To Beth Wallace, the federation’s community outreach coordinator for the Great Lakes Regional Center, it was typical of the brushoffs environmental groups get from PHMSA. “It seems that the agency always gives an ear to the industry,” she said. “But when it comes to public participation, there doesn’t seem to be that same level of access.”
PHMSA spokesman Hill said agency officials had met with the National Wildlife Federation in May and didn’t feel another meeting was necessary.
In New Orleans, Wiese said “an under-informed populace highly dependent on fossil fuels” is prone to negative perceptions of the industry. He said that penchant is exacerbated by a press corps that doesn’t “have time to fully understand the story” and has instead served as a vehicle for “gang warfare” through its coverage of events like the March 29 rupture of Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark.
Congress, Wiese contended, hasn’t done much to help.
“It’s very political in Washington. Nobody wants to try to figure out what’s the best thing to do. They’re thinking about what’s the most advantageous position to take,” he said, later adding that he’d recently had an unpleasant meeting with a “very hot” congressional delegation about the Pegasus spill in Arkansas.
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., a member of the delegation Wiese was referring to, has criticized the operations and maintenance of the pipeline and PHMSA’s lack of transparency.
“If public officials and Arkansans would have known then what we know now, changes to the operation of the pipeline may have been demanded years ago,” he said.
(InsideClimate News is a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization that covers clean energy, carbon energy, nuclear energy and environmental science. More information is available at http://insideclimatenews.org/.)
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