Social Justice For Pipelines?

I read recently where more government agencies have rationalized getting involved in determining transmission energy pipeline routes. Apparently, there is a perception that pipelines often go through more impoverished areas and in today’s politically-correct charged culture, that just cannot be allowed to happen without further investigation and, of course, construction delays. After all, this is the 21st century where private business is under siege. Why should pipeline construction be any different?

It’s about time those greedy pipeline people, like their even-greedier brethren the energy companies, be stopped from their reckless and relentless pillage and plundering of the American countryside. God forbid that Farmer Fred, Bessie the cow, Harry the horse or the rare desert turtle twins, Speedy and Lightning, should be placed in grave danger from a buried steel pipeline just because they live in rural America and not the affluent suburbs.

And shame on the pipeliners for failing to quadruple their costs by not trying to secure right-of-ways in highly populous areas, indirect routes or even down the middle of Main Street USA.

Are you kidding me? Do politicians have no shame? Does common sense mean nothing anymore? This unquestionably crosses the line between fairness and lunacy. Anyone with a lick of business sense knows you try to avoid needlessly running up controllable costs. Pipelines are designed to be constructed in the most efficient and straightforward manner possible. The more road crossings, river and creek crossings that can be avoided, the better. Circumventing small towns or big cities is generally very desirable to avoid excessive tearing up of streets and yards (costly to replace), plus it is much more difficult to obtain right-of-way permission.

When it is necessary to go through urban areas, it is only logical to minimize your route miles by going for the cheapest, least disruptive locations as possible. That generally means trying to avoid million-dollar homes. Not because the people are rich, but because obtaining right-of-way is much more complicated and generally not practical to obtain – in short, the people don’t need the money. Other middle-class locations generally find people more interested in receiving an unexpected financial windfall. And it’s not as if the yards are left with nothing but piled dirt and open pits so that playing children could be injured. Rather, yards are restored to pristine, if not even better, condition.

The risk factor from underground buried pipelines is practically nonexistent. Yes, there have been accidents in the past, but most are caused by third-party accidents and are falling in frequency. Overall, pipeline safety records are the envy of other industries. You are in more danger simply walking down the street next to automobile traffic than you are having a pipeline running down the alley.

And don’t forget that in rural areas, Farmer Fred likes the money as well, plus his livestock and wildlife rarely even know there is a pipeline located somewhere on the west 40 acres. Bessie and Harry and the turtle twins can rest assured they are not being placed in extreme danger.

Unfortunately, there are people that live in poverty or low-income housing projects. It’s no secret that there are instances where pipelines have been constructed near low-income areas. But odds are the pipelines were routed that way due to the efficiency of course design and availability of land. That’s strictly a design and business decision, not a calculated reflection of a biased decision-making matrix by upper-level pipeline executives. Management wants nothing less than construction of their pipeline in the most cost-effective manner possible. Sometimes that means going through low-income areas; sometimes that means going through affluent areas. What it doesn’t mean is intentional social discrimination.

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