Pipeline Protests causing major issues for Canadian transit

Major railway blockades have taken over Canada – causing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to convene a meeting with ministers and members of parliament to map out a path forward. Fox News highlighted how thousands of rail passengers across the country were forced to cancel trips as environmental activists blocked major tracks across the country – what the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called an ‘emergency.’

The burdensome blockades are the activists’ response to the approved plans to build the $5 billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline that crosses into Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory in Houston, British Columbia. Standoffs between the Royal Canadian Mounted Policy (RCMP) and the Wet’suwet’en Nation escalated this past week – leading to dozens of protester arrests.

Protester Vanessa Gray told CTV News:

“We are here for as long as we can be disruptive. We are here in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders, the hereditary chiefs that oppose the pipeline, with solidarity with everyone who has faced violence from the police arrests and people who are still faced with surveillance from the police. We are here also to shut down Canada.”

These protests clearly miss the mark – as passenger rail travel has nothing to do with a natural gas pipeline – and come at the expense of Canadians simply trying to get from point A to point B. The Canadian National Railway (CN) is working to mitigate the protests and end the illegal blockades that are impacting productivity and discouraging safe transit for citizens across Canada. After having to cancel more than 400 trains over the past week, CN has resorted to laying off more than 400 workers as the prolonged protests continue.

In a statement, CN president and CEO JJ Ruest said, “This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN’s activities, and beyond our control.”

Trudeau is working alongside officials to ensure protests will cease to prevent any further harm to the country’s economy and ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely.

Energy Transfer Joins North Dakota iPipe Consortium

The Williston Herald recently highlighted Energy Transfer, operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline, will join iPipe, North Dakota’s Intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program, which consists of oilfield companies seeking to prevent leaks and advance leak detection technology.

iPipe, which was formed in 2017, has pursued technology through advanced sensors and even satellite data to safely monitor pipeline systems. This is a step in the right direction for further bolstering the state’s critical energy infrastructure network.

Vicki Granado, vice president of Corporate Communications for Energy Transfer, believes this is an important safety feature. Granado said in a statement:

“Dakota Access Pipeline is excited to help steer the efforts of this program, and expects that the outcomes of this unique program will result in an even greater record of safe operations across the entire pipeline industry.”

Energy Transfer will be joining iPipe alongside companies such as DCP Midstream, Enbridge, Hess, and Oasis Midstream Partners.

North Dakota Petroleum Council president Ron Ness was pleased to hear Energy Transfer is taking strides to advance leak detection. He said:

“IPIPE is a model of how to blend entrepreneurship and applied research together via a private and public partnership. Energy Transfer Partners bring incredible knowledge and experiences to the table which will just enhance the potential for improved pipeline technology and leak detection.”

This announcement is an exciting development for North Dakota’s energy industry and a key reminder of the industry’s commitment to pipeline safety.

GAIN Applauds Local South Dakota Decision to Follow Recommendations

Earlier today, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to uphold the Planning Commissions’ approval of the conditional use permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline pump station in Harrisburg, South Dakota. The pipeline currently ships more than 570,000 barrels of oil from the Bakken in North Dakota to refineries across the Midwest and Gulf regions. Construction of the estimated $30-40 million pump station in South Dakota will lead to more jobs and help allow the pipeline to double its capacity up to 1.1 million barrels a day.

Following is a statement from the GAIN Coalition which you can attribute to me, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the coalition.

“We applaud the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners who supported the recommendations and the existing rules and regulations that will help the U.S. become more energy self-reliant and bring construction jobs to South Dakota. Developing the energy resources in the Bakken has been a tremendous benefit to our nation’s economy and energy security. By optimizing the Dakota Access Pipeline we will be able to develop more of our nation’s resources for use here in the U.S. as well as hedge against oil volatility elsewhere in the world. Pipelines remain the safest and most economical means to transport the petroleum our country needs and when officials like those in Lincoln County follow the letter and spirit of existing regulations, it allows for regulatory certainty for companies seeking to invest in our nation’s infrastructure.”

GAIN Coalition Supports Proposed Federal Legislation to Protect Pipelines

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) called on Congress to expand federal legislation to protect pipelines. Current law allows for fines and prison time for “damaging or destroying” pipelines currently in operation. Under the proposal, the law would be expanded to include “vandalism, tampering with, or impeding, disrupting or inhibiting the operation of” both existing pipelines or “those under construction.” The proposal follows a recent trend in statehouses around the country introducing, and in some cases passing, similar legislation to protect critical energy infrastructure.

Below is a statement that can be attributed to me, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the GAIN Coalition.

“The GAIN Coalition commends PHMSA for their recent proposal calling on Congress to strengthen legislation at the federal level to protect our nation’s critical energy infrastructure. While free speech and discourse surrounding pipelines are important, there is a formal process that welcomes public comment and concerns. We encourage those interested to participate in this process and have their voice heard.

Once pipelines are lawfully permitted – it is critical developers are guaranteed regulatory certainty so projects can move forward in a meaningful and predictable manner, and ultimately come into service. This proposed legislation will play a key role in protecting our nation’s pipeline network, as well as keeping workers, law enforcement, and community members safe.”