aside The Skinny On Energy Transfer Partners, The Dakota Access Pipeline Company

Image result for photo of company Energy Transfer PartnersEnergy Transfer Partners is the company pursuing the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline which would move about a half a million barrels of crude oil each day almost 1,200 miles from the Bakken Oil Fields in northwest North Dakota to Illinois.

But the plans for it to tunnel under the Missouri River in ND have been met with months of peaceful resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux Indians, other Native American tribes and a host of supporters ranging from veterans, environmentalists, students and just a lot of folks who believe in fair play. Despite numerous instances of harsh treatment from those representing the interests of Energy Transfer Partners, this coalition have held back the construction start-up.Image result for photo of company Energy Transfer Partners

“The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry oil across four states to a shipping point in Illinois. The project has been held up while the Army Corps of Engineers consults with the Standing Rock Sioux, who believe the project could harm the tribe’s drinking water and Native American cultural sites.”

As of December 4, 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers announced its rejection of an application by an oil company to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River. The Corps is now considering alternate routing for the pipeline.

But Energy Transfer Partners agents are responding by declaring its intent to ignore the Army Corps recent accommodation while maintaining its goal to continue on its current course.

Related image
Energy Transfer Equity headquarters

As per the following report, the Standing Rock Sioux have good reasons to be worried. Channel 5 ABC Eyewitness Evening News did the following 11/22/16 report on the business, Energy Transfer Partners, titled: “Records Show History of Safety Violations for Dakota Access Pipeline Company:”

“We searched through federal and state records to learn more about Energy Transfer Partners.”

“The records show the company has lost at least 18,845 barrels of crude oil through pipeline spills across the country since 2005.”Image result for photo of company Energy Transfer Partners

“Since 2010, the government has fined the company and its subsidiaries more than $22 million for environmental and other violations.”

“Do accidents happen? Yes. What do we do when accidents happen? We fix them,” North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said.”

“Pipeline supporters point out that some leaks are caused by factors out of the company’s control. They also state that pipelines are still generally seen as safer than moving oil by trucks or trains.”Image result for photo of company Energy Transfer Partners

“Under the river is probably the safest place for this pipeline,” Ness said.”

“Energy Transfer Partners say its subsidiary, Sunoco Logistics, would operate the Dakota  Access pipeline.”

“Federal records show no company has had more hazardous materials leak in the past decade than Sunoco Logistic. There have been 274 incidents.”

“For comparison, the second company on that list had 18 fewer incidents, but operates more than four times the miles of pipeline.”

“Energy Transfer’s incidents include an explosion after one of its natural gas pipelines ruptured in Texas.”

“And, Sunoco Logistics’ pipeline leaked 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a Pennsylvania creek after a landslide triggered by a flood.”

“Protesters in the Twin Cities and in North Dakota are decrying the company’s plan to tunnel under the Missouri River.”

“We protect our land, we protect our water,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.

“It’s a movement most important to the people who live just down river on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.”Fireworks go off in the Oceti Sakowin Camp close to

My Thoughts

The promise by Energy Transfer Partners officials, that there will be better paying jobs created by having this pipeline has little value if an entire population will be deprived of their main supply of drinking water because of one oil leak and with its track record, this is a very real possibility.

Their argument that transporting oil in a pipeline under water is safer than by shipping oil products by train or trucks is full of leaks. The damage to the environment because of an oil spill from a truck or train is much more limited and contained than when a pipeline leak occurs as barrels of oil are pulsing through a pipeline at record speeds.

The following update on 12/6/16 provides additional details about the Dakota Access Pipeline story from the 10/28/16 edition of Time Magazine by Justin Worland:

Governor Names Dauwen 2017 Teacher of the Year
Jack Dalrymple…He is now known as “Governor DAPL” (pronounced “dapple”).
Image result for photo of protesters being hosed with freezing water dakota pipeline
Protestors have been subjected to being hosed with freezing water.

“Supporters of the pipeline—which include state and local government leaders —have showed little interest in accommodating the project’s critics, particularly the protesters on the ground. North Dakota Governor (republican) Jack Dalrymple has called in the National Guard as well as an army of other police officials.” (Over 500 arrests have occurred.)

“Protesters and tribal leaders have accused officials of unnecessarily rough treatment. Police have used pepper spray, rubber bullets and concussion cannons, among other tactics, according to the tribe. Amy Goodman, a journalist with the Democracy Now! program, was arrested while covering the protest for allegedly trespassing. Footage she captured showed police officers allowing their dogs to charge protesters.”

20 comments

    • Dear Horty,

      This company, Energy Transfer Partners is not acting as a responsible American run organization. I would not want to be one of their investors.

      Thanks a million for all of your support and for this reblog.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • Always dear friend! I agree … on another note, I know we mentioned this b4 … did you notice a post on the reaction to the general election?
        Truthfully .. it bothered me! Anyway … that’s how it rolls. There’s more to it than I can write here. That’s why … hugs!!

  1. Thanks Gronda. Pipelines do breech, so I am always leery of the word “never” which was uttered by the CEO in an interview. It should be noted he backtracked when pushed on his “never” comment. I am certain they have taken all precautions to make them better as they build new ones, but taking extra due diligence and being respectful of the protestors’ concerns makes sense. Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      If there is a sensible alternative, even if it costs Energy Transfer Partners and its investors more monies, then that is the option that should be taken.

      Ciao, Gronda

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    The Dakota Access Pipeline project has been high on my list of issues lately. I wrote one post about it, and have another in-process, but meanwhile, fellow blogger-friend, Gronda Morin has done a good bit of research and written this insightful and timely post. It is important that we understand the potential ramifications of this project, and learn about both sides of the issue. Gronda has done an excellent job here, and I am sharing it today. Please take a few minutes to read her analysis and be sure to drop her a comment letting her know your thoughts.

    • Dear Jill Dennison,

      This is a story that the establishment media was slow in covering. It is because of a groundswell of coverage via social media that has pushed this story into the media spotlight which it deserves.

      Thanks a million for your support and for this reblog.

      Hugs, Gronda

  3. Excellent , balanced, reporting! I read that the pipeline would also violate sacred burial grounds that are precious to the Sioux. No? In any event, the entire project is borderline insane — and it is interesting that Trump has financial interests in the companies involved! So it goes.

    • Dear Hugh Cutler,

      The sacred burial grounds is an important aspect to this story but the Sioux Indians’ concerns about this seems to be of inconsequential value to the representatives of Energy Transfer Partners.

      Both the oil company’s encroachment of the sacred burial grounds and the usage of the Missouri River, a threat to the reservation’s main water supply, provide the underpinnings to the tribes legal actions.

      The tribe has sued the Army Corps of Engineers, by claiming that the agency violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NHPA requires the agency to consider the cultural importance/ impact of federally-permitted sites and NEPA to weigh all the implications for potential problems with the waterways. The litigation is ongoing.

      It looks like DT has recently divested himself of stock in this company but in general, DT has a more favorable attitude towards supporting the fossil fuel industry. This company does not have a great track record. It would behoove Energy Transfer Partners to do the right thing by cooperating in rerouting the pipeline elsewhere. There are folks around the world who are watching this. The publicity for them and the fossil fuel industry is horrible.

      Ciao, Gronda

        • Dear Keith,

          The fossil fuel industry are still reeling from the failure of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Industry leaders do not want to be part of another shut down and so they are taking a hard line. This is not a long term winning strategy.

          At some point, I am praying that overwhelming negative publicity forces them to reconsider their stance.
          Ciao, Gronda

  4. I was heavily involved in the fight in Oregon against OLNG which wanted to run a huge natural gas pipeline through our water supply and build a terminal on the coast to liquidate it and send it to Asia. We defeated them after 10 years of protests, hearings, research, and public responses to each step of the project.

    OLNG said for a long time that they were going to ignore the Army Corps of Engineers findings and state laws, but in the end, they couldn’t. The key for us was perseverance, a unified coalition, constant pressure, and doing the research (like you) so that we knew what we were talking about and could educate the community and our political leaders. We couldn’t believe we won, but we did.

    Great post! Power to the People!

    • Dear D. Wallace Peach,

      I am very appreciative for your sharing this story which gives all of us hope. We need to stick together on issues like this. This is an important reminder that “we the people” do have power.

      Hugs, Gronda

  5. I’ll be posting an insightful piece on the Pipeline later this week. It will touch on a lot of things the tribal leaders don’t want to tell you and how the protestors are not as peaceful as it seems.

    • Dear Once Written,

      Overall, objectively, the actions by tribal leaders have been much more measured than how the agents of the oil company have acted.

      Be careful not to quote from the one of the myriad of fake stories that are out there.

      Some of which have been uncovered in an 11/28/16 report by Snopes.com:
      On 6 November 2016, web site InsideSources.com published an editorial (“What the Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Aren’t Telling You”) that was picked up and run by newspapers across the United States. The piece appeared in opinion sections days before the filing of a motion by Energy Transfer Partners [PDF], and made a variety of rebuttals to what the author said were claims and demands made by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

      The author of the piece, Shawn McCoy, was bylined as “publisher of InsideSources.com,” with little biographical information accompanying the widely-published op-ed. However, McCoy’s footprint in online media is rather large, both as a political operative for the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign as well as apparent author of native content for politically-aligned groups like the Taxpayers’ Protection Alliance (funded by similar groups like Americans for Job Security).

      The editorial began by suggesting that DAPL protests are celebrity-driven, populated by paid agitators, and maintaining that if the “full story” was aired that sympathy for the Native American tribes involved “would vanish”:The activists tell an emotionally charged tale of greed, racism and misbehavior by corporate and government officials. But the real story of the Dakota Access Pipeline was revealed in court documents in September, and it is nothing like the activists’ tale. In fact, it is the complete opposite.

      There were few details about celebrities or paid agitators behind the protest, no citations backing claims of violence perpetrated by the protesters, no examples of the “emotionally charged tale” being told, and no details whatsoever about the “real story” that had apparently been revealed in court documents in September 2016. Without references or concrete examples, none of the quoted material could be properly checked for accuracy.

      It continued:

      The record shows that Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, spent years working diligently with federal, state and local officials to route the pipeline safely and with the fewest possible disruptions. The contrast between the protesters’ claims and the facts on record is stunning.

      Protesters claim that the pipeline was “fast-tracked,” denying tribal leaders the opportunity to participate in the process. In fact, project leaders participated in 559 meetings with community leaders, local officials and organizations to listen to concerns and fine-tune the route. The company asked for, and received, a tougher federal permitting process at sites along the Missouri River. This more difficult procedure included a mandated review of each water crossing’s potential effect on historical artifacts and locations.

      One specific portion of the above-quoted text attributed the term “fast-tracked” to “protesters.” In a July 2016 statement, that language was used by Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe:

      The Corps puts our water and the lives and livelihoods of many in jeopardy. We have laws that require federal agencies to consider environmental risks and protection of Indian historic and sacred sites. But the Army Corps has ignored all those laws and fast-tracked this massive project just to meet the pipeline’s aggressive construction schedule.

      According to the piece, the pipeline’s owners, Energy Transfer Partners, spent years working with community interests to construct its route. No evidence was provided of the purported 559 meetings between ETP and the community, but going by the 10 July 2014 date of early coverage in the Des Moines Register, 631 days elapsed between the initial query and 1 April 2016, when DAPL protests began. By that (admittedly loose) metric, ETP would have participated in community meetings nearly once a day, including on weekends.

      The editorial continued on by saying that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met 389 times with leaders from 55 tribes and referenced a year and a half of “stonewalling” by tribal leaders:Protesters claim that the Standing Rock Sioux pursued meetings with an unresponsive Army Corps of Engineers. Court records show that the roles in that story were in fact reversed. The corps alerted the tribe to the pipeline permit application in the fall of 2014 and repeatedly requested comments from and meetings with tribal leaders only to be rebuffed over and over. Tribal leaders ignored requests for comment and canceled meetings multiple times.

      But a 4 August 2016 suit filed by the tribes opposing the pipeline [PDF] specifically contradicted that claim:

      On February 17, 2015, the Corps sent the Standing Rock Tribal Historic Preservation Office (“THPO”) a generic form letter seeking to initiate consultation under §106 on the Lake Oahe crossing component of DAPL. The THPO responded immediately and forcefully … The THPO committed the Tribe to full participation in the § 106 process, and “recommend[ed] a full TCP (Traditional Cultural Property) and archaeological Class III cultural Resource Survey to be completed prior to any mitigation that would take place,” using tribal monitors.

      The Corps did not immediately respond, and in the months that followed, both the THPO and the Tribal Chairman followed up with numerous additional letters to the Corps outlining concerns about cultural impacts, and seeking to engage the Corps in the good-faith consultation process required by § 106. See, e.g., Ex. 7 at 1 (April 8, 2015 letter from THPO) (“To date we have not received any specific communications or correspondence in reference to any of our concerns addressed” in previous letters); Ex. 8 at 1 (August 19, 2015 letter from Tribal Chairman) (“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe expects the required government-to-government consultation and environmental and cultural resource review processes to be followed with respect to Dakota Access. However, as of the present time, I have not been contacted by your office on this matter.”)

      The closest to a source for the “389 meetings” claim we could locate originated with StandingRockFactChecker.com, a web site devoted to advocating for the construction of the pipeline. From its “About” page:

      The Standing Rock Fact Checker is a project of the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN) – a partnership of more than 40 civic, business, labor and agricultural groups who support the economic development and energy security benefits associated with infrastructure projects in the Midwest.

      An October 2016 post from that site reiterated many of the same core points as the editorial quoted above:

      The protest has not been peaceful whatsoever and it is blatantly irresponsible for any Dakota Access protestors to continue to perpetuate this claim.

      The two-year process was not ‘fast-track’: “There are at least two grounds for demanding a full environmental review of this pipeline, instead of the fast-track approvals it has received so far.”

      Also according to the editorial, “the company is paying to relocate the tribe’s water intake to a new spot 70 miles from the location of the contested pipeline crossing,” implying that Energy Transfer Partners had already acceded to the desires of the protesters:

      he pipeline route was adjusted based on concerns expressed by locals — including other tribal leaders — who met with company and Army Corps of Engineers officials. The court record reveals that the Standing Rock Sioux refused to meet with corps officials to discuss the route until after site work had begun. That work is now 77 percent completed at a cost of $3 billion.

      On 22 November 2016, Reuters reported on the efforts to relocate the water intake spot from its planned location:

      The reservation, which spans North and South Dakota, currently gets water 20 miles away from the pipeline’s planned location … The Standing Rock Sioux say the new supply point is not enough to ease their concerns over the pipeline. The developer behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP.N), has vowed not to reroute the line.

      “Just because the new intake is 70 miles away doesn’t mean our water is still not threatened,” said David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

      Reuters addressed the funding of the new water intake point, but did not say whether ETP was responsible. After noting that the project began in 2009 (five years before DAPL), the article added that the water treatment plant had been in the works for years before that:

      The project, which has received little attention in the months-long fight over the Dakota Access pipeline, has been a goal for the Sioux for more than a decade. It was first funded in 2009 … The Sioux received about $30 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build a new water treatment plant, pump station, 5 million-gallon storage tank and several pipelines to feed fresh water to roughly 10,000 reservation residents.

      The op-ed continues:

      In response to a lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux, the court documented “dozens of attempts” by the corps to consult with the tribe. It documented the legal and proper approval process the corps used to permit all of the contested construction sites the tribe claimed were improperly permitted. It even documented evidence that the corps had exceeded the minimum legal requirements during its earnest and lengthy efforts to receive the input of tribal leaders on the pipeline.

      This appears to reference a 9 September 2016 story from the Bismarck Tribune, reporting that three federal agencies stepped in to halt construction just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation just after a federal court judge ruled to allow work on the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue:

      The judge wrote the corps made “dozens of attempts” to communicate with the tribe about historical artifacts near the river, and the tribe “largely refused to engage in its consultations. It chose instead to hold out for more — namely, the chance to conduct its own cultural surveys over the entire length of the pipeline.”

      The tribe did provide timely and extensive comments earlier this year on a draft environmental assessment, and the corps and tribe held several meetings to discuss the cultural surveys, the judge noted.

      Finally, the piece claimed that DAPL protesters “may have a tight grip on media coverage of the pipeline, but they have a demonstrably loose grip on the facts.” Once again, however, no specific instances in which the tribes put out factually inaccurate information were referenced, nor was evidence provided to back the claim that the media favored the tribal narrative over any other.

      Although the “Standing Rock” editorial purports to provide a balanced look at the ongoing dispute over DAPL, it lacks substantiation for almost all of its claims. Without specific references to the purported circumstances described, ensuring that the narrative is factually accurate remains incredibly difficult.

      With Warmest Wishes, Gronda

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