simply don’t have the professional links to see the sea for what it is – an essential gateway to prosperity and survival.
While the U.S. is not quite an island nation, it is a nation deeply dependent on the seas and the free flow of commerce across them.

Our neighbors to the north have also raised the "sea blindness" flag (or perhaps the "maritime blindness" flag), set out in this Canadian Naval Review editorial (pdf):
It seems that the primary symptom of sea blindness is political and public apathy to the economic importance of the oceans. A secondary factor is the lack of consensus on the size and type of naval forces needed to maintain order at sea and how it should be done. Ironically, environmental threats to the oceans are widely viewed with concern while the economic argument seems far less important.
The Canadians raise the issue of whether "sea blindness" is a matter of indifference or of ignorance - both of which require those in favor of a strong navy to engage their fellow citizens in explaining the value of naval forces. Then the same editorial contains a challenge to the naval proponents:
Assuming that it is the navy’s role to educate, perhaps there is a requirement to return to the question Professor Samuel P. Huntington raised in the 1950s, when he asked of the US Navy “[w]hat function do you perform which obligates society to assume responsibility for your maintenance?”
You can read Professor Huntington words at the U.S. Naval Institute blog post, From Our Archive: NATIONAL POLICY AND THE TRANSOCEANIC NAVY by Samuel P. Huntington. Of interest is this opening salvo:
The fundamental element of a military service is its purpose or role in implementing national policy. The statement of this role may be called the strategic concept of the service. Basically, this concept is a description of how, when, and where the military service expects to protect the nation against some threat to its security. If a military service does not possess such a concept, it becomes purpose-less, it wallows about amid a variety of conflicting and confusing goals, and ultimately it suffers both physical and moral degeneration.
It appears that, as cuts loom, there are those who understand the purpose of the fleet and warn about the future that budget choices push - Acting Deputy Secretary Fox's remarks at the 2014 USNI/AFCEA WEST Conference, San Diego, California are to the point - first she points out that the U.S. is a "maritime nation" and then discusses future trends:
With defense dollars, investment dollars in particular, growing scarcer, it is all the more of an imperative for defense leaders to make strategically sound choices when it comes to the military's modernization priorities. The U.S. Navy is unique amongst the military services in never having been seriously challenged in direct at-sea combat since the end of the Second World War. The U.S. enjoys a margin of military superiority today in the Pacific, but we cannot ignore the reality that American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and even in space can no longer be taken for granted going forward.

As we confront the implications of this new reality, I'd like to share two major points. First, as the military transitions from a decade of fighting insurgents and terrorists, we don't have the luxury going forward of assuming a permissive environment for U.S. naval air or sea assets, whether for fighters, close air support, UAVs, amphibious landings, or surface combatants.

With respect to the Navy, as I alluded to a moment ago, the threats to surface combatants continue to grow, not just from advanced military powers, but from the proliferation of more advanced, precise anti-ship munitions around the globe. Clearly, this puts a premium on undersea capabilities, submarines, that can deploy and strike with relative freedom of movement.

For aerial platforms, we need the ability to strike from over the horizon from secure locations, whether that capability comes from missiles, bombers, tactical aircraft, manned or unmanned.

But with limited resources and global responsibilities, we simply can't afford to build a Navy tailored for one region or one kind of fight. We need a flexible portfolio of capabilities that can operate along the full spectrum of conflict and military operations.

Nonetheless, given more advanced anti-ship munitions being developed by potential adversaries, I believe it is an imperative to devote increasing focus and resources to the survivability of our battle fleet. Niche platforms that can conduct a certain mission in a permissive environment have a valuable place in the Navy's inventory, yet we need more ships with the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary. Presence is important, presence with a purpose and with capability.

Second, when defense budgets decline, there is a natural tendency to hang on to combat forces at the expense of enablers, yet we all know that enablers can be decisive force-multipliers. With the U.S. Navy able to outgun any and all comers, potential adversaries will look to take away our inherent military advantages, to include the use of electronic warfare and other countermeasures. Capabilities that can overcome these threats represent critical enablers that we neglect at our peril.

In many respects, the U.S. Navy has been so dominant for so long at sea that I worry we never really embraced these solutions at all. The time to start investing in the next generation of electronic warfare is now.

However, the resources will be only available to buy these and other modern capabilities our military needs on land, sea and in the air if we start reshaping and rebalancing all of America's defense institutions, and soon. Let me provide some context.
***
All of these factors -- the strategic environment, the fiscal environment, the political environment, and bureaucratic realities of the defense enterprise point to the conclusion that the military must get smaller over the next five years.

It is not an ideal course of action. It contains real risks. A smaller force, no matter how ready or technologically advanced, can go fewer places and do fewer things. But given current realities, it is the only plausible way to generate the savings necessary to adequately fund training, readiness, modernization, and avoid the prospect of a hollow force in the future. It also puts the department in the best position to accomplish the highest priority military missions associated with the current defense strategy.
The U.S. Navy has a mission: Protect the United States of America.

That mission has subsets: Maintain freedom of the seas. Assist our friends and allies as they assist us. Choose assets wisely. Remind those in high places that a single ship cannot be in two places at once.

How to prevent sea blindness? Tell the story of the importance of freedom of the seas to our nation. You can leave out the "Global Force for Good" stuff.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Admiral Raymond Spruance said it

As quoted in The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance:

I can see plenty of changes in weapons, methods, and procedures in naval warfare brought about technical developments, but I can see no change in the future role of our Navy from what it has been for ages past for the Navy of a dominant sea power - to gain and exercise the control of the sea that its country requires to win the war, and to prevent its opponent from using the sea for its purposes. This will continue so long as geography makes the United States an insular power and so long as the surface of the sea remains the great highway connecting the nations of the world.
Help prevent sea blindness, quote a naval thinker to a friend and suggest they do the same.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

On Midrats 16 Feb 14: Talking About USNI's "West 2014 Conference" and more

So, the U.S. Naval Institute holds a conference in San Diego just before the weekend and there's so much interesting stuff that came up that CDR Salamander and I decided to hash it over on Midrats Episode 215 live at 5pm Eastern U.S.

Just click here to get to the live show (you may have to click again on a show page, but what are two clicks among friends?). Call in during the show with comments or thoughts or join us in the chat room if you think your voice is not yet ready for radio.

I think Cyber, Russia, Christine Fox's comments, Coalition Warfare, budget constraints, the JSF, retention of our best talent, and the future of warfare will come up at some point. Plus more.

Join us live or listen later.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Postponed Due to Bad Weather

Yesterday's Disaster Prep Wednesday was overcome by a snow/freezing rain event.

We're about to get hit by Phase 2.

Yes, I know, wherever you live or have lived that gets snow all the time you would have handled it better.

But we don't live there and make do with what we have on hand.

Which is sometimes very interesting.

UPDATE: See here. Now, nothing but blue skies and slush.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

China finds a large natural gas reservoir in Sichuan Province

In what is good news both for the Chinese and the rest of the world's energy users, the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation has declared a major natural gas reservoir find:
A major breakthrough was made by CNPC in natural gas exploration in the Sichuan Basin. As certified by the Ministry of Land and Resources, the newly added proven gas in place in the Longwangmiao formation of Cambrian system in the Moxi block of Anyue gas field is 440.385 billion cubic meters, with technically recoverable reserves hitting 308.2 billion cubic meters.

This is the largest monomer marine uncompartmentalized carbonate gas reservoir discovered in China up to now, featured by large reserve scale, broad gas-bearing areas, high formation pressure, high gas flow, and superior gas components. The production test has obtained average per well daily output of 1.1 million cubic meters, and the wells in production yield at 0.6 million cubic meters per day averagely.

The Anyue gas field is located at the paleo uplift of central Sichuan. Since 2011, CNPC has drilled two exploration wells — Gaoshi-1 and Moxi-8, both obtaining high-yield gas flows of one million cubic meters per day from the Simian system and Cambrian system respectively.

It only took CNPC less than two years to find the Longwangmiao gas reservoir, identify its reserves, and make a successful production test with 1 billion cubic meters capacity. The phase-I capacity building project of 4 billion cubic meters is now on full swing, and the phase-II capacity building project of 6 billion cubic meters has already been kicked off. At present, gas production test at Moxi block has cumulatively yielded more than 600 million cubic meters.
That ought to last them a couple of years or so.

Internal Chinese development of its natural resources ought to ease some of their concerns over their sea lines of communication being threatened.

There is much to be said about near energy independence as a calming factor in international relations.

A Little Joke

In one of my volunteer jobs the ability to e-mail plays a key role, just as it does in most everything else in our lives.

Today one of the other volunteers was concerned that her e-mails were taking forever to send. I naturally responded, "Probably the electrons are holding a work slowdown in hopes of being able to charge more."

Groans ensued.

You may now return to your normal lives.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Oh my gosh! Iran's Navy to threaten to sail into the Atlantic Ocean

The ever awesome Iranian navy is venturing forth to touch the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, thus striking dread and fear in the hearts and minds of  . . . well, exactly who is impressed? Story here.
Must be intended for the naive and clueless, because a force like that described is mostly a threat to international navigation.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Gulf of Guinea Pirates: Flag State Liberia says ‘Kerala’ hijacked

For a couple of weeks, the saga of the gas oil tanker Kerala has been drifting along. From the early reports hijacking, there have been allegations by the Angolan Navy that the hijacking was faked by the crew.
of a

Now, Tanker Operator has a follow-on report, "Tanker Operator Liberia says ‘Kerala’ hijacked":
Liberia has entered into the controversy surrounding the alleged hijacking of Dynacom’s LR1 ‘Kerala’ off Angola on 18th January, 2014.

The flag state said that although the investigation is still ongoing, the evidence gathered thus far by an INTERPOL-led incident response team has allowed the Liberian Registry to conclude that the vessel was hijacked by pirates.
***
During the incident, the registry said that the pirates disabled the vessel’s AIS and other communication equipment so that the vessel could not be tracked from shore or satellite. The pirates also painted over the identifying features of the vessel, including funnel, name and IMO number and undertook three separate ship-to-ship transfers unloading about 12,271.5 tonnes of oil in total.
***
On arrival at Tema, all crew members received immediate medical treatment. During the hijacking, one crew member was stabbed by the pirates and others were beaten.
Liberia, of course, is not the "operator" of the vessel but rather the nation which provides the flag of convenience for ships. The operator of the vessel is Dynacom, which asserts it was a hijacking all along. Angola might just have an interest in claiming that its waters are safe which might have clouded their initial reaction.

A noted in prior post, this will be an interesting legal mess to sort out. There are lots of players:
Liberia will continue working with the authorities in Ghana, Nigeria and Angola and elsewhere in the region in order to bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime, the registry stressed.
Good luck with that.

You might note that shutting off the AIS and the painting indicates a modicum of sophistication in the purported hijackers. Three offloads? Wow.

Friday Fun FIlm: USS Nautilus Under the North Pole

Was there anything those new nuclear submarines couldn't do?

From PeriscopeFilm, USS Nautilus: Operation Sunshine:

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Forest and Tree Confusion

Phil Carter is bright guy. He just got the important part of the story of a town honoring a soldier returning from a war zone very, very wrong in "Bad Bud":
The ad ignores the complicated relationship that veterans have with alcohol, obscuring how much harm booze does to veterans when they come home.
You know, I worked in the military drug and alcohol counseling system and it seemed to me that there were some small percentage of people - civilians, college students, sailors, Marines and the like, who could not handle alcohol. On the other hand, there was a very large number who had (and have) no difficulty with it. To paint all veterans and, by extension, all military personnel with such a broad brush of a "complicated relationship" is simply wrong.

It was just a very nice way to say "thanks," and far better than another ad with a puppy and a horse.

Here, judge for yourself:



Update: I meant to add that there are so many things we are concerned about that we are beginning to not be able to move at all.

For example, suppose this ad had been sponsored by a doughnut company. Would the complaint then be that so many veterans are overweight that they have a "complicated relationship" with food? Can only tofu makers and Pilates studios welcome back our troops?

I hope not.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: "Managing Worker Fatigue During Disaster Operations"

During disaster recovery operations (and possibly during the period leading up to a disaster - the period while watching a hurricane track in, for example) there is a tendency for disaster workers to spend too much time on the job. Caught up the events, too many workers and leaders fail to take care of themselves in terms of rest and sleep.

A "technical assistance document" from the Center for Disease Control addresses this problem: Guidance for Managing Worker Fatigue During Disaster Operations (pdf):

NRT Fatigue for Emergency Workers



If you want the shorter version, here's a Navy video that makes the point - at some point, overly tired workers might as well be drunk:



It is also vital that those victims affected by the storms and other disasters be given quiet places to rest as part of their disaster recovery. The importance of quiet shelters, the availability of food, water, showers and friendly faces cannot be overstated.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Energy News: "No major environmental impact from Keystone XL, DOS says"

Well, if we really, really want to work to free ourselves from the many problems of the Persian/Arabian Gulf and a long sea line of communication carrying crude oil through often troubled waters, then this ought to be good news: "No major environmental impact from Keystone XL, DOS says", as set out in the Oil and Gas Journal,
“This final review puts to rest any credible concerns about the pipeline’s potential negative impact on the environment,” American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said. “This long-awaited project should now be swiftly approved. It’s time to put thousands of Americans to work.”

“The State Department has once again found nothing in its environmental analysis that would prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from moving forward,” US Chamber of Commerce Pres. Thomas J. Donohue declared. “It’s time for the administration to stop playing politics with a project that will create good-paying American jobs, improve our energy security, and strengthen relations with our closest ally, Canada.”

Obama vowed to approve Keystone XL if it was proven to be environmentally safe, according to American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers Pres. Charles T. Drevna. “Today’s release of the pipeline’s supplemental EIS provides the irrefutable evidence sought by the president, and he should waste no further time in delivering on his promise,” he said.
Of course, there are the nay-sayers:
Environmental organizations and other opponents immediately dismissed the supplemental EIS’s findings as corrupted by oil industry influence and seriously flawed.

“[DOS’s] environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline is a farce,” declared Friends of the Earth Pres. Erich Pica. “Since the beginning of the assessment, the oil industry has had a direct pipeline into the agency. Perhaps most frustrating is the apparent collusion between [DOS], the oil industry, and the Canadian government.”

“Even though [DOS] continues to downplay clear evidence that the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to tar sands expansion and significantly worsen carbon pollution, it has, for the first time, acknowledged that the proposed project could accelerate climate change,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, international program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “President Obama now has all the information he needs to reject the pipeline. This is absolutely not in our national interest.”

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, meanwhile, said, “The president has two choices before him: fighting climate disruption, or promoting an energy policy that includes the expansion of dirty fossil fuels like tar sands. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline fails the basic climate test, and it’s not in the interest of the American people. The president should reject the tar sands pipeline once and for all.”
So, months of study and delays which, once again, find "no major environmental impact" are a "farce" because they don't coincide with the agendas of FOE and the Sierra Club.

Noteworthy, too, is that no adverse decision to their positions can be simply characterized as "in error" but always must be demonized. That's a very old debating trick.

And a tiresome one.

UPDATE: About those oil ocean shipping routes ("sea lines of communication"), here's a nice graphic:

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office
Note: Circles represent millions of barrels per day transported through each chokepoint. Arrows represent common petroleum maritime routes.