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COMMUNITY PUNDITS
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realitytrumpsbull 09:59 AM on 10/23/2013
How are we doing with the ethanol? I think people that harp and bark about all the supposed problems and shortcomings with oil production are missing the point, we need to do the REpower-type thing, and install more solar and wind, and gain our energy from Nature. When a windmill falls over, you put new blades on it or you put the tower back up, depending on what happened, there. When a nuclear plant falls  Read More...
03:50 PM on 10/23/2013
"I think we all know that [the GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN GENERAL] ARE pretty much more catering toward the (MULTINATIONAL) industry and is doing what they want as opposed to protecting humans' health and safety."
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Bogey907
Like any other man, only more so.
03:47 PM on 10/23/2013
The regulators are just waiting until they can retire on a federal pension and then go work for the oil industry.
06:52 PM on 10/23/2013
Exactly right. The regulators need to be totally on board with the petroleum industry while appearing to do their expected jobs to not decrease their chances of being able to suck on the multimillion dollar oil company teat when they leave gov't service. Even Alan Greenspan said there should be no laws addressing fraud by corporations since they are perfectly CAPEABLE of regulating themselves. Sure they are, but this doesn't mean that they will if doing so could potentially decrease maximizing profits.
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Yuna Braska
03:22 PM on 10/23/2013
While significant incidences have decreased, slightly, the costs of those incidents has increased.

The ten year average for property damage is a little under $500 million, and the latest 3 year average is over $700 million. The spills/leaks are doing more damage.

http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/safety/AllPSI.html?nocache=1739
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jimtodd
Unrepentant child of '60s
03:19 PM on 10/23/2013
Regulators almost always come from the industries they are chosen to monitor. since that is where the knowledge pool lies. The problem is that forces individuals into a conflict where they are charged with policing their next potential employer or the really good friend they once worked with. Add to that the lifetime indoctrination that comes from all people wanting to believe that what they do is valid, and we end up with institutions that are inherently corrupted by human nature, even beyond the crimes of the corporations involved.
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rg9rts
Carpe Diem! This aint rehearsal
03:53 PM on 10/23/2013
Gee like leaving congress and feeding at the trough to being a lobbiest and filling the trough!
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yatahayaz
03:18 PM on 10/23/2013
This is the all-too-common theme of America nowadays. Our government and its agencies have become corporate-controlled entities that no longer perform the duties for which they were created. In the past 30 years Americans have allowed their country to become a proto-fascist state: Corporate owned, and under constant surveillance.
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Anaxamenes
It's not how big your micro-bio is...
03:17 PM on 10/23/2013
135 seems like an incredibly low number of enforcement officers. That would mean each officer is responsible for 19,259 miles of pipes. If they are walking 3 mph, they could cover that amount of pipes in 802 days if they worked 8 hours a day and that isn't even stopping for closer inspections of problem areas.

That seems like there isn't enough inspectors to get the job done safely. Let's be honest, companies aren't going to do it themselves properly, because that costs money.
03:28 PM on 10/23/2013
Did you really think inpsectors physically inspected every foot of pipe?
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rg9rts
Carpe Diem! This aint rehearsal
03:53 PM on 10/23/2013
Do they inspect any foot of pipe?
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Anaxamenes
It's not how big your micro-bio is...
10:11 PM on 10/27/2013
Do I really think they do? No, do I expect that they should, YES. I don't see the point of paying a regulator who doesn't actually go out and inspect, because the idea of an inspector is to catch things before they are catastrophic. Am I under the notion that it happens that way, not really but if we don't call out the problems, we are complicit with it continuing.
06:06 PM on 10/23/2013
Regulators don't perform routine inspections of pipelines.
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jstrate
02:30 PM on 10/23/2013
Agencies typically don't want their "dirty laundry" hung out for everybody to see, but it's impossible to know on the face of it whether or not all the time spent at industry conferences is time well spent or not. It's difficult or impossible for an outsider to know whether or not this is another example of an agency that has been captured. What counts is outcomes, and if significant pipeline incidents have been going down, that's good news. Whether that good news is due to the work of the agency or not would require an evaluation. The agency should take a careful look at Enbridge's pipeline running on the bed of Lake Michigan up at Mackinac. That leaks or bursts, it's certain that heads will roll.
08:22 PM on 10/23/2013
I agree, that is a scary section of pipe. I highly doubt we allow this crossing today.
02:19 PM on 10/23/2013
As an employee in this field, I have to point out, that the company I work for is very strict about following procedure, documenting data, and their number one priority is the safety of the public and its employees. I'm not disagreeing with the points made in this article. Of course these companies are going to schmooze the regulatory commissions, but don't think they are trying to cut corners or don't care about the welfare of the public. They have deep pockets and when utilities have spills and accidents, that cost comes right out of their pockets. They can't be insured, they are self insured. So whether they're actually concerned for human life, or they are more concerned about the bottom line, they ARE concerned about the integrity of pipelines and I know for a fact, that my company follows the requirements set by the commission, without fail.
04:49 PM on 10/23/2013
If this is the case, I would have to think that your company is the exception rather than the majority. There have been some extremely severe spills from defective pipelines over the last several years, and this is a major problem, due to the damage it does to the soil and water in the area that the spill occurs. During the mid eighties I was the director of transportation for an industrial fuel oil company, and am aware of the toxicity level of the oil after it's been refined. I also know that in most cases, if it was heavier than a number two oil, it didn't at that time require that you even use a combustible placard, or a hazardous material placard on the trailer. The simple fact,and the point of this story, is that the people that are supposed to regulate these things, really aren't.

They are,however, being wined and dined at these conferences, and therefore, the performance of their job is compromised. They are being "inspired" to overlook things that would embarrass the oil companies, and are giving in to the pressure. This is a grave danger to the people of this nation, and others.
09:32 PM on 10/23/2013
Yes, as I stated, I'm sure these big companies are shmoozing the regulatory commissions, however as I said, that doesn't change the fact that some companies are very concerned with the safety of the public. I'm a first responder in gas emergencies, and we spend hours upon hours in training to know what to look for, evacuation procedures, how to prevent damage, corrosion investigation etc etc. And that training is mandated and has to be current. I have to be retested on current procedures and keep my qualifications once year.
I am field audited regularly, and we have safety meetings once a week. I think that this article makes it seem as though these companies have no morals, and I'm living proof that they do care. I don't agree with ANYONE being bought and unfortunately it happens every day in politics and corporate companies. Just don't assume every utility is involved or corrupt. And definitely don't assume, they aren't concerned with safety.
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motoGpifupleez
watching with amusement
02:11 PM on 10/23/2013
In their "defense" I would remind people that when someone actually does their job and tries to punish an offender, it is always the government regulator that ends up taking the hit and the offending corporation gets another tax break and round of deregulation.
02:09 PM on 10/23/2013
Let me get this straight, the PHMSA can spend 2708 days (several years or about 11 working years) cavorting with those they are supposed to be regulating, then complain that the drafting of adequate rules to protect our citizens, property and the environment from what could be catastrophic impacts, large losses of life, millions of dollars in property damage, untold and long lasting damage to natural systems, is going to take several years ? And then have the audacity to expect us to be ok with the gross mismanagement of staff time, funds, and the lack of adequate protections because the agency "is creating a YouTube channel to persuade the industry to voluntarily improve its safety operations." Heads should roll (and I hate to say this because I voted for them), if the current administration can't find it's way out of the wallets of the oil and gas industry they need to go too. I'm fed up!
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mansterEZ
searching for secular humanist fact-based truth
02:09 PM on 10/23/2013
It's plainly obvious that the quid pro quo with the regulators and the petroleum/fossil fuel industry has been too cozy for faaar too long. It's also obvious that the Obama Administration has done nothing to try and fix this polluted conflict of interest relationship while giving way to Wall Street/hedge fund interests in order to support an over-inflated stock market. One must always remember that stock markets are little more than a measure of wealth of the top 10% mostly concentrated in the 1/10th of 1%. These people cannot exist without capitulation & support of the 90% who struggle just to get bye.
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HUFFPOST COMMUNITY MODERATOR
jeb50
Retired.
01:59 PM on 10/23/2013
Regulators paling around with the people they are suppose to be watching is old news.
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Patrick Joseph Mahoney
01:58 PM on 10/23/2013
Profit profit profit there is nothing more motivating than greed equal to sex.
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KarmaPatrol
Riverboat gambler Satellite whisperer I-Ind./Irony
01:56 PM on 10/23/2013
Question: Who's watching our pipelines?

Answer: It's a toss-up between a family of squirrels or Fluffy the Stray Cat.
01:55 PM on 10/23/2013
Possibly someone occasionally knocks over a cruet at the salad bar requiring an immediate inspection of the area surrounding the spill.