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Politics

It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation 163

Posted by timothy
from the slippery-laws dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Congresswoman Janice Hahn writes in the Daily Breeze that thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled onto a residential street in Wilmington, California when an idle pipeline burst in a residential neighborhood, wreaking havoc on the lives of families who live in the community. "With a noxious smell and the sounds of jackhammers engulfing the community, the residential neighborhood turned into a toxic waste site in less than an hour," says Hahn. "The smell was nauseating and unbearable. Extensive drilling on the street is causing damage to driveways and even cracking tile flooring inside homes. Residents have seen their lawns die within a two-week span and they worry that the soil may be toxic. Several residents have suffered from eye irritation, nausea, headaches and dizziness due to the foul oil odor, including an elderly woman who has lived in Wilmington for more than 20 years." (More, below.)
"The 10-inch pipeline is owned by Phillips 66, who initially said it was almost positive that the company was not to blame for the leak and declined to elaborate on why the unused 10-inch pipeline was filled with crude oil. Hahn says current loopholes in pipeline regulation are inexcusable and has called for a congressional hearing to examine regulations for pipeline safety and plans to introduce legislation that will specifically require that all abandoned or idle pipelines are routinely inspected. "The Wilmington community deserves answers and support from Phillips 66 and handing out gift cards and breakfast burritos to the residents is not in any way a substitute for transparency and accountability to the community," concludes Hahn. "This oil spill could have been prevented. With prudent oversight, we can make sure that the industries our communities rely on are also good neighbors and ensure that an incident like this never happens again.""
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It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

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  • No problem! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:50AM (#46677145) Journal
    All the residents capable of retaining counsel and fighting a decade-long war of attrition with a superior force can simply achieve redress for this tort through the courts! (until we tort-reform that away). Any of the sickies who 'die' before 'the lawsuit even finishes 250,000 pages of discovery' clearly just didn't care enough about righting the wrongs done to them, so they probably deserve them.
  • Stop Pretending... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:00PM (#46677191)

    ...that the current state of regulation is some kind of mistake or oversight. Never attribute to incompetence that which can be sufficiently explained by political corruption (which is not the same as malice - it's merely self interest and indifference towards others, i.e. systematized psychopathy).

    The current state of the regulations is what is intended, and only because they cannot get away with more. The board of Phillips is insulated from their actions (to not maximize safety) both from below (employee layer) and from above (corporate veil). No matter how big a spill they make and no matter what the degree of gross negligence, the worst that can possibly happen is that Phillips gets their profits reduced on a one-time basis. Nobody will ever see jail time, and this is the system working exactly as intended.

    The regulators who go easy on Phillips will be offered fat-cat industry positions when the episode is over, and everybody knows it. A spill is now a payday for regulators involved. They're probably tripping over each other to get assigned to the matter. Heck, we'll probably eventually get a leak about some regulator causing a spill just so he can get a better job - because why not? That's how the incentives are aligned; that's how the current government is architected.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture

  • Mismanagement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kheldan (1460303) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:13PM (#46677267) Journal
    Totally out of left field, but what can I say, my mind makes weird-sounding connections sometimes, so just hang with it for a minute..

    Crude oil is nasty stuff. Nobody is arguing that point. But while people complain about that (and this case in particular, and rightly so), they're complaining about it on their computers, or on their phones, both of which have high-end semiconductor devices and batteries in them that required even more noxious, toxic, dangerous chemicals to produce -- but nobody is complaining about their phones, or computers, or their nice quiet hybrid or 100% electric car, now are they? A modern bicycle contains components that required some sort of nasty chemicals and processes to produce, but nobody thinks about that, do they? Even shoes, used to for walking of all things, the most 'green' of all transportation devices, requires some rather nauseating chemicals to produce the synthetic rubber and other synthetic materials in them.

    My point here is this: Mismanagement is the problem. It's like the old argument: 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people'. Gun control advocates give you a dirty look when they hear this, but it's 100% true, now isn't it? Should we continue to transition away from fossil fuels like petroleum and coal? Absolutely! But don't forget that it's humans' management (or the lack thereof) that ends up causing many of the disasterous problems (like in this news story!) and not what's being managed.

    What I'm finally leading up to is this: Things like nuclear power (which, in one form or another, whether it's fission or fusion) are, in and of themselves, not evil; it's the mismanagement of it in the past that's left the nasty taste in people's mouths and the lasting negative sentiments in their minds. If we, as a civilization, had been more thoughtful and careful with our technology, maybe this little disasters in the Los Angeles area wouldn't have happened in the first place.

    Seriously, human race: It's time to grow up and start learning to put aside the base desires for power and money where the public interest is concerned and think more about what's good for our collective civilzation over the long run.
  • by pla (258480) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:44PM (#46677405) Journal
    Anyone exposed to the oil, or with property damage, will be compensated.

    "Home" does not count as fungible.

    The value to me of the place I've chosen to settle down far exceeds its market value. Yeah, great, they destroyed some houses and will pay for them plus a few grand extra as a "nuisance" fee; except they didn't destroy "some houses", they destroyed a neighborhood.

    You can't just pay me off for my sunny spot on the back deck where the light hits just so, filtered between my favorite trees. You can't just pay me off for the trails I've made in the woods behind my house, or all the time I've spent learning those woods and enjoying them. You can't just pay me off for the squirrels I've trained to take peanuts right from my hand while sitting in that aforementioned favorite sunny spot. You can't just pay me off for needing to move away from my neighbor who I consider a close friend, or pay off his kids who love coming over to play with the cat.

    Now... I would agree with you completely if the issue at hand involved individual property owners voluntarily selling a right of way across their yard to random oil companies, knowing that an accident could eventually occur. Except it doesn't work like that, and that explains why we hold these parasites to a higher standard of safety. They apply to the government for permission to steal that right of way for a pittance under eminent domain, they dot all their "i"s and cross all their "t"s to have the right people look the other way... And then they expect us to just live in the shadow of their stellar record of safety and caring about the environment?

    FUCK THAT. They can damned well pay to put in pressure shutoffs every hundred feet.
  • Re:No problem! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:40PM (#46677787)

    ...But it was for the last time.

    Talk about naive...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:52PM (#46677905)

    Are you really that naive that you think that only this single company was neglecting safety measures only in this single area?

  • Re:No problem! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mspohr (589790) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @02:36PM (#46678231)

    I should trust you?
    The Wikipedia article has 36 references.
    Where are your references for your theory?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @02:48PM (#46678341)

    Here's a list of nearly 300 that have happened since 2000 in the United States. That's just in the new milleneum, involving all kinds of petroleum products. [wikipedia.org]

     

    Either there are lots of problems all over and therefore we need to think about regulation, or not. This story is about one incident. It does not indicate lots of problems.

      Oh yes, there's lots of problems with our pipelines. Whether more regulation is necessary, that's not my place to say. But there isan issue in how petroleum products are piped around our country. Accidents happen, like car crashes happen all the time in the vehicle pipelines we call freeways. But we have to continue to work at solving them - to ignore these problems and say "oh well" is not an option.

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