Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ALEC connection? Industry-written "standards" incorporated into state laws+regulations?

Due to the work of Bill Moyers and the Center for Media and Democracy,
many people by now have heard about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

NUTSHELL: ALEC is a group of businessmen and legislators who
write business-friendly laws behind closed doors
Many state and federal laws were ALEC bills.

Here's something I have uncovered which seems very related to ALEC:

I have found two instances now where regulations which govern
the Oil and Gas industry
are written by the industry themselves,
by way of "industry standards organizations", which create
standards documents which are then incorporated-by-reference
into the regs.

I previously wrote about this here:
Interesting facts about these documents:
  • Written and controlled solely by industry,
    without any government oversight
  • Copyrighted, intellectual property,
    not subject to FOIL or Sunshine Laws
  • Difficult or impossible for the public to inspect.

  • Internet versions cannot be
    • browsed anonymously.
    • saved, or downloaded,
    • printed, or searched

Example 1:
I live in upstate NY, and for 5 years we've been fighting the encroachment of
the gas industry which wants to frack us beyond recognition.

While researching pipelines and compressor stations I found something
very odd. Some pipelines (e.g., Millennium) are contained wholly in one state,
but are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Other pipelines (e.g., Bluestone, and Laser) cross a state line, but are
NOT regulated by FERC.

Also, I noticed some real funny business regarding compressor stations.
Most of the largest compressor stations in our area are NOT scoped
by FERC, even though they are an essential component of big interstate
transmission lines. What gives?

After months I found the answer:

FERC apparently only has jurisdiction over interstate transmission lines.
They do not regulate any pipelines or compressors which are part of
a "gathering line system".

So who do you think defines what is a "gathering line system"?
  • Is it Congress? NOPE!
  • Is it FERC? No.
It's the American Petroleum Institute (API) in their document
API RP80 which is incorporated by reference into the regs!
See: 49 CFR § 192.8
Here: want to try to view API RP80? Try it!

As you try, please take note if you can
a) browse anonymously, b) search, c) download, or d) print this document

So because FERC has allowed the OIL+GAS INDUSTRY to decide the
demarcation between a gathering line and a transmission line  (i.e.,
NOT Congress or FERC), this monstrosity (photo below), the 53 acre
"Williams Central Station" was allowed to be constructed by the (industry captured) Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, while the pipeline
which it will charge (the "Constitution Pipeline") is still in the Environmental
Impacts Study of FERC permitting process!

Note Well:
Some of the WORST Environmental Impacts of gas pipelines comes from compressors,
which are -- due to this ALEC-like mechanism, NOT SUBJECT to FERC review!!

Inline image 1

Example 2:

NY state, out of the blue, wants to pass regulations for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)
storage, and transportation, after a ban for nearly 40 years. (The ban was provoked
by a terrible tank explosion Staten Island in 1973 which killed 40 workers).
So many of the NYers fighting fracking have shifted gears and are examining
these LNG regulations.

Guess what! All of the fire-safety regulations are written by the National Fire Prevention
Association (NFPA), are incorporated by reference into the NY DEC regulations.

See:  http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93166.html

Notice the reference to NFPA 52.

Again: these documents are trade secrets!
They cannot be downloaded, searched, printed,
or browsed anonymously.

Same exact thing!

Please Note: The American Petroleum Institute is a member of ALEC.
Not sure about NFPA... but there is certainly connections between NFPA and API:

OSHA Trade Release
March 29, 2004
Contact: Bill Wright
Phone: 202-693-1999

American Petroleum Institute / National Fire Protection Association Sign Joint Alliance with OSHA Highlights Safety and Health at Petroleum and Petrochemical Liquid Storage Facilities

WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) signed a joint Alliance today with two organizations to promote safe and healthful working conditions for workers in the petroleum and petrochemical industry.

The Alliance unites the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) with OSHA on efforts to ensure workers in the industry are armed with the training, knowledge and guidance to ensure their safety and health.

"Our goal is to ensure that workers in this industry have every tool they need to ensure they can do their job productively and safely," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "The petroleum industry does have the potential for catastrophic workplace incidents. Through this cooperative effort with API and NFPA, we're establishing a solid foundation on which managers, supervisors and workers can build to ensure the safety of all those involved in this important industry."

See more:

OK, now let's look at NFPA 52. Please try to a) browse anonymously, b) search, c) download, or d) print this document
and see what I mean:


While you are there, be sure to watch the video of NFPA President Jim Shannon 
trying to justify this racket:


The purpose of regulations is for the state to make demands upon industry regarding public and workplace safety and environmental safeguards.

Regulations generally carry the force of law.

How can this work when the industry being regulated writes large parts of the regulations?

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

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