Oil: Crisis & Hope

A cold wind whipped down the valley. The spotlights on the cranes picked out the jagged chunks of ice floating down the muddy Mississippi. At a lonely spot below Cape Girardeau, Mo. there was important work to be done. It was 4 a.m., but time and the weather mattered little. As the creaking cranes slowly dropped a huge tube of steel through the water down to the soggy river bed, a shout went up. The job was done.

Thus, early one morning last week, the world's biggest (24-inch) oil pipeline was finished—550 miles...

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