"There's been 8,000 pipeline ruptures in the last 30 years, just in the United States," said Marc Thomas, membership chair with local section of the Sierra Club. "How can they say this is safe?"
In a white paper on the pipeline, Fidelity says the line is low pressure, low volume and therefore not subject to federal regulation by the pipeline safety administration. It has been buried or bored into the ground in areas of high traffic and is being built by a company that has safely constructed and operated more than 4,000 miles of pipelines in four states, the paper states.
Rasmussen, the Fidelity spokesman, offered a direct defense of the project:
"We would not build an unsafe pipeline. We have been in the energy pipeline business since the 1930s and that is not a wise business model to be building an unsafe pipeline," Rasmussen said.
"That never makes sense. Not only is it not in the best interest of the public, but it is not in a good business decision either. You want pipelines with integrity that will move volumes because that is the revenue stream."
Fidelity is also proposing to build a 10.5 mile network of additional connector lines to the Dead Horse Lateral line, a process being reviewed by the Bureau of Land Management, which will then seek public comment on the plan.
For Rau and Thomas, it has become too much. The pipeline — regardless of it capturing natural gas that was flared — is an encroachment of the oil industry on the land they love, land they say will be forever changed.
"My preference is that the pipeline would not have been built in the first place," Rau said.
He added that if the natural gas flares could continue, it might draw more attention to the oil extraction taking place next to the parks.
"Frankly, yes, I would prefer that they would flare," he said. "It would be much more conspicuous and would cause more people to question what is going on in this area."
Thomas said the entire infrastructure that Fidelity is putting in to support its wells represents a sea change for the area.
"Many people in the environment community think it is a good thing that the natural gas is captured. But the pipeline is just the beginning," Thomas said. "It is the harbinger of things to come. It is a very visible display of what the future holds."
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: amyjoi16
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