Environmentalists are misrepresenting a transparently anti-fossil fuel editorial about the Dakota pipeline as rigorous analysis, a pipeline safety regulator told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Brigham McCown, a former Bush administration official and regulator with the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said that anti-fracking activists are stooping to new lows to stymie the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
McCown was referring to a report by Richard Kuprewicz, an analyst with a consulting firm that advises government agencies about pipeline safety; it was Kuprewicz who analyzed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assessment on the pipeline.
Kuprewicz’s 10-page report laying out the supposed mistakes in the government’s 166-page assessment, states that the project suffered from shoddy construction and the completed parts are unable to contain oil spills.
McCown is not convinced.
“I am not impressed with Kuprewicz’s report — its basically a running commentary meant to look like a legitimate report,” he told TheDCNF. “To start with,” he said, “you don’t start with a conclusion when you do an analysis. You analyze data and see where it takes you.”
The report plays into the reoccurring biases inherent among anti-fracking environmentalists, and contains almost no quantitative analysis, McCown said.
The government later used the assessment to deem the new pipeline route safe, arguing that Energy Transfer Partners “developed response and action plans, and will include several monitoring systems, shut-off valves, and other safety features to minimize the risk of spills and reduce … any potential damages.”
Many of the same environmentalist groups that opposed the Keystone XL pipeline have joined the fight against the DAPL, which would bring 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe spent several months demonstrating against the $3.7 billion project, arguing the pipeline’s construction would trample on tribal lands and destroy artifacts. They also believe it could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
Kuprewicz’s report prompted Standing Rock’s chairman Dave Archambault II to request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess its conclusion that the pipeline does not affect the tribe’s land.
“Mr. Kuprewicz’s findings reflect the common-sense point that was somehow lost in the Final Environmental Analysis—that pipelines leak, and that when they do so there are often devastating consequences, particularly when the leak contaminates water,” Archambault II wrote in a letter addressed to the Corps’ Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy.
McCown, however, believes the report is full of unqualified opinions about why the pipeline should be scuttled and threadbare on how to make the pipeline safer. In fact, most of Kuprewicz’s analysis is not even pegged to the government’s regulatory code, McCown claims.
The Bush-era regulator also believes that the Obama administration managed to halt the line’s construction mainly by going around the agencies responsible for determining DAPL’s safety.
“The entity that knows the most about pipeline safety has been muzzled because they, frankly, don’t want them out there with their pro-safety message, which would say, ‘pipelines are the way to go,” he told reporters Friday.
McCown said pipelines are safer than rail, which is the current method being used to move oil from North Dakota to the East Coast.
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