I can't march but maybe I can help.
In view of ETP’s recent efforts to circumvent the rule of
law by petitioning the presiding judge to disregard President Obama’s
presidential decree, I think it is high time we exercise our rights within the
legal system to defeat their maneuvering.
Americas legal system is termed “Adversarial” with good reason. Two parties with opposing views and goals. Making every argument a Us against Them contest. In any contest it is best to know your opponent, their strengths and weaknesses. So I’ve done some research on the entity behind the DAPL to see who they are and to measure their real strength.
What I’ve found should come as no surprise in view of todays financial climate. ETP/Sunoco is literally living on borrowed time and money. What few real assets are leveraged to the hilt and they are surviving on a small percentage of their cash flow. This is why they are so desperate to complete the DAPL and get that revenue stream flowing. It also makes ETP vulnerable to everything that drives up their cost of doing business. At the moment the cash register is running backwards by virtue of construction delay alone. But they are a very determined group of investors who are used to long battles of a slow bleed of capitol.
Now is the time to bring in the big hurdles they fear the most. Laws and regulations that drive up the cost of doing business to unbearable levels. As it turns out, the groundwork has already been done, the wheels are in motion. The engines pulling our trains? NGPSA and HLPSA, as amended by the PSI Act, the PIPES Act and the 2011 Pipeline Safety Act
But there are a few defects to be reconciled for these Acts to be effective. Namely the penalties to be imposed upon default are ridiculously small, especially in view of the certain environmental impact.
“The 2011 Pipeline Safety Act also increases the maximum penalty for violation of pipeline safety regulations from $100,000 to $200,000 per violation per day and from $1.0 million to $2.0 million for a related series of violations.”
My friends and fellow countrymen, these amounts do not even qualify as a slap on the wrist, much less a deterrent. Fortunately there is current legislation in the works as we speak.
“Moreover, new pipeline safety legislation that would reauthorize the federal pipeline safety programs of PHMSA through 2019 is expected to be under consideration by Congress in 2016. One bill introduced in late 2015, the SAFE PIPES, has already been approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and is now subject to consideration by the U.S. Senate.”
Now it is up to Us to make ourselves heard by our congressmen and state representatives. In the same fashion corporations use lobbyists to state their case, we start with social media and follow through by sending our own lobbyists to directly confront the current congress before they adjourn for the winter. We cannot allow them to brush this aside, leaving the matter for the “next Congress”.
ETP: Energy Transfer Partners SEC Filing record excerpt:
Pipeline integrity programs and related repairs.
Pursuant to authority under the NGPSA and HLPSA, as amended by the PSI Act, the PIPES Act and the 2011 Pipeline Safety Act, PHMSA has established a series of rules requiring pipeline operators to develop and implement integrity management programs for gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines that, in the event of a pipeline leak or rupture, could affect “high consequence areas,” which are areas where a release could have the most significant adverse consequences, including high population areas, certain drinking water sources, and unusually sensitive ecological areas.
These regulations require operators of covered pipelines to:
perform ongoing assessments of pipeline integrity;
identify and characterize applicable threats to pipeline operations that could impact a high consequence area;
improve data collection, integration and analysis;
repair and remediate the pipeline as necessary; and
implement preventive and mitigating actions.
In addition, states have adopted regulations similar to existing PHMSA regulations for intrastate gathering and transmission lines. At this time, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of compliance with applicable pipeline integrity management regulations, as the cost will vary significantly depending on the number and extent of any repairs found to be necessary as a result of the pipeline integrity testing. We will continue our pipeline integrity testing programs to assess and maintain the integrity of our pipelines. The results of these tests could cause us to incur significant and unanticipated capital and operating expenditures for repairs or upgrades deemed necessary to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of our pipelines. Any changes to pipeline safety laws by Congress and regulations by PHMSA that result in more stringent or costly safety standards could have a significant adverse effect on us and similarly situated midstream operators. For instance, changes to regulations governing the safety of gas and hazardous liquid transmission pipelines and gathering lines are being considered by PHMSA, including, for example, revising the definitions of “high consequence areas” and “gathering lines,” and strengthening integrity management requirements as they apply to existing regulated operators and to currently exempt operators should certain exemptions be removed. Most recently, the PHMSA has considered changes to its rural gathering exemption, including publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking relating to hazardous liquid pipelines in October 2015, in which the agency is seeking public comment on, among other things, extending reporting requirements to all gravity and gathering lines, requiring periodic inline integrity assessments of pipelines that are located outside of high consequence areas, and requiring the use of leak detection systems on pipelines in all locations, including outside of high consequence areas.
Federal and state legislative and regulatory initiatives relating to pipeline safety that require the use of new or more stringent safety controls or result in more stringent enforcement of applicable legal requirements could subject us to increased capital costs, operational delays and costs of operation.
The 2011 Pipeline Safety Act is the most recent federal legislation to amend the NGPSA and HLPSA pipeline safety laws, reauthorizing the federal pipeline safety programs of PHMSA through 2015 and requiring increased safety measures for gas and hazardous liquids pipelines. Among other things, the 2011 Pipeline Safety Act directs the Secretary of Transportation to promulgate regulations relating to expanded integrity management requirements, automatic or remote-controlled valve use, excess flow valve use, leak detection system installation, material strength testing, and verification of the maximum allowable pressure of certain pipelines. The 2011 Pipeline Safety Act also increases the maximum penalty for violation of pipeline safety regulations from $100,000 to $200,000 per violation per day and from $1.0 million to $2.0 million for a related series of violations. Moreover, new pipeline safety legislation that would reauthorize the federal pipeline safety programs of PHMSA through 2019 is expected to be under consideration by Congress in 2016. One bill introduced in late 2015, the SAFE PIPES, has already been approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and is now subject to consideration by the U.S. Senate. The safety enhancement requirements and other provisions of the 2011 Pipeline Safety Act as well as any implementation of PHMSA rules thereunder could require us to install new or modified safety controls, pursue additional capital projects, or conduct maintenance programs on an accelerated basis, any or all of which tasks could result in our incurring increased operating costs that could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial position.
The Dirt I uncovered in this single document speaks volumes about the measures corporations take in the name of “Just Business” just read on.
“The adoption of climate change legislation or regulations restricting emissions of greenhouse gases could result in increased operating costs and reduced demand for the services we provide.”
The EPA has determined that emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases present an endangerment to public health and the environment because emissions of such gases are, according to the EPA, contributing to warming of the earth’s atmosphere and other climatic changes. Based on these findings, the EPA has adopted rules under the Clean Air Act that, among other things, establish PSD construction and Title V operating permit reviews for greenhouse gas emissions from certain large stationary sources that already are potential major sources of certain principal, or criteria, pollutant emissions, which reviews could require securing PSD permits at covered facilities emitting greenhouse gases and meeting “best available control technology” standards for those greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the EPA has adopted rules requiring the monitoring and annual reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from specified onshore and offshore production facilities and onshore processing, transmission and storage facilities in the United States, which includes certain of our operations. More recently, on October 22, 2015, the EPA published a final rule that expands the petroleum and natural gas system sources for which annual greenhouse gas emissions reporting is currently required to include greenhouse gas emissions reporting beginning in the 2016 reporting year for certain onshore gathering and boosting systems consisting primarily of gathering pipelines, compressors and process equipment used to perform natural gas compression, dehydration and acid gas removal. While Congress has from time to time considered adopting legislation to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, there has not been significant activity in the form of adopted legislation. In the absence of such federal climate legislation, a number of state and regional efforts have emerged that are aimed at tracking and/or reducing greenhouse gas emissions by means of cap and trade programs. The adoption of any legislation or regulations that requires reporting of greenhouse gases or otherwise restricts emissions of greenhouse gases from our equipment and operations could require us to incur significant added costs to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases or could adversely affect demand for the natural gas and NGLs we gather and process or fractionate. For example, in August 2015, the EPA announced proposed rules, expected to be finalized in 2016, that would establish new controls for methane emissions from certain new, modified or reconstructed equipment and processes in the oil and natural gas source category, including oil and natural gas production and natural gas processing and transmission facilities as part of an overall effort to reduce methane emissions by up to 45 percent from 2012 levels in 2025. On an international level, the United States is one of almost 200 nations that agreed in December 2015 to an international climate change agreement in Paris, France that calls for countries to set their own GHG emissions targets and be transparent about the measures each country will use to achieve its GHG emissions targets.
“The adoption of the Dodd-Frank Act could have an adverse effect on our ability to use derivative instruments to reduce the effect of commodity price, interest rate and other risks associated with our business, resulting in our operations becoming more volatile and our cash flows less predictable.”
Congress has adopted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), a comprehensive financial reform legislation that establishes federal oversight and regulation of the over-the-counter derivatives market and entities, such as us, that participate in that market. This legislation was signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010 and requires the Commodities Futures Training Commission (“CFTC”), the SEC and other regulators to promulgate rules and regulations implementing the new legislation. While certain regulations have been promulgated and are already in effect, the rulemaking and implementation process is still ongoing, and we cannot yet predict the ultimate effect of the rules and regulations on our business.
The Dodd-Frank Act expanded the types of entities that are required to register with the CFTC and the SEC as a result of their activities in the derivatives markets or otherwise become specifically qualified to enter into derivatives contracts. We will be required to assess our activities in the derivatives markets, and to monitor such activities on an ongoing basis, to ascertain and to identify any potential change in our regulatory status.
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements also could significantly increase operating costs and expose us to penalties for non-compliance, and require additional compliance resources. Added public transparency as a result of the reporting rules may also have a negative effect on market liquidity which could also negatively impact commodity prices and our ability to hedge.
Geez…it never seems to end. The duplicity, the corruption disguised as “Corporate Responsibility”
I could probably go on forever but I tire for today, so I’ll sign off.
#GAURDIAN brought to you by Elwood Billshot @Toolnetus