That Uncomfortable Moment When The Pipeline Boogeyman Fails To Perform

A couple of weeks back I wrote about the shifting focus of anti-fossil fuel conflict groups in their efforts to impede the nation’s energy development in various parts of the country.  That focus, which since about 2008 had centered on the boogeyman “fracking”, has now shifted to a new, midstream boogeyman in the form of pipelines.

When conflict groups have identified a good boogeyman, they flaunt it at every opportunity, and it becomes a rationale for them and their supporting web-based media outlets for stopping whatever other activities they want to stop. Of course, what they really want to stop is all development of fossil fuels.  Thus, over the last decade, we have seen minor spills of returned fluids from hydraulic fracturing jobs blown up into a reason to halt all drilling in a given basin or state.  Now, we see the same dynamic at work, in which even the smallest event that can (at least seemingly) be attributed to a pipeline forms the rationale for halting all activity in an entire region.

That previous piece focused on an incident involving a natural gas pipeline leak in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, which is operated by Hilcorp, and the manner in which Hilcorp’s efforts to coordinate with regulators to address the issue were distorted by one of those web-based media groups, EcoWatch.  Repairs to that pipeline are underway, with no discernible impacts to surrounding wildlife or the environment, but it placed Hilcorp on these groups’ radar as a target for exploitation.

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