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Pipeline Politics in an Era of Political Corruption

constitution pipeline

Tom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

 

The Constitution Pipeline rejection by corrupt Andrew Cuomo must be the beginning of a new approach by pipeline companies unaccustomed to pipeline politics.

My frustrations with Andrew Cuomo’s decision on the Constitution Pipeline are as deep as anyone’s, but pardon me if I don’t act surprised. Upstate New Yorkers learned the hard way the man was deeply corrupt and not to be trusted. They already knew the sting of betrayal from his fracking ban and the way it was done. They were smart enough to realize the fix was in years earlier when Cuomo put three senior NRDC attorneys on his fracking advisory committee, not to mention Joe Martens and all those other NRDC allies. Unfortunately, con men adept as Cuomo are always able to deceive again and again, which is what happened with the Constitution Pipeline.

Williams played along as if New York’s bureaucracy’s was like any other state’s; cooperate, follow the rules, give them political cover to do the right thing and all it would be fine. They didn’t understand the pipeline politics of a corrupt State of New York. Like the folks behind Port Ambrose who thought they could appease a governor in debt to the NRDC gang with some token references to being the alternative to fracking, they didn’t appreciate the relationship between radicals, a compromised press and deep-pocketed special interests that makes New York so corrupt. They thought rallies and demonstrations of public need and support would get the job done, but that’s yesterday’s politics. Today’s are much more corrupt and much more vicious, as evidenced by the whole “ExxonKnew” scandal that grew out of the La Jolla Junta conference in 2012.

Whining about the problem, though, isn’t going to get us anywhere. We know the press is hopelessly compromised and/or incompetent, we know we’re dealing in New York with a slime-ball governor and we know the names of the special interests who are the enemy. These are neither things that need to be rehashed here, nor items likely to attract much public sympathy with an urban population thinking their energy comes from the thermostat. It’s time to engage directly in the pipeline politics that yields decisions such as the atrocious one made in this instance.

And, by pipeline politics, I don’t mean more rallies, more public meetings, more endorsements, more speeches, more letter-writing or more of any of the conventional tools of politics. Those things play into the hands of the special interests (an unholy alliance of elitist power-makers, radical enviros and trial lawyers) engaged in an entirely different game. No, what I’m talking about is going on the offensive, acting like the gorilla for a change. Or, is the guerrilla?

Pipeline Politics Jock,_the_Gorilla

What does this entail? Well, let me suggest five specific things:

  • Investigative reports and RICO lawsuits exposing the networks of relationships among these special interests with press conferences and hard-hitting exposes that cannot be ignored by a press otherwise largely sympathetic to supposedly “green” causes serving as their cover.
  • An intense social media campaign that engages ordinary citizens on platforms actually commanding attention these days. (Pipeline companies are light years behind on this score and, sad to say, most of the ordinary folks who support energy development refuse to participate in these forms of communication, viewing them as just so much meaningless glitter, but they must and companies need to take the lead in showing how). There’s no hope for changing biased media such as the New York Times; one must instead go over their heads and around them. It’s the only way. 
  • Challenging the tax-exemptions of the multitude of fractivist non-profits and their private foundation financial sponsors who are hiding behind IRS designations as charities and horribly abusing the rules.
  • Encouraging the creation of numerous local support groups who will attend meetings, engage in protests and sponsor highly publicized petitions demanding action by state and local officials. While the opposition has mastered this technique and operates very effectively as a community of loosely connected guerrilla groups, our side tends to do the reverse with a top-down approach and politically correct softball messaging that doesn’t get the job done.
  • Turning the tables on fractivists and pipeline opponents by protesting them. It takes no special training or help. The supporters are there to make it happen and they don’t even need motivation. It requires only pipeline companies get out of the way and refocus their own efforts away from useless demonstrations of conventional political support toward providing detailed public information about their projects that supporters can marshall for use in their own campaigns. Frankly, as a pipeline supporter, I’ve found pipeline websites to be among the worst imaginable in conveying needed information. They tend to be long on politically correct PR messaging approved by the legal department and woefully short on details. Their websites should provide ever possible detail on the projects themselves, the benefits, the nature of approvals needed, whom to write to express opinions and easy access to FERC dockets, so friends can see who the enemies are and what they’re saying and doing, so it countered. No ask is required; just the access to the information.

None of these are being done effectively today by most pipeline companies. This cannot continue. Pipeline companies and natural gas supporters (and there are more of us than them) need to be engaged in the new pipeline politics.

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8 thoughts on “Pipeline Politics in an Era of Political Corruption

  1. Great list, to which I would add this: Dog Cuomo anytime he makes a public appearance, and greet him with protest signs calling out his corruption and his callous disregard for upstate. Get as many people in front of cameras as possible to disparage his policies. Perhaps the unions who supported the pipeline would get onboard; after all the unions in general support Cuomo and he’s shafted them here.

    • Tom,

      You are right however I think there is a bigger battle to be win. I truly believe that the New Englanders and New Yorkers are extremely smart people, that is where innovation comes out of, so many great universities, MIT, etc. The Natural Gas Industry is losing the PR battle and needs to step up there game ten fold and put a positive message out The key is convincing the people of New York and New England that proposed pipelines are in their best interest and are environmental friendly (not the environmental wackos). This may be costly because the cost of laying pipe going through all these environmentally sensitive area is going to be high, one cannot simply do it like it is done in Texas, that is wishful thinking. It can be done and but it is going to be more costly and timely. Ultimately these firms are going to have decide whether it is feasible or simply pack up their bags. You need grass roots organizations and it is going take a long time to overcome some of the issues, unfortunately any time there is a problem in the industry it gets run up the flagpole, and we have seen many pipleline incidents in the news It is tempting to blame the regulators and in this case it may be true they where corrupt, however after their recommendation they seemed to claim they did not have enough data to hang their hat on to approve the permit. Not knowing all the details, it is tough to really say what happened, perhaps you are right it was a corrupt process and the regulators where stalling or maybe both sides where at fault, who knows.

      Best of Luck to Everyone.

  2. Agree with every word. I live in northwest Connecticut. We have the highest electric rates in the contiguous 48 (~20¢/kwh). And they’ll go higher. New England is starving for natural gas. In winter, electric power generation turns to oil due to limited nat gas pipeline capacity and home heating takes priority. New pipeline projects stall and die of green scurvy.

    Connecticut is bankrupt. Worse, Connecticut gives $3,500 to well healed roof-top-solar apostles along with $7,500 of Federal tax credit. This while the state closes rural branches of the state university to save money. Northeast is becoming deindustrialized Appalachia. Lots of forest for bears and moose. Ski condos and lake houses for the rich. No work and high prices for the middle people.

    Thanks for your efforts and sober thinking Tom.
    Paul Kramarchyk
    engineer (retired), vet U.S. Navy nuclear submarines 6 years.

    • IT IS BEING STATED THAT NEW ENGLAND IS STARVING FOR NATURAL GAS, YET KINDER MORGAN CANCELLED ITS PIPELINE FOR NE FOR LACK OF SUFFICIENT INTEREST.

      APPEALING TO REASON AND SCIENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER, CAUSE THE RADICAL LEFT DOES NOT CARE .
      THE ONLY WAY TO GET ATTENTION IS TO SLOW DOWN THE SUPPLY OF NATURAL GAS TO THE CITIES AND CREATE A SHORTAGE AND THEN HEAR THE HOWLS AND THEN THE PRESS WILL DEMAND ACTION. .
      REMEMBER THE LONG GAS LINES AND SHORTAGES OF FUEL IN 1970’s? IT GOT PRICES HIGHER AND PEOPLES ATTENTION TO IMPORTANCE OF FUEL. WE HAVE TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING TO APPRECIATE WHAT WE HAVE , TILL WE DON’T HAVE IT ANY LONGER. PEACE!!

  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/science/earth/environmental-activists-take-to-local-protests-for-global-results.html?_r=0

    Seriously arrests are where it is at. Disturbing meetings also really popular. Showing up at ferc commissioners homes? Also a good tactic.

    Here’s the thing…even if you are just a small group of people disturbing any meeting or getting arrested somewhere locked to each other likely you need to alert the press first so they can be there to cover you. Don’t worry that reporters will notice if you are the same people doing this in different places as actually they won’t and even if they are notified about how you are actually the same people doing this in different places for the next few years they won’t care.

    Lying is about the best thing you can do along with causing some kind of disturbance. Case in point? The source used in the nytimes article above Patrick robbins and sane energy project. It’s super easy to Google and find that both sane energy and the specific source Patrick Robbins have been lying for years at hearings or to reporters on mutliple pipeline projects including constituion pipe, spectra aim, spectra nynj rockaway pipe, what ferc does or is and also widely dispersed a conspiracy theory on port ambrose but even the nytimes finds this googling thing too hard to do and also doesn’t seem to care about the integrity of the information they put in print.

    • WHAT IS BEING PROPOSED IS TO ACT LIKE THE RADICALS. READ SAUL ALINSKY’s -RULES FOR THE RADICAL. These are all proposed in his book, and were/are being used by the radicals. But I subscribe to the believe we are much better than they are.
      What we need is a Republican president and republicans in office and in courts to write and shape the laws.

  4. https://www.popularresistance.org/ferc-action-pancakes-not-pipelines/

    Besides arrests and costumes you should consider also serving some kind of snack. Doesn’t have to be pancakes but pancakes and pipelines begin with a p so why not. Celebrities such as singers or better yet singers who are children of famous singers and also people who are the children of former vice presidents would also be a plus. I mean if you truly want to make a splash this is how it’s done.

    Fun fact about the link above : it features Jessica roff and employee of Catskill mountainkeeper. Her track record on pipelines is pretty astonishing as are the number of politicians you can find standing near her or photographed at events with her in the news or some blog.

    Was she an integral part of interesting educational events and super interesting news that I read on port Ambrose being secretly an export project? Sure.

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