pipeline safety

Above the law: Tiger Swan mercenaries get free pass from North Dakota judge

Blurring the lines between public and private law enforcement:

A North Dakota judge has refused to reopen a lawsuit that state regulators filed against a North Carolina-based private security firm accused of using heavy-handed tactics against people protesting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline. Judge John Grinsteiner's decision Monday ends the yearlong dispute in state district court, but doesn't resolve a disagreement over whether TigerSwan was conducting work that required a license in North Dakota.

North Dakota's Private Investigative and Security Board plans to appeal the case's dismissal to the state Supreme Court, attorney Monte Rogneby said. Should that fail, the board can still pursue tens of thousands of dollars in fines against TigerSwan through an administrative process.

Before we proceed, just a side-note: This North Dakota government regulatory board is exactly the kind of organization groups like Civitas want to abolish, because they exert control over private businesses by requiring licenses and permits and such. But in the case of Tiger Swan, they not only ignore such boards, they infiltrate and influence the operations of legitimate law enforcement agencies:

Proposed pipeline extension generates early opposition

Something wicked this way comes:

More than two dozen Haw River stakeholders concerned about a proposed natural gas pipeline that would extend into Alamance County met in Burlington on Wednesday, April 25, to organize opposition. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to install a pipeline that would begin in Pittsylvania County, Va., and extend about 70 miles south to Rockingham and Alamance counties and end in Graham, just south of Interstate 40-85. Initial plans show the pipeline could parallel the Haw River beginning in southeastern Rockingham County.

The Haw River Assembly hosted the meeting at the Company Shops Market. The Chatham County-based nonprofit says that it has been “defending the river since 1982” and is worried about the environmental damage the pipeline could cause. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to start construction in 2020 but must receive federal approval.

Many years ago the City of Burlington had just one drinking water reservoir, but as the population grew, the City impounded another (larger) reservoir a few miles North. Those two are connected via a spillway and the original creek, and this pipeline extension will cross between the two. And after it does, it will follow the Haw River very closely for several miles before terminating. That means Jordan Lake is also at risk of potential contamination, so this is not just a local problem, folks. Here's more from the Haw Riverkeeper:

DEQ rejects permit application for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Unfortunately, this is just one part of the process:

Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has rejected an environmental plan by Duke Energy and three other energy companies to build an interstate pipeline to carry natural gas from West Virginia into North Carolina.

The letter of disapproval from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is the first decision on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline from any state or federal government agency in the three states the project would traverse. Duke Energy is also expecting a decision this month from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as to whether the $5 billion pipeline project is necessary.

If you'll think back to the Stop Titan days, you'll remember their permits were rejected before they were approved, so don't be surprised if this decision gets reversed in the near future. But it does demonstrate that DEQ is closely scrutinizing the issue, and isn't going to lay down and play dead.

Eminent domain "clarification" most certainly assists pipeline company

Regardless of Republican claims to the contrary:

By striking the phrase “originating in North Carolina” from the state’s eminent domain law, a bill approved by the North Carolina House could remove a key legal obstacle for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Otherwise, the words are “a significant stumbling block,” said eminent domain attorney Jason Campbell.

“I’m not looking for any expansion [of eminent domain authority] here,” said McGrady on the floor of the House. “I’ve heard the argument that we’re trying to promote fracking and promote a natural gas line. I’m just going to stand my ground and say ‘no.’ We’re just trying to clean the language up.”

It looks like BergerMoore is rubbing off on Chuck McGrady, a Republican for whom I have (up until now) held a modicum amount of respect. But I don't believe in coincidences, especially not when powerful corporate interests have hundreds of millions on the line. Lawyers for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are already busy attacking landowners in court, and McGrady's "language-cleaning" efforts will very likely tip the scales in their favor:

Environmental Injustice: Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Give us your land, you poor, huddled masses:

In North Carolina, from a compressor station, built somewhere in these woods of Pleasant Hill, the 36-inch diameter pipeline would continue underground. It would braid itself around I-95, cutting through wetlands, rivers and valuable farmland — even near homes — in seven more counties in eastern North Carolina: Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson. Through communities of color, including former routes of the Underground Railroad, and Native American tribal lands. Through some of the poorest areas in the state.

Bolding mine, because we continue to engage in the same mistakes of 50-60 years ago, by pushing our dirty industrial operations into the poorest of areas. North Carolina is already in trouble with the Federal government (or was until the Dingus-in-Chief took over) for endangering poor African-American communities with CAFOs, but the toxins and catastrophic fire threats associated with NatGas transmission can turn deadly, in the blink of an eye. While economic factors might make this pipeline route the "path of least resistance," that's when government is supposed to step in and balance the scale for these folks. When we abdicate that most simple of responsibilities, we become (much) less of a democracy and more a corporatocracy. And FERC appears to be irreversibly contaminated with that mentality:

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