Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bill Huston's preliminary comments on PHMSA rulemaking

Salem, Westmoreland County, PA, 4/29/2016
(photo credit: Noelle Christine/facebook)

These are my comments to the Pipeline Safety Trust Listserv in response to someone's comments about PHMSA's new proposed rulemaking for Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Regulations.

I am preparing these technical comments to PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) on their new proposed rulemaking on natural gas pipeline safety. Comments accepted until July 7th 2016.

I will be submitting my research of 3 years into the MAJOR FLAWS with the Potential Impact Radius Formula, Pipeline Class, and High Consequence Areas (video). (If you want more info on this rulemaking and want to participate: PHMSA has 2 upcoming Webinars concerning these rules, June 28/29. You can also grab AUDIO (listen for my testimony in the last 30 min) and the Slides from the last webinar HERE)

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------------------- Note to PST Listserv follows: ---------------------

on Fri, 24 Jun 2016 23:14:34, RICHARD KUPREWICZ  wrote:
My perspective, PHMSA gets the technical stuff in this NPRM.  People like Steve Nanny have this technical stuff down cold, have done their research, have had many public meetings and discussions, and gathered a lot of data/information to address much misinformation/spin.  I will have little patience for someone trying to mess with their hardworking attempts to improve the safety intent of the regulation.

PHMSA "gets it"?!!!
Oh brother.

Here are the problems as I see with these proposed rules, and I will be
making comments on the rulemaking docket to this effect.

  1. PHMSA rules are already FAR TOO COMPLEX

    The PHMSA rules on pipeline Class (
    49 CFR § 192.5), and HCA's (49 CFR § 192.903) are EXTREMELY, and unnecessarily complex.

    They would send Rube Goldberg into an insane asylum (and damn near sent me there trying to understand them). 

    PHMSA'S rules for Natural Gas Pipeline Safety
    are more complicated than a Rube Goldberg Machine!

    I  dare ANYONE to look at a given pipeline segment and tell me if it is in an High Consequence Area or not, in a finite amount of time. Let alone 300,000 miles of such!!

    These rules DO create a lot of (unnecessary) jobs for surveyors and creators of specialized software.

    (Would be interesting to trace the connections between the people making money off the complexity  of these rules and their authors/sponsors on the Hill)

    THESE RULES MUST BE SIMPLIFIED.

  1. PHMSA is ADDING Complexity with "Moderate Consequence Areas"!

    We already have

    • Four Classes of Pipelines
    • times Two types of "Consequence Areas": HCA's and non-HCAs
    • ...which operators can calculate by two different methods!!!
    • ...and now PHMSA is adding ANOTHER type of "consequence area".

    NO! Adding complexity to the already overly complex code is moving in the wrong direction and completely unacceptable.


  2. "High Consequence Area" definition is a corporate cost-benefit equation, and not scientific tool to ensure safe pipelines.

    PHMSA admits in their fact sheet:

    QUOTE: Pipeline safety regulations use the concept of “High Consequence Areas” (HCAs), to identify specific locales and areas where a release could have the most significant adverse consequences. Once identified, operators are required to devote additional focus, efforts, and analysis in HCAs to ensure the integrity of pipelines. ENDQUOTE [SOURCE]

    In other words, a human life in a rural area is of much lower "consequence" than the lives of 10 people living in a city. This might make sense to a corporate accountant, but it DOES NOT seem right to people in rural areas living within the actual Potential Impact Radius should an accident happen.

    This is nothing more than a corporate cost-benefit equation. It is a political definition, and not a scientific one. It allows operators to cut-corners in every way, from yield strength of the steel and the procedures used when the pipe is put in the ground, to the Integrity Management protocols used as the pipeline ages. 

    It is absolutely criminal to suggest that someone's house could be located 271'ft from FOUR high pressure natural gas pipelines, however the area is not considered of "High Consequence".

    Hey guess what? James Baker's home and life maybe not be of "high consequence" to the operator. And maybe not to PHMSA. But it is of High Consequence to James Baker, and all the people in rural areas living withing the blast radius of nearby pipelines. 

    ANYWHERE within the Potential Impact Radius should be considered an area of High Consequence!

    I want the PHMSA administrator to tell James Baker, from Salem PA that his
    home was not considered a "high consequence area". I think he and his
    bride would disagree.

    A corporate cost-benefit equation is not the same thing as a scientific integrity management plan. THIS MUST BE FIXED!

    This home was not considered of "High Consequence". HEY PHMSA!
    It was to the people who lived there!!! (James Baker's home)

  3. PHMSA's rules Protect Pipeline Profits, NOT human lives

    These rules ARE NOT designed to make pipelines safer.
     
    They are designed to allow pipeline operators to minimize costs,
    AT THE EXPENSE of pipeline safety in rural ares.


    They are a regulatory scheme to allow pipeline operators to do the bare minimum ONLY in densely populated areas. And the complexity gives operators plausible deniability should something go wrong.

    There are a dozen different potential excuses:
     
    • "We were still doing our surveys which take 15 years".
    • "There was a change of pipeline class".
    • "We used method-2 and not method-1 for computing HCA's"
    • etc. etc.

    Again: unacceptable. 

  4. PHMSA rules are Unconstitutional as they violate Equal Protection Clause

    The 14th Amendment establishes that no state actor can deny to any person the Equal Protection of the Law. However this is exactly what PHMSA does!

    The entire notion of Pipeline Class and HCA's are based on the idea that a human life living in a city is worth more than a human life living in a rural area.

    THIS IS NOT SCIENCE
    .
    This is a corporate cost-benefit equation put into place to save operators money.

    I am here advocating for all people living in rural areas within the actual Potential Impact Radius of natural gas pipelines, WHO DESERVE EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW.

    Like James Baker, from Salem PA, who is presently lying in a hospital bed with 3rd and 4th degree burns over 75% of his body. 

    Helen Baker Interview (his mother):
    PHMSA staff, please listen:

    https://archive.org/details/HelenBakerInterview

  5. Pipeline Class is based on a faulty model which under-counts impacted persons

    Pipeline Class definition begins with a count of structures which are 660'ft from the centerline, without regard to pressure or diameter of the pipe.

    However, this is an arbitrary number, picked out of thin air.  Another corporate cost-benefit equation, not based in science.

    Looking at 7 of the top pipeline accidents in US history,  in most cases (except Sissonville, and San Bruno) there were major impacts OUTSIDE 660'ft.

    Thus, the entire concept of pipeline Class beings with a model which undercounts potentially impacted persons.

    I am not suggesting that we try to fix this.
    I am suggesting the entire Unconstitutional model of pipeline class is discarded.

  6. The PIR Formula used by PHMSA BADLY underestimates actual observed impacts.

    The predicted PIR, sometimes by as much as 600'ft, and minor impacts (like melted siding) which exceeded the predicted PIR by 1,500'ft, and an error factor of 3.3x (Salem, PA).

    Here's the data I've been collecting for the last 3 years:
    Table showing original research by the author, William A. Huston.  This is based on examining every major pipeline accident in the last 20 years for which I could obtain the data I needed. The fields in orange are fairly accurate, using online tools and official reports to determine distances. I used a very conservative estimate for additional (minor impact radius) based on the smallest actual number I had (San Bruno). As you can see, IN EVERY CASE the major impacts were observed outside of the predicted PIR using PHMSA's flawed formula. When we include minor impacts, like melted siding, which could produce an insurance claim, we find the predicted PIR is off by a factor of up to 3.3x and over 1,500 feet error.


    The yellow bar indicates the predicted PIR using PHMSA's flawed formula. The orange bar is the actual observed major impact radius. The red bar is the ACTUAL impact radius were even minor impacts were observed, which could produce an insurance claim. As you can see, PHMSA's formula is WAY WRONG and underestimates actual impacts in EVERY CASE!

    Major impact radius, delta between the actual and predicted.
    Just including major impacts (scorched earth, homes destroyed)
    the error is off by as much as 600'ft!

    Including minor impacts, we can see the error between the predicted
    and the actual impact radius is as much as 1,500'ft!!

    The actual observed impact radius including minor impacts which might
    provoke an insurance claim, is off from the predicted PIR by a factor of up to 3.3x!!

  7. PIR formula MUST BE FIXED to represent better idea of impact radius.

    The Impact Radius should be considered the radius just outside where any
    impact might result in an insurance claim, including major structural damage,
    minor structural damage, injury or death.

    Presently, we lack good data on 42" failures. So until we know exactly how things
    scale, I would say the ACTUAL PIR should be considered the value obtained
    by the existing formula used by PHMSA multiplied by 3.5x, since 3.3x is the largest
    error factor I have seen, from Salem PA 4/29/2016).

    Thus:
    IMPROVED PIR = 0.69 * Diameter (inches) * MAOP(psig)^(0.5) * 3.5

  8. PHMSA's faulty assumptions accumulate throughout the Code

    This diagram represents about two full days of analysis of the PHMSA rules
    as they exist today at 49 CFR Part 192.

    The Pink Lines are supposed to indicate where the Code (PHMSA) has
    made a faulty assumption, or an assumption which violates our Constitutional
    Right to Equal Protection of the Law.

    As you can see, the error accumulates.

    THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
    Pipeline Safety Regulations begin with bad assumptions,
    and it gets worse from there.


  9. PHMSA rules are now Self-Referential

    This comment is more of a problem  which only Congress can fix, but
    I will note it hear anyway.

    The Code, a/k/a/ "regulations", (contained in the CFR: Code of Federal Regulations)
    is supposed to be implement the Law, a/k/a statutes, (contined in the USC: United States
    Code). The Code/Regulations is supposed to be subordinate to the Law in all cases.

    But in some cases, now the LAW refers to the CODE!!!


    e.g., the PIPES Act of 2016 which Obama just signed, contains stuff like this:

    "(c) Definition of high consequence area.—In this section, the term
    "high consequence area" has the meaning given the term in section
    192.903 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations."


    https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2276/text

    This:
    1: The Code is enabled by Law,
    2: the Law is now defined by the Code.
    So what we have is now like this:

    WTF: The Code is defined by the Statutes, which is defined by the Code.....

    i.e., insane.  This must be fixed.


  10. PHMSA must eliminate "Inclusion by reference" of industry-written codes

    The definition for "on-shore gathering line" is not defined by any US government
    agency, but instead is defined by the American Petroleum Institution in API-RP80,
    which is included by reference at 49 CFR § 192.8.

    This allows industry to build massive, polluting compressor stations,
    like the 50 acre Williams Central Station in Brooklyn Township, Susquehanna
    County, PA, and the Williams Dunbar Compressor in W. Windsor NY, which
    are CLEARLY used for the interstate transportation of natural gas, and thus
    jurisdictional under the Natural Gas Act, to be built WITHOUT a FERC
    Certificate
    of Public Convenience and Necessity, and without an environmental
    review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

  11. PHMSA must investigate ALL major pipeline accidents and produce a PAR
    including data necessary to calibrate PIR formula


    One problem which has stymied my investigation into pipeline accidents
    is lack of an official report, including basic details and photographs, and
    probable cause.

    Even when a report is generated, the data is reported in such a way
    as to prevent calibration of the PIR formula,

    e.g. in the Sissonville PAR report prepared by NTSB, the major impact
    radius as measured from the point of rupture is absent. What is reported
    is the blast DIAMETER, without regard to the point of impact.

    In addition to reporting where major impacts occur (burned earth, destroyed
    homes), the extent of minor impacts reportable as an insurance claim
    should also be report, e.g., melted siding.
  12. ALL PERSONS living within the Actual Potential Radius using my formula  (Federal PIR x 3.5x) should be notified.This is requested by me, and by Helen Baker, James Baker's mother.

    James and his wife had NO IDEA they lived inside the blast zone of 4x pipelines.
    • For all 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission lines, large, readable signs should be placed marking the "IMPROVED PIR" radius (federal PIR x 3.5x)
      "DANGER: You are entering a potential PIPELINE BLAST ZONE"
    • All persons living within the IMPROVED PIR radius should be notified
      a) in their lease (if renting) or b) in their deed (when purchasing). 
    • All person living within the IMPROVED PIR radius should be compelled to initial a statement indicating "I understand my home and/or property as identified by this supplied map is within a Pipeline Potential Impact Radius".

  13. PHMSA should establish mandatory setbacksPHMSA should not allow new construction of homes, schools, playgrounds, or other human occupied structures, or highways to be constructed within the Major Impact Radius UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Legacy situations need to be marked with appropriate signage and owners, leasees notified by letter.

That's all I have for now.

BH
Binghamton NY


--
--
May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

FOIL response / NYSDEC / i3 Electronics Endicott SPDES permit / Landfill Leachate Dumping Susquehanna River



For those who are interested in Clean Water
in Broome County NY and downstream:
Here are documents obtained via FOIL from NYS DEC 
regarding the "legal" dumping of
80,000 gallons per day / 1.7 Million gallons per month 

of toxic landfill leachate into the Susquehanna River at Endicott. 

********** 
DEC FOIL'd documents are here.

**********


LATEST NEWS: We have heard from NYSDEC that this will be "public noticed" from Region 7 near the end of June, and there will follow a 30 day comment period. This is not much time. If you can, please look over these documents to assist your knowledge. We need people to make testimony OPPOSING this permit application.

We've just heard that NY State Assembly member Donna Lupardo is joining members of the Western Broome Stakeholders Coalition, NY Friends of Clean Air and Water, and the local chapter of the Sierra Club in asking DEC for a PUBLIC HEARING on this SPDES permit.

Please follow WBESC or NY Friends of Clean Air and Water facebook page for updates.

Please share on any list which may be interested in Clean Water in Broome County and points south.

**********
Click Here for DEC FOIL'd documents
(i3 Electronics SPDES Permit Application)


(this is what you are looking for)
 **********




CALL FOR DONATIONS!

If you appreciate the work that I do, I could really use donations now!! 

 I have a short term need for ~$400 for living expenses which will help me continue this work. Even small donations help.

Here's what I've been working on:
HOW TO MAKE A DONATION:
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BH

Friday, June 17, 2016

Gasoline pipeline construction in Vestal -- will disturb 7,119 sq.ft. wetland

Please forgive the cross post.

HEADS UP.
Just spotted this here.
http://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/20160615_reg7.html#703480015500003

Will disturb 7,119 square feet of wetlands, but
No SEQR review because it's a Type II action.  
Here's a system map in the NE.

This pipeline starts at refineries in Phila.,
and sends refined products (gas, diesel, jet fuel)
into NY.




There is a large storage facility and terminal
in Vestal behind Lowe's. GPS: 42.101109, -76.002701




I've just FOIL'd the application and the permit.
Please do so also if you are interested.
Comment period only until June 30.

Here is how to make a DEC FOIL.
You need to register for an account.
(Free, takes a few minutes).

LET'S DEMAND AN EXTENSION OF TIME
so this can be reviewed.

ENB Region 7 Completed Applications 06/15/2016

Broome County

Applicant:

Buckeye Pipe Line Co LP
5002 Buckeye Rd
PO Box 368
Emmaus, PA 18049 -0368

Facility:

Buckeye Pipeline - FWW E-4
St Rte 434 & St Rte 26
Vestal, NY 13850

Application ID:

7-0348-00155/00003

Permit(s) Applied for:

Article 24 Freshwater Wetlands
Section 401 - Clean Water Act Water Quality Certification

Project is Located:

Vestal, Broome County

Project Description:

The applicant proposes to disturb NYS Freshwater Wetland E-4, Class 2, for routine maintenance on an existing pipeline, which will require excavation of the area in and around the pipeline. The proposed project will temporarily impact approximately 7,119 square feet (0.163 acres) of wetland, and 7,881 square feet (0.181 acres) of the 100 foot adjacent area. The project is located on the parcel northeast of the intersection of State Route 26 and Vestal Parkway East, in the Town of Vestal.

Availability of Application Documents:

Filed application documents, and Department draft permits where applicable, are available for inspection during normal business hours at the address of the contact person. To ensure timely service at the time of inspection, it is recommended that an appointment be made with the contact person.

State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Determination:

Project is not subject to SEQR because it is a Type II action.

SEQR Lead Agency: None Designated

State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA) Determination:

The proposed activity is not subject to review in accordance with SHPA. The application type is exempt and/or the project involves the continuation of an existing operational activity.

Coastal Management:

This project is not located in a Coastal Management area and is not subject to the Waterfront Revitalization and Coastal Resources Act.

Opportunity for Public Comment:

Comments on this project must be submitted in writing to the Contact Person no later than Jun 30, 2016.

Contact:

Trendon P Choe
NYSDEC Region 7 Cortland Sub-Office
1285 Fisher Ave
Cortland, NY 13045
(607)753-3095
DEP.R7@dec.ny.gov



--
--
May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Actual screenshots from FOIL "response" from NYS DEC for i3 SPDES permit

This is not about fracking, directly. But it does have to do with threats to clean water, specifically, anyone who lives downstream of Endicott along the Susquehanna River (Vestal, Appalachin, Owego, Nichols, Waverly, Sayre/Athens PA, and points south)

I did a FOIL with the NYS DEC for i3 Electronics' (IBM successor in Endicott) application for a SPDES permit renewal.

SPDES=State Pollution Discharge Elimination System.
This is a state-administered permit authorized by by Federal Law: the Clean Water Act.

Even the name is PSYOPS:
"State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System"

What is it? The DEC says this:

The SPDES program is designed to eliminate the pollution of New York waters and to maintain the highest quality of water possible....

Source: http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6054.html

Bullshit. It has nothing to do with eliminating pollution.
IT IS A PERMIT TO POLLUTE!

The only thing it does (allegedly) is to measure and regulate the amounts of pollutants going into the river to meet "Clean Water Standards". 

But as you will see, it does a REALLY LOUSY job at this. I am doing a series of videos about what is happening in Endicott and will be digging deep into the SPDES program using i3's permit as a case study.

Here are the first two:

What Stinks in Endicott?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoePWyWVKXk

Who put the Stink in my Drink?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCg9vu-O0ks

So here's the thing. The document they sent me in "response" to my foil:

1) was a really bad B/W scan of a paper printout.
2) was 22 MB!!
3) Does NOT contain searchable text
4) and the illustrations are unreadable. See for yourself (attached screenshots).

On the first page of the application it is clearly stated that the applicant sent a paper copy as well as an electronic PDF.

Now here's the thing: DID DEC make their decision on the permit based on this crappy, not searchable, illegible document? IF SO, THIS IS A PROBLEM.

Or does DEC just send to the public a REALLY CRAP version so we can't figure out what is going on? THIS IS ALSO A PROBLEM.

This would be really funny if we weren't talking about dumping millions of gallons of toxins into the Susquehanna River every month.

I am appealing this FOIL request.

I've just heard the permit is complete, and will be "public noticed" shortly. There will be a followup meeting, and HOPEFULLY a public hearing.

More on this shortly....

Please follow NY Friends of Clean Air and Water, and also WBESC on Facebook to keep up to date. .
--
--
May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Incredible testimony calling for greater pipeline safety: Helen Baker, mother of James (Salem PA)




"People have no idea what they are living near."
       -- Helen Baker

Here is my heart-wrenching interview with Helen Baker,
mother of James Baker
, recorded yesterday, whose home
was destroyed in the Salem Township, Westmoreland County PA incident
on April 29th.


Be prepared-- some of these details are disturbing.

Helen describes exactly what happened to James (frightening),
his present condition (he has suffered some amputations, and skin
grafts... a long road ahead), the response of the community (fantastic),
and the response of Spectra Energy (absolute deafening silence).


James and his wife had no idea they were living in an HCA:

(High Consequence Area) just 271'ft from FOUR high-pressure
natural gas pipelines, and also an extraction well for the whopping
~130 BCF* Dominion/Spectra Oakford Storage complex.

(* Source:
http://old.post-gazette.com/healthscience/19990322gas2.asp)

Remember Porter Ranch / Aliso Canyon?


This storage field (Oakford Storage in Westmoreland County PA) is about
the same size as
the Dawn Storage  in S. Ontario between Niagara Falls
and Detroit, that is, It is in the top 5 largest in North America.

It's also about the same size as
he storage field in Aliso Canyon/Porter Ranch
which leaked raw methane and
methyl mercaptan into the atmosphere
for 4 months.




Can you imagine if it had caught fire and exploded?


We may have gotten a glimpse of what could have looked like in Salem PA.
Because there is something VERY strange about this incident.
By my calculation, the flames were 2,500'ft high, ~1/2 mile!

The observed 
impact radius in Salem exceeded 2,200'ft, which is more
than 3.3x larger than the Potential Impact Radius predicted by
the formula used
by PHMSA. (671'ft).

I have looked at a lot of pipeline accidents, and I am used to actual
impacts being worse than predicted... but Salem was OFF THE CHARTS.
I have never seen anything close to something this big.

I will have more coming very soon, but for now, listen to
Helen's powerful testimony. This will be useful to anyone
fighting to end natural gas infrastructure, or just improve their safety.

More info:

My facebook album -- 6 weeks of solid research:
https://www.facebook.com/billhuston/media_set?set=a.10208436115357131.1073741862.1133803981&type=3

(major update coming soon -- some of the data is WORSE
than first reported based on new information)
Major Video Release Coming....

A major video revealing my findings is coming very soon.
Be prepared to be shocked and blown away by what I have found ....
I have only hinted at things here.

Please feel free to share this with other groups working on
pipelines, or groups in SW PA.

Thanks,
BH

PS: I do this work in the public service as an unpaid volunteer,
and rely upon donations to keep this going. Now is a great time
to donate!

Instruction on how to donate is at the end of this:

Thanks,
BH

--
--
May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Calling "Racism" what it really is: Hatred



Some of the top "leaders" of the Greens, Progressives, Climate Warriors, Pipeline Fighters are still attacking me, unfriending me, censoring me, & trying to get me banned from groups because they accuse me of "racism". NOTHING COULD BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

At best they accuse me of having "blind spots" regarding race
. They say I "don't listen" and the "people have tried to explain this" to me. This come across like arrogance to me, because I feel they are not listening to my perspective which I admit is unique.

Here I will try to explain my views in this highly charged subject. I hope some of the people who have been involved in attacking, banishing, or censoring me because of these views will read this and reconsider.

(Issac Silberman-Gorn, Kevin Zeese,  Ted Glick, Jimmy Betts, Nick Katkevich, Margaret Flowers, Alex Lotorto, Faith Meckley, others at #BXE, etc)

Let's begin with the language. 


I do not like the inaccurate word "racism", because race does not exist (in a biological sense).

OK, YES ---> there are people who hate other people based on skin color, religion, national origin, gender, gender preference, gender identity, and many other reasons.

But if we being with describing the problem in terms of a fiction, and then build from that, we are likely to get very confused.

Construction using Fictional Bricks

My analogy is this presentation by Nassim Haramein. Start at 6m and watch for about 3 min:



Nassim talks about how traditional Western Geometry starts with a fiction of a point. Then, builds on that to create fiction of a line. Then, builds from that to form a fiction of a plane. Then from there, we get 3D space... which is REAL!

Nassim's greater presentation talks about many problems with traditional physics, and he traces it all back to this.

IMO, there is VERY MUCH CONFUSION about the police violence, who is affected, what the problem really is and how it can be cured. Also the related politics of "race".

The Epidemic of Police Killing Blacks

We have been inundated with press stories for years about the "epidemic" of police violence against black people, mostly men, beaten or killed in cold blood and without trial.

I admit and agree that many such cases have been shown on the news. I can name probably a dozen just off the top of my head:

Rodney King, Amadou Diallo,  Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell,  Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Emmett Till, Sandra Bland..... many others.

These are real people. YES: Their Lives Matter. Please do not misunderstand me. This is a HUGE PROBLEM! And I want to help solve it.

TWICE as many Whites are killed in cold blood, without trial than blacks!

But statistics are a funny thing. There are many ways to look at a dataset. Yes, a compelling argument can be made that there is an epidemic of police killing blacks if you look at death-by-cop rates according

But a similar argument could be made about police killing whites. If you look at the raw data, more than 2x the number of whites are killed each year in the US than blacks. Numbers do not lie.

The best authority I could find online about this data is The Counted project, run by The Guardian Newspaper. I obtained the latest date for the last 18 months and made these graphs:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database
 

So do the police kill more whites, or blacks?
That depends on how you graph the data.

While I can name a dozen black men and a woman who were killed by police, I cannot tell you the name of one white person who would executed in cold blood by police. Is this a problem? Should the press "say their names" too? Do their lives matter?
And EVEN IF the number of whites and blacks killed by police perfectly match population rates, does this mean there is no problem?

At what point do we start looking at the problem (and for solutions) of police summarily killing citizens in cold blood and without trial without regard to the color of skin of the victim?

Racial Profiling

One example of this is so-called "racial profiling". The premise is that police begin by detaining people based on the color of their skin or perceived ethnicity. Even progressive news outlets like Democracy Now w/Amy Goodman buy into this framing. Their first story on this was in 1998, nearly a decade ago.

But clearly this is not JUST a problem with skin color and ethnicity, as there are many people (myself included) who have suffered violence at the hands of the police.

The accusation of "racial profiling" is a fiction, because race itself is a fiction. The accusation of "racial profiling" can never be proven (or disproven).

When the police begin to accept that such a charge MIGHT be real, then they get very very confused, and start proposing remedies, as what happened with the "Binghamton Human Rights Commission", which proposed the government "ensure police keep track of the demographics of residents they stop".

"Binghamton Human Rights Commission"

When we are looking into the appropriateness of a police action, and we focus on race, by defining the problem in terms of race, we might be inclined to think the solution has something to do with race.

This is exactly what happened with the so-called "Binghamton Human Rights Commission". Their goal was to pass a local law which would "Ban racial profiling by Binghamton police".

First Problem: NO ONE seems to be able to define what "racial profiling" is! If racial profiling exists, then there should be an objective test or measure for when a particular detention happens, whether it was an example of "racial profiling" or not.

However no such test exists ... OR CAN EXIST! It's like going to a scientist and asking her to create an instrument to prove what someone's favorite movie is. That is absurd. She would laugh at you and fall off her chair.

This is because there can be no objective measurement or proof of someone's preference. You can change you preference on a whim, at an time.

So... if we can't prove that racial profiling even exists, how can we then determine whether a police action is justified?

The Fourth Amendment Defines Proper Police Actions

If you objectively try to ask, "what are the requirements of a proper police action", this inquiry leads you to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. It is here we find that the requirements are
  • There must be a real victim with a real injury.
    ("Victimless crimes" are not really crimes. Remember this scene from Monty Python?)


    (Video: An accusation of a crime where there doesn't appear to be a victim)

  • There must be a complaint from a civilian (making "oath or affirmation").
    That is, the complaint cannot come from the government itself.
  • There must be some connection between the accused and the victim's injury. ("Probable Cause").
 There you have it in a nutshell. Notice there is nothing about hue mentioned in the Fourth Amendment.

In other words, either there IS probable cause, or there is not. SIMPLE!

This is an objective definition which can be applied in every case. If there is ANYONE who's rights are being violated by the police, then THIS IS A PROBLEM. I do not see how the skin color of the victim is relevant. I care about ALL VICTIMS of police violence, no matter what their hue.


If anyone's rights are violated, this is a problem!

I made this meme to explain this point after a conversation I had with my friend David Braun. I hope David has thick enough skin that he can see the humor in this, and doesn't mind too much that I am using him as an example!!


A problem of inclusion.

I want to work on solutions which will help ALL victims of police violence! This is a little hard when all we are told is that "Black Lives Matter", and that I, being born white, and having "white privilege", I am thus the enemy.

(But I though the color of the oppressor here was BLUE?)


My experience with #BXE

I was banned from the Beyond Extreme Energy #BXE listserve about a year ago. Why? Because someone (whom I believe was Jimmy Betts) was posting photos to the BXE Facebook page of "Black Lives Matters" protestors in California who had shut down a highway.


I asked, "What does this have to do with fighting pipelines?"
and, "Can we please stay on-topic?"


Almost everyone on the #BXE listserv attacked me, called me racist, and said this had already been decided that they would support the Black Lives Matter movement.


I said, "This is not a way to build a winning movement. We need everyone included to fight these pipelines. This is called the Big Tent approach to organizing. (h/t Adam Flint).



The more we engage in off-topic discussions or show support for unrelated causes, the more we make the Big Tent SMALLER.

I was on a BXE call with someone from Ohio who was uncomfortable with BXE pushing a climate change agenda. I personally believe in climate change, and think it is our greatest threat humanity has ever faced.


But the fact remains, that there are people who do not believe in human-caused climate change. Should we require belief in climate change as a litmus test to help BXE fight pipelines?

No of course not. We need everyone included. 

"Black Lives Matters" is confronting a very important social issue. But it is a controversial group, in their framing and their tactics. I discuss the problems I have with this framing elsewhere in this essay. And there are many important issues of the day: GMO's, Animal Rights, Free Trade Agreements, Flouride, Charter Schools, Vaccines, etc., ... none of which have anything (directly) to do with pipelines! 

Doesn't it make sense to restrict the focus of a group called "Beyond Extreme Energy", which is ostensibly focused on fighting fossil fuel infrastructure,  to... um, I dunno, how about "getting beyond extreme energy", and thus stay on-topic?


This is what I asked. After a very short discussion, they banned me! These are some of our great progressive leaders of our day (allegedly). Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Ted Glick.

Our great leaders refused to discuss my concern, dismissed them utterly, refused to allow me to participate in the decision-making process, and now refuse to allow me to participate in #BXE actions by banning me from their listserv. WTF.

Why? Because I asked them to stay on-topic?
Because I refused to agree to their demand that I accept the biological theory or race?

That is ridiculous.

Divide and Conquer 

If you study the history of successful social movements, you will find they are often infultrated by members of the government, the police, FBI, spy agencies, or by industry representatives, and their leadership is replaced, marginalized, attacked, or neutralized, and the ranks divided.

I have never seen any issue which has so divided our (so far) very successful climate movement, than race.

Are these people shouting racism, banning people like me from groups and lists, and from participation, because they do not agree to support their divisive ideas about racism, are they agent provocateurs. sent to infiltrate our groups, divide and conqueror, and neutralize our effectiveness?

They might as well be working for industry.

Please Read this:

Note Well: I AM NOT DENYING that dark-skinned people have suffered worse in the jails and the criminal justice system. (although many people accuse me of this). I have been to jail and I have seen with my own eyes that the prison population is disproportionally people-of-color.

I am only saying that this is a statistical phenomena only. Skin color is not the root cause to be looking for, nor has anything to do with the remedy.

The Law should be Colorblind.

Skin color is (and should be) completely irrelevant to the application of law. There is not a special law for whites, and a special law for blacks. The law does not recognize special rights based on skin color.  Nor does the law recognize special remedies based on skin color. The law IS and should be colorblind.

Using imprecise language leads to confusion.

I believe the source of this confusion begins with the language we use.

(I have written a lot about how the English word "Love" is pure confusion.
I try to avoid using that word for this reason).

So you all are free to use whatever language you'd like. My objective is to reduce the violence in the world, and this IMO requires use of clear language.

My goal is to reduce or eliminate violence.

One example I see of this problem:

IF we define the real underlying problem behind "racism" as really being hatred, we can see that MANY people who are most vocal accusing people/institutions of "racism" are really themselves filled with hatred.

"Racism" is a problem which can not be solved.

If we ask "how do we solve the problem of Pink Elephants?"
This is a little hard to answer, because Pink Elephants do not exist!

Again: the frame of racism is based the fiction of race.
We cannot solve a fictitious problem!
The best thing we can do is eliminate the fiction with truth
and clarity of language.

Step one: 
Let us begin to ELIMINATE the terms race and racism from our language,
which are based on fictions. 

Yes skin color exists, and so does hatred.
We cannot change someone's skin color. So are we stuck?
No, because the REAL ROOT CAUSE, hatred, CAN BE CHANGED!

Step two:
Let us recognize that we cannot change our skin color, or that of others. 
What we CAN CHANGE is our attitudes about such.  
OK, How do we solve hatred?

OK so here's where we stand:

The "racist" whites hate dark-skinned people.
The people shouting "Racism!" (of all colors) hate the light skinned racists who hate the blacks.

Let's see, what happens if we add Hatred + Hatred = ???
Answer: we get just more of the same.

I do not see this as any improvement in the situation if our goal is to reduce or eliminate hatred (which the precursor to violence).

We must confront the seeds of hatred
first within our own hearts and minds.


If we use imprecise language (calling hatred "racism", when race itself does not exist) then the people shouting "RACISM!" may never see or confront the hatred in their own hearts, which not only is not improving things, but making the wound deeper, the separation wider.

My strong belief, motivated by my study and practice of Yoga and Buddhism, is that the CURE / SOLUTION for what we call "Racism" (which is really hatred), is COMPASSION.

Compassion naturally flows from a VISION of all the world's people, of many different hues, religions, genders, etc. as being ALL ONE RACE: Human.

From this cultivated vision of oneness, flows compassion, which is the cure for hatred.

Step three: Cultivate a vision that we are all one HUMAN RACE!
Step four: Practice Compassion for all

I hope this is helpful.

(h/t to Joe Golowka. My conversation with him provoked this)

--
--
May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Salem Twp, Westmoreland Twp PA pipeline explosion investigation / Executive Summary

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Salem Twp, Westmoreland Twp PA pipeline explosion investigation /
Executive Summary:

For the last 10 days I've been obsessed by researching the TETCO (Spectra) pipeline
explosion in Westmoreland County PA. 


I have uncovered some amazing things which you won't read anywhere else, including:
  1. TETCO lost all records to 750 facilities (pipe segments, M+R stations, etc)
    in a flood caused by Hurricane Allison in 2000. They asked FERC to abandon
    these facilities, which FERC granted a special exception for. (Normally they
    require documentation of these).
  2. There is a high likelihood that this pipeline was not running pure methane, but was
    transporting Wet Gas, which burns hotter.
  3. This pipeline was being operated to within 98.9% of the Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP)
    which leaves no margin for error in case of a pressure surge. (see below)
  4. There was some involvement of a storage well, which may have contributed fuel to the fire.
  5. By one metric (Delta in Feet, Observed Impact Radius - Predicted PIR), this was
    (perhaps) the worst pipeline accident in US History.  (At least the worst I have seen).




    (The observed burn radius was a whopping 650'ft beyond the predicted "Potential Impact Radius")

  6. There is a larger story of untangling the extremely complex PHMSA rules regarding
    pipeline Class, High Consequence Areas, and Potential Impact Radius.
    Summary: PHMSA is NOT taking public safety into account. It's really bad
    once you understand it all.
    (see my graphic: "Following the Tainted Trail")

  7. Corrosion found may have as a contributing factor flaws in Cathodic Protection due
    to 4 pipeline segments in the same ROW.




    This is very tricky to  get right and is indicated in severe corrosion of the Keystone-1 Pipeline in
    St. Charles County MO in Oct 2012, as written about by Julie Dermansky in Desmogblog.

    (You have to dig into some of the attachments to find the mention of "stray DC currents" as a probable
    cause, and the connection to Cathodic Protection).
  8. Any root cause analysis must examine many possible contributing factors.
    There is a very easy scenario which could be a primary factor: Human Error.

    One of the 4 parallel lines was under maintenance. If a worker closed the wrong
    valve by accident (for example if he lacked records of the interconnects), this could
    have caused a pressure surge which could have caused the weakest link to fail.
Here is my results so far. It's still a Work in Progress, but I'm working to compile this
into a single PDF, and I will also probably make a short video about my findings.


Please contribute to my work:
I always have found it challenging to work a day-job
and continue with my public service work.
My present goal is to raise $600, but If I could
raise $1,000 it would really help me continue this work.



Did you ever attend a church where the minister passes
the collection plate BEFORE the service?

Where's the faith in that!?
I like to raise funds for projects I've already completed.
Here's my goal:
  • $200 for my video of the COP-21 debrief.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oitzv8pDjHw
  • $200 for my on-going investigation to the TETCO/Spectra failure in Salem, Westmoreland Twp. PA.
  • $200 for my on-going work on the "What Stinks in Endicott" project,
    tracing the dumping of Landfill Leachate from Seneca Meadows.

    My new video, "Who put the Stink in my Drink" got 2,000 views
    in a single week!! My most viral ever:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCg9vu-O0ks
    (I have been researching this for 3 years, so $200 is VERY cheap!)

I have several projects in the queue:
  • Richard Wolff speaking in Ithaca
  • Cris McConkey Memorial
  • Some others which I can't talk about ... yet!

Option 1: Use Paypal:

Please visit my blog:
and look for the Paypal Donate button which looks like this:

Paypal Donate

Please help support my public-interest research, video work. Thanks!



Make sure you see this at the top:

Option 2: Snail Mail:

Make checks payable to: William Huston
Send to:
William Huston, c/o O2E-TV
PO Box 2873, Binghamton NY 13902.
Easiest is probably Paypal, but they do take fees.
Any amount helps!
Thanks!
--
--
May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Salem Township Explosion of TETCO (Spectra) Pipeline.

NOTE-- THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS -- PLEASE CHECK BACK for FINAL REPORT.


Presently, a more complete commentary exists on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/billhuston/media_set?set=a.10208436115357131.1073741862.1133803981


I've been digging into the 4-29-2016 Spectra/Texas Eastern Transmission (a/k/a TET, TETC, TETLLP, TE, or TETCO). failure this past week. This was one of the top 5 worst pipeline accidents US History in terms of impact radius. Here is a photo album with my results so far. Scan though all the photos in this album.

SUMMARY OF MY FINDINGS:
Here are the factors I think contributed to the failure and the severity of the impacts:

1) I believe the root cause will be found to be due to corrosion caused by stray DC currents caused by imbalances or errors or interference in Cathodic Protection systems of the 4 different pipes in the ROW. This is extremely tricky to get right, and is almost certainly the cause of the severe corrosion and near-failure of the Keystone-1 pipeline west of St. Louis (Julie Dermansky reported on this for DeSmogBlog).

2) It took 1 hour for the TETCO workers to close all the right valves. This contributed to a long burn.

3) There were 4 segments all interconnected. This means even after they found and closed the right valves, all of that gas upstream and downstream to the nearest block valves had to drain out and burn. I haven't seen official reports about duration, but I'm guessing the fire burned for at least 4 hours, till noon or so. This really made the impacts much worse than if they could have isolated the fault in a *single* segment.

4) Part of the problem is the loss of records about the pipeline. TETCO went to FERC in 2013 to abandon some or all of 750(!!) facilities which they had lost track of, as they lost all of their records after a flood in 2001 (Tropical Storm Allison).

5) The official PHMSA report reveals that one of the four parallel and interconnected lines in the same ROW was taken out of service a week before the accident, was blown down and under maintenance. What are the odds that a maintenance worker accidentally closed an incorrect valve on a pipeline which is already charged to 98.9% of MAOP, because he lacked proper records? What happens to the pressure in that segment? Hmmm....

6) The pipeline may have been carrying > 12% ethane, which is more explosive, due to a special waiver issued by PHMSA.

7) The MAOP of the pipeline should have been lowered in 2006 due to a change in Class caused by an increase in the number of human-occupied structures within 220 yards (660'ft) of the centerline. PHMSA languished on the request (allowing them to operate at unsafe pressures) until 2009, when they granted a waiver!!

8) When the pipeline ruptured, it was operating at 98.9% of MAOP. This is what happened when San Bruno popped. The problem operating so close to MAOP is that there can be pressure fluctuations caused by physics of gas transmission (or human accidents). Suddenly, there can be a surge (like of someone closes a block valve on a pressurized segment.)



9) There appears to be some involvement of a storage well, part of the Oakford system.

I'm sure there is more but this is what I've found so far.

All images in this series are (C) 2016 WilliamAHuston@gmail.com Share-By CC-BY-NC - All other rights reserved