Social Justice For Pipelines?

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | September 2010 Vol. 65 No. 9

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.