Protesting Pipelines Is Becoming A Growing 'Industry'

Protesting Pipelines Is Becoming A Growing 'Industry'
Protesting pipelines is becoming a growing 'industry' fueled by scare tactics and social media.

Similar protests occurred against hydraulic fracturing in multiple states when environmental groups claimed the practice contaminated local water supplies and caused air pollution. Word spread through social media channels like wildfire, and before long, cities such as Denton, Texas – the birthplace of hydraulic fracturing in the Barnett shale – were outlawing the practice altogether. (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott later made it illegal for local communities to make such decisions when he signed H.B. 40 into law in 2015.) 

It was only when operators began holding open dialogues with communities about their plans, offering clear and transparent explanations about hydraulic fracturing and answering questions and concerns, that protests began to subside.

Eliminating Pipelines, Eliminating Energy

A 2017 study by Consumer Energy Alliance, prompted by the growing number of large-scale pipeline protests, shows that if planned oil and gas pipelines were prevented from being built, the consequences to the country would be dire on multiple levels.

The “Families, Communities and Finances: The Consequences of Denying Critical Pipeline Infrastructure” study determined that: The failure to permit and construct new pipeline infrastructure and the inability to obtain permits and approvals for coal, natural gas, nuclear and petroleum-fired electricity generation power to maintain the nation’s existing power generation would create a shortfall of one-third of the electricity generation needs from the overall U.S. electricity market by 2030.

To put that into perspective, a total of 12 states – California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Texas and all of New England – would be in a permanent blackout.

“If you follow the logical path of halting pipeline construction, you are actually hurting the people who can least afford to pay higher amounts for electricity, as prices would obviously significantly increase,” Holt said.

The chances of pipeline construction stopping are unrealistic, however the price tag for security and cleanup from protests, not to mention the political ramifications, can significantly delay or shut a project down altogether, Sisco said.

Because these high costs and derailments are typically not factored into budgets, pipeline companies and operators must be armed with the right tools to effectively quash social unrest, and that means adopting a new set of strategies that go well beyond traditional public relations tactics.

Read about evolving strategies for effectively dealing with industry opposition in a social media world on Rigzone tomorrow.


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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.

Peter Wechsler  |  November 01, 2017
For someone living by Standing Rock, the comments here are a good way to summarize the whole protest. You have the energy companies touting the safety of the pipeline while minimizing the fact that all the pipelines leak somewhere, no line is 100% leak proof. So ET can look at the other major pipeline spills and recognize they have to put all the protections in they can otherwise they'll be like Bridger/Belle Fourche or Tesoro and stuck with multi-million dollar cleanups and fines. However if Arbo is a good consensus for what the Native opinion is, then its as biased and propaganda laced as anything pushed by the fossil fuel industry. Arbo just brushes aside the TAT/MHA Nation, who have their own tribal oil company, are working on building their oil refinery, and have a number of oil pipelines running and being built under the lake that surrounds the Fort Berthold reservation. They've gone for a "Sovereignty by the Barrel" approach, seeing the plentiful reserves as an opportunity. If the Native opinion is that the oil companies are just colonialists once again denying them their rights, then how is it fair that protestors can deny the MHA nation its own choice in the matter. Has anyone asked how much tribal oil is flowing through DAPL off the reservation? Oh what the story could have been if Standing Rock had produced the oil instead of just dry holes. Also, stop bringing up the 1851 treaty lands, it was a treaty signed in bad faith by all parties involved (just ask the MHA nation, they'll tell you it was the Sioux that broke it first), and all that land that is being claimed as "Sioux Treaty Land" was Mandan land before the smallpox decimated them, forcing them to move north and combine with the Arikara and Hidatsa. So maybe ask them how they like their land being taken by the Sioux?
Glenn  |  September 22, 2017
So by Jays twisted logic we should not have airlines because they are involved in accidents. Even though they are clearly the safest way to travel.
Glenn  |  September 22, 2017
They hypocrisy of these professional protesters is staggering. Just look at how many of them drove vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel made possible by our countrys refining and pipeline network these sites. Whats worse, they abandoned their cars or burned them causing more environmental damage than a pipeline ever would. Rebels without a clue and useful idiots every one of them. Lord knows they are incapable of holding down any other job. There are few people I have less respect for than those who disparage the products and services they depend on for survival. And, they say nothing about an alternative solution. Where do you think all the components for cell phones, computers, tires, medicine, medical devices, solar panels, turbine blades, bicycles, water treatment facilities and thousands of other products come from? Thats right, fossil fuels. But dont let the facts get in the way of a good protest. If you really want to impress me, do without these products that you despise. Of course that means you wont be posting anything online since you will have to get rid of all your electronic devices.
mark  |  September 20, 2017
I have managed to live and work in the Oil and Gas industry for many years until this last down turn. Many things have changed. processes chemicals protecting the environment. We have all had to take responsibility for the land and environment we hope to turn over to our children. Miss information is the key today. Many of these who protest have no clue of the industry or how it really works. the geology and how things are done. But for anyone to say homeless and unemployed is also uniformed. organized and well funded is much more the case. this is a focused effort to change way of life and no one should believe otherwise!
Dejan Smaic  |  September 20, 2017
I agree that the narrative was changed. As in any industrial process, there are inherent risks. Ive covered protests as a freelance photographer along the Colorado front range, and there are a core of professional protesters that will chime in anything anti-establishment. The best ammunition is strongly supported information with facts, and the unbiased truth. Unfortunately, the truth gets lost over shouting of bad information, which tends to get more attention than good to marginally good news. I worked on the Ruby Pipeline as an environmental consultant. Had the present politically charged atmosphere existed then, we would have had protests at Goose Lake and along several other environmentally & culturally sensitive areas of the pipeline.
Arbo  |  September 20, 2017
Professional protestors? What about DAPLs paid infiltrators? I can name names. Sunoco Logistics has one of the worst spill records of any pipeline operator in the U.S. Not once in this article was it mentioned that there is no such thing as zero leak pipelines. Thats a true pipe dream. And so what if 95% (and where did you get that data?) came from out-of-state.. this isnt a state issue, its national and global issue. The article never mentions that many of the protestors came from Tribes from across the U.S. and Canada, Mongolia, and Australia. The pipeline was built on Sioux Treaty (Fort Laramie Treaty, 1851 and 1868( land that was never ceded to the United States. The article, as expected, never mentions the impact to Native American Tribes or the historical trauma tribes have faced. Yes, yes...we know that Three Affiliated produces Bakken crude. But you never mention that Bakken crude is absolutely the most toxic crude in the U.S. There was no mention that the Lake Oahe crossing is the absolute longest HDD crossing under a freshwater body of water in the entire world and it will leak, and no leak detection system can detect long, slow leaks. The article doesnt mention the number of sacred sites that the were desecrated despite being pointed out by the Standing Rock Traditional Cultural Property Officer. The article never points out that DAPL claims they have a spill plan in effect, but wont disclose to the Standing Rock Tribes emergency responders, who will be the first in harms way, where the spill response equipment is or where it is coming from (Bismarck and Minneapolis). There is no foam onsite, and if a spill occurs ETP/DAPL have no legal authority or business license to enter tribal land to control the spill. Why is ETP and Kelcey Warren spending so much advertising money on TV propaganda in North Dakota? The Army Corps of Engineers rubber-stamped this project with not a single engineer within their ranks capable of understanding HDD mechanics, nor a chemical engineer among them to even have the capability to challenge the engineering. Lets talk about irony... we just had a memorial for a terrorist attack killed 3600 people and people are shouting, never forget... But when millions of Native people have suffered genocide, oppression, and historical trauma over several hundred years by colonialists, the same people shout, get over it. No, my friends, I spent 20 plus years in the oil and gas industry, a good portion of my time in the Bakken, and nowhere have seen an industry floating so much propaganda and underhanded behavior. DAPLs behavior was shameful. This article is loaded with propaganda, alt facts, and bias... and as Native people lawyer-up, myself among them, were going to hit back..and hit hard. DAPL and how we take on the industry aint over, not by a long shot. We understand fossil fuels are here for awhile, but they are stranded assets and the future is not in them.
Jay  |  September 20, 2017
Enough pipelines have leaked and caused residents to evacuate, or outright caused explosions, that the pipeline owners have only themselves to blame. If pipelines didnt fail and cause harm, there would be no protesters. Owners of pipelines get what they pay for....poor maintenance and inspection to save a buck upfront causes this scenario, having to spend a buck later and get bad press.
Tim Albus  |  September 19, 2017
Hippies and Indians living on my tax dollars. Get out of the way or we will run you over
Robert J. Ryan  |  September 19, 2017
Energy Transfer appears to be fighting back - on August 22, 2017 they filed a RICO action against Greenpeace International and a number of other NGOs in North Dakota Federal Court.
alex  |  September 19, 2017
Bunch of homeless, jobless people who have nothing better to do than protest against something they have no knowledge about.

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