Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Parts of US Pipeline Safety Regulations are Written By Industry and are Copyrighted Intellectual Property!

Secret laws written by Industry?
Yep! Welcome to "America, Inc!" 

This may be of interest to people working on Pipeline Safety issues.

Bottom line:

The Oil and Gas industry are basically writing the regulations
which govern their operations.

And these regulations are TRADE SECRETS and
generally inaccessible to the public!


Regulatory agencies like US DOT and PHMSA
(US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration)

create regulations which are detailed implementations
of the law passed
by the legislature.

Regulations generally have the force of law.

One problem-- major sections of the regulations governing
pipeline safety are created by *the industry themselves*,
and are "incorporated by reference" into the law.

Only problem is, this part of the law is basically a trade
secret, and not generally publicly accessible!

e.g., Here are the API documents which are Incorporated by Reference:
Notice: you cannot browse anonymously. You have to obtain a special login,
and then the documents can be browsed only,
cannot be downloaded, and searching is impossible.


This is only a small part of a larger story:
How industry avoids regulation by the legislature:

It works like this:
  • There is some catastrophe affecting this industry. (e.g., an explosion,
    fire, toxic chemical spill, workplace accident, or other Public Relations problem)

  • The catastrophe causes ill will and negative public perceptions
    of the company in particular, and the industry as a whole.

  • Congress holds hearings for fact finding. (Usually preceeds writing legislation)

  • Industry, fearing regulation proposes VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE with BEST PRACTICES,
    which are actually created by the industry themselves.
This scam is an old one:
  • In 1887 (the year after corporations were granted personhood by the Supreme Court),
    the Interstate Commerce Commission is formed in response to widespread
    abuses by the powerful railroads. This federal commission was created with the
    blessings of industry, in order to avoid direct regulation by Congress:
    The Interstate Commerce Commission was created in 1887 to forestall the serious Populist
    challenge from workers and farmers to the abusive power of railroads. President Cleveland's
    Attorney General explained to nervous railroad corporation executives that the ICC was to be
    "a sort of barrier between the railroad corporations and the people." And Charles F. Adams,
    later president of the Union Pacific Railroad Corporation, wrote about the regulatory solution
    to the Populist threat: "What is desired is something having a good sound, but quite harmless,
    which will impress the popular mind with the idea that a great deal is being done, when, in reality,
    very little is intended to be done." -- "THE IMPACT OF CORPORATIONS ON THE COMMONS",
    by Mary Zepernick (POCLAD), "By What Authority" Spring 2005. 

  • This successful public relations scam was repeated by...


This old scam is being used by industry, including the Oil and Gas industry:
  • Use "voluntary consensus standards" which the industry writes themselves
    via trade organizations
  • Avoids regulation by Congress
  • Avoids transparency by making PUBLIC LAW "intellectual property" and inaccessible to the public.


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

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