Authors: Byron L. Dorgan
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To Kim, for thirty years and many, many moreÂ â¦
âBYRON L. DORGAN
For Laurie, as always
My heartfelt thanks to Mel Berger at William Morris Endeavor (WME) for his role in helping make this project a reality. No author could have a better or more knowledgeable advocate in the book business than I have had with Mel Berger. He's the best!
This book owes its existence to an idea from Tom Doherty at Tor Books, who has an abiding interest in a clean and renewable energy future. Tom believes that new and interesting ideas can awaken the public consciousness through books of fiction. I agree!
The ideas and guidance by Bob Gleason at Tor Books have also played a major role in the completion of this book. Thanks to both of them for the inspiration and encouragement. And a special thanks to Katharine Critchlow at Tor Books for keeping us on schedule and handling the myriad of details needed to get a book ready for publication.
And finally my admiration and gratitude go to my coauthor, David Hagberg. Pairing me to work with an unbelievably talented fiction writer like David has been a burden for him, I'm sure. When the two of us conspired on a plot that would represent a leap ahead in thinking about energy policy in the future, I learned about David's facile mind and creative imagination. It's clear why he has been such a successful fiction writer over so many years. It has been a treat to work with him on this book and to brainstorm with him about our energy future. Thanks, David!
We may have already reached the carbon dioxide tipping point, which in effect means that even if the planet reduced its carbon emission to zero, it may take a thousand years for Earth to heal itself. As dramatic as this might sound, the situation is closer to reality than even Al Gore's
An Inconvenient Truth
Of course, doing nothing is not an option. We have to act now, to at least mitigate the effects of the poisons we are pumping into the air.
One possibility is a proposal called the Dakota District Initative, which is to our environment what the Manhattan District Project (to develop the atomic bomb) was to ending World War II.
Carbon dioxide emissions into our atmosphere will kill us. Like the nuclear clock of the sixties, the carbon dioxide death zone clock is at one minute before midnight. Added to that is the threat to our survival as a nation from the dependence on foreign oil.
Our entire planet is being held hostage, and there is no guarantee unless something is done soonâsomething drasticâthat the ransom will be paid and the victim rescued.
ExxonMobil Baytown Oil Refinery
THE PROBLEM IS
that once you teach a man how to fight, and then place him in harm's way on the battlefield, he just might get a taste for killing that's so deeply embedded in his soul that he can't simply walk away. It happens to one extent or another in every conflict, but escalated after the first Iraqi war, which saw an increase in post-traumatic stress syndrome casualties and the start of a serious number of GIs committing suicide. It was crazy.
They were volunteers, actually financial conscripts with nowhere else to turn for jobs, from the poorer sections of Chicago and New York, the barrios of Los Angeles, and places like Michigan City, Philly, Duluth, and Waterloo, and remote spots in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, and sometimes from the Yoopers, as they are called in the backwoods of Upper Peninsula Michigan. Lots of them drifting toward fringe and radical groups like the Posse Comitatus, Armed Forces of National Liberation, Aryan Nations, the Covenant, the Christian Patriots Defense League, the United Underground, and a host of others.
Warren Kowalski, about to turn fifty-five tomorrow and under five-five with narrow features and the small man's chip on his shoulder, lay on his belly in a ditch twenty feet from the back maintenance gate of the ExxonMobil fuel refineryâthe sixth-largest port in the worldâsprawling across thirty-four-hundred acres along the Houston Ship Channel, the air stinking of gasoline and a dozen other chemicals. Employing four thousand people, the facility was vital not only to Southeast Texas, but to the entire U.S. economy. Without its six hundred thousand barrels of oil per day the engines of the entire nation would be seriously hurt; gasoline price at the pump would spike.
But Baytown was more than a facility to refine oil into diesel fuel and gasoline, it was also the largest petrochemical facility in the world, producing olefins used for making a wide variety of plastics; aromatics used for solvents and mostly as additives to gasoline to raise its octane rating; synthetic rubber for tires; polyethylene, the most widely used plastic in the world; and polypropylene, used for everything from medical equipment, clothing, and even the plastic tops on soda and water bottles; along with a host of other oil-based compounds absolutely vital to modern life and commerce.
And Kowalski and his assault force of five menâall of them veterans from the Iraq-Kuwait wars, all of them highly decorated, all of them Posse Comitatus, men with deep-seated hatreds and angersâwere here to destroy the place.
It was late, after two in the morning, the sky overcast, no moon, a very light drizzleâall factors, except for the rain, that Kowalski, the sarge, had planned for.
“Hit them when they least expect it,” he'd told his people; Higgins and Marachek who'd come over from Montana out of the Brotherhood, Laffin and Ziegler from the Upper Peninsula, and Dick Webber, who had connections at Fort Hood, which got them the M-16s and Colt 1911A1 .45 pistols.
Good men all of them, Kowalski, thought, preparing to give the signal.
He'd been born and raised in Michigan City, his father, brothers, uncle, and several cousins all working at the steel mills, from which he had escaped by joining the army two years before Iraq started to go bad.
He'd just been a grunt, corporal a couple of times, but then got busted because he couldn't take orders, and he liked his beer and pot combo a little too much, yet the guys had taken to calling him “Sarge” from the beginning because this was his plan, and he saw no need to correct them, as long as they followed orders. Nor had he known any of them before three weeks ago, when he'd posted a notice on the Posse Comitatus news board on the Net and on-site in Billings and Sault Sainte Marie for an op to, in his words: “Gain payback for the bastards who kept extending us no matter what it did to our gourds.” It was the fat cats who made obscene profits off the backs of the grunts with their noses in the mud and shit, who back in the world owned steel plants, coal mines, oil wells, and power stations. Millionaires with their noses up the Pentagon's ass.
“And just like in Kuwait and Iraq during the first dustup with the burning wells spewing black shit into the air which fucked us up royally, they're doing the same thing with their refineriesâfucking up the air so we can't even breathe it.”
The guys either didn't give a shit about his message or didn't understandâor both; they were just interested in getting back into it. They wanted to shoot someone, blow up some shit. The air pollution thing didn't matter, most of them were heavy smokers, especially Kowalski with his two and a half packs of Camel unfiltereds.
But for Kowalski the message was everythingâor at least that's what he'd convinced himself was the truthâthough if he was being honest with himself in a rare moment, too rare his ex-wife would have said, he was really just like the others. A disaffected grunt who hadn't gotten enough; he wanted more, message or not. Knock the entire bastard country back to the horse-and-buggy days. Simpler times, when men were men and no one fucked with them.