February 7, 2017 Read More →

U.S. Pipeline Companies ‘Struggle to Contend’ With Populist Uprising

Christopher N. Mathews for the Wall Street Journal:

Pipeline companies are bracing for a new round of volatile protests by environmentalists and other activists in the U.S., a sobering reality that is tempering the industry’s excitement over President Donald Trump’s moves to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects.

Even as they cheer the removal of former President Barack Obama’s regulatory roadblocks, executives at some of the largest U.S. pipeline companies say the industry is struggling with how to confront a potentially bigger obstacle: the reinvigorated protest movement.

Some companies have begun shifting strategies, deploying sophisticated government and public-affairs operations that model modern political campaigns. Others continue to pursue their projects more quietly, seeking approval from landowners and regulators and eschewing conspicuous public engagement.

Energy Transfer Partners LP, the company behind the Dakota Access oil pipeline, is among those engaged in internal debate over its strategy, according to people familiar with the matter.

Whether the Dakota Access protests, and the opposition to Keystone before it, were really a wake-up call for the industry remains to be seen. But they should be, said Brigham McCown, a former official at the Department of Transportation during the George W. Bush Administration who now serves as an adviser to pipeline companies.

Energy firms are bracing for demonstrations after President Trump moved to revive two projects that have caused tension with activists. Shown, protesters against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline blocking a highway last October.

“The landscape has forever changed,” he said. “You’re going to have to convince people why your project is important.”

Full article ($): Pipeline Companies Struggle to Contend with Reinvigorated Protests


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