How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets

The Danish capital ranks high on the list of the worlds healthiest and happiest cities. With obesity and depression on the rise worldwide, here are its lessons for how to combat them culturally

How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets

How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets

The Danish capital ranks high on the list of the worlds healthiest and happiest cities. With obesity and depression on the rise worldwide, here are its lessons for how to combat them culturally

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/11/how-build-healthy-city-copenhagen-reveals-its-secrets-happiness

For Chinas Wealthy, Singapore Is the New Hong Kong

When more than 80 of China’s wealth managers gathered recently at the Shangri-La hotel on Singapore’s resort island of Sentosa, the chatter during tea breaks kept returning to one theme: Hong Kong is starting to be eclipsed by Singapore as the favorite destination for the wealth of China’s rich.

At stake for banks in both cities is a huge pile of money. China’s high-net-worth individuals control an estimated $5.8 trillion—almost half of it already offshore, according to consulting firm Capgemini SE. For some, the city-state of Singapore is preferable because it’s at a safer distance from any potential scrutiny from authorities in Beijing, according to interviews with several wealth managers. Multiple private banking sources in Singapore, who would not comment on the record because of the sensitivity of the subject, report seeing increased flows at the expense of Hong Kong.

The rich may be feeling exposed by changing banking practices. Hong Kong has signed tax transparency agreements that for the first time last year required all banks to report their account holders’ information to Hong Kong tax officials, in preparation for giving that information to 75 jurisdictions, including mainland China. Singapore will have similar agreements with 61 jurisdictions. But they don’t include either Hong Kong or Beijing, meaning its accounts and account holders aren’t visible to the Chinese government. “Many rich people from the mainland believe Hong Kong is still a part of China, after all,” says Xia Chun, chief research officer at Noah Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong, an asset management service provider. “They think there’s no difference in putting money in Hong Kong, compared to Beijing.”

At the same time, more Chinese banks in Hong Kong are “trying to synchronize their internal systems with those on the mainland to improve service efficiency,” says Eva Law, the Hong Kong-based founder of the Association of Private Bankers in Greater China Region. “This also means the clients’ information will become more transparent and the mainland can identify fund flows more easily, or will have fuller and faster access to your asset holdings, thus enabling easier investigation and tracing.”

Overall, Hong Kong remains the primary destination for China’s offshore money, according to a Capgemini survey, followed by Singapore and New York. Yet the number of Chinese high-net-worth individuals who view Hong Kong as their preferred overseas place of investment is down to 53 percent, from 71 percent two years ago, according to a survey in July by Bain & Co. More than 20 percent favor Singapore, up from 15 percent two years ago. “Singapore is the Zurich of the East,” says Xiao Xiao, the Beijing-based chief operating officer of Chinese wealth manager Fortunes Capital.

“We see Singapore, not Hong Kong, as the bridgehead of China’s investment overseas,” says Li Qinghao, co-founder of NewBanker Tech Consulting, which organized the Sentosa conference last year. About 78 percent of S$2.7 trillion ($1.9 trillion) in assets under management in Singapore comes from overseas sources. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and other firms with big private banking operations are building up their teams of China relationship managers in Singapore.

China has been tightening its grip on Hong Kong. A year ago, Chinese financier Xiao Jianhua was reported by local media to have been seized from a Hong Kong hotel by Chinese authorities and taken to the mainland. The incident followed the disappearance of several Hong Kong booksellers who sold books critical of China’s Communist Party and were reported to have been taken involuntarily across the border.

Then there are the increased restrictions on Hong Kong’s financial practices, such as a 2016 crackdown on sales of certain types of insurance products to mainland Chinese. The products pay dividends over a number of years and are essentially viewed as investments—and potentially a way to send money out of China and evade capital controls. “The Hong Kong market is now heavily affected by mainland China,” says Guan Huanyu, president of Beijing-based wealth manager Zhenghe Holdings, who attended the Sentosa event.

While Hong Kong’s Securities & Futures Commission doesn’t break down the origin of funds, its data show that growth in the city’s private banking business has been slowing. Hong Kong logged 10.7 percent growth in private banking assets under management in 2016, down from 18 percent in 2015.

Singapore has additional attractions for the wealthy of China. Mandarin is one of its four official languages, and it has world-class health facilities and international schools. Not far from the Shangri-La Hotel, Sentosa’s casinos are a popular draw for Chinese tourists. Mainland Chinese were the largest foreign buyers of luxury properties in Singapore during the first half of last year, according to consultancy Cushman & Wakefield. Real estate is far cheaper than in Hong Kong.

But mainly, the rich like to diversify—not only among asset classes, but among political regimes. “Most of our clients have undergone a shift from poor to rich,” says Kou Quan, vice president at Tianjin-based Xinmao S&T Investment Group. “And they’re all worried about becoming poor again.”

    BOTTOM LINE – Hong Kong’s financial sector is becoming more entwined with the mainland, prompting more and more of China’s rich to turn to Singapore.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-06/for-china-s-wealthy-singapore-is-the-new-hong-kong

    Volkswagen Apologizes for Testing of Diesel Fumes on Monkeys

    The controversy over Volkswagen AG’s diesel-emissions cheating took another twist when the carmaker apologized for a test that exposed monkeys to engine fumes to study effects of the exhaust.

    The company said the study, conducted by a research and lobby group set up by VW, Daimler AG, BMW AG and Robert Bosch GmbH, was a mistake. The New York Times reported earlier about a 2014 trial in a U.S. laboratory in which 10 monkeys inhaled diesel emissions from a VW Beetle.

    “We apologize for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals,” Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW said in a statement. “We’re convinced the scientific methods chosen then were wrong. It would have been better to do without such a study in the first place.”

    The revelations show the rocky road for Volkswagen as it emerges from its biggest crisis after the 2015 bombshell that the company installed emissions-cheating software in some 11 million diesel vehicles to dupe official tests. They also do little to help the poor public perception of the technology under scrutiny for high pollution levels in many European cities. In an additional twist, the Beetle model used in the test was among the vehicles that were rigged to conform to test limits, The New York Times reported.

    Daimler said separately it would start an investigation into the study ordered by the European Scientific Study Group for the Environment, Health and Transport Sector. BMW too distanced itself from the trial, saying it had taken no part in its design and methods. Bosch said it left the group in 2013. The study group, financed equally by the three carmakers, ceased activities last year and the project wasn’t completed, VW said.

    “We believe the animal tests in this study were unnecessary and repulsive,” Daimler said in a statement. “We explicitly distance ourselves from the study.”

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-28/volkswagen-apologizes-for-testing-of-diesel-fumes-on-monkeys

      Heres How the 20 Contenders for Amazon HQ2 Stack Up

      Now that Amazon.com Inc. has whittled down the list of cities it’s considering for its second North American headquarters, it’s time for a new round of everyone’s favorite parlor game: arguing about which city would suit the technology giant best.

      After the e-commerce company said it was seeking a second HQ to relieve pressure on its Seattle home base, it received proposals from 238 locations, full of rich economic incentives and goofy marketing gimmicks.

      Now it has narrowed the field to 20 places, including three bids from the Washington D.C., area, where Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has put down roots, as well as proposals from smaller Midwestern cities (Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis) and major population centers (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and Dallas).

      Economic incentives aside — and there are plenty — here are some pros and cons of the places on Amazon’s very long shortlist.

      Atlanta

      Pros: A major airline hub and home to big corporations, such as UPS, Coca-Cola and Delta. A recent focus on redevelopment projects like the BeltLine — a series of parks built on an old railroad spur that runs through the city — may add to the city’s appeal.

      Cons: It’s still not that cool. Amazon prides itself on its urban Seattle locations being walkable and bikable, and a more suburban city like Atlanta may contradict that spirit. Terrible traffic, too.

      Austin

      Pros: Close to the distribution and business hub of Dallas but much hipper. No Texas income tax, an established tech industry and home to Whole Foods, which Amazon recently acquired.

      Cons: Small airport. Despite surging population, still doesn’t feel like a major U.S. city. 

      Boston

      Pros: Proximity to Harvard, MIT and a wealth of other colleges and universities, an airport with nonstop flights to Seattle and Washington, D.C., and a track record for providing rich relocation benefits, like the incentives the city offered GE in 2015.

      Cons: Has some of the same drawbacks as New York—high cost of living, tight residential and commercial real estate markets—without the same cultural amenities and depth of talent. 

      Chicago

      Pros: A heavy concentration of operations, marketing, finance and sales employees to poach from other industries. Good public transit, walkable neighborhoods and a variety of housing choices, from downtown apartments to traditional suburbs. 

      Cons: Shootings in the city have become national news, and the state is still emerging from dire financial straits. Digging its government out of debt could require tax hikes and cuts to public services. 

      Columbus

      Pros: A major research university in Ohio State, a fast-growing economy and cheap housing.

      Cons: The housing is cheap for a reason.

      Dallas

      Pros: Has been a magnet for corporate relocations in the last two decades, offering high quality of life and access to a deep pool of workers. There’s no state income tax, and unlike Austin, it’s a major city and an airline hub.

      Cons: Dallas suburbs may seem pretty stodgy to Amazon employees used to the cultural amenities in downtown Seattle. 

      Denver

      Pros: Denver is already popular with tech companies. Colorado boasts strong engineering schools and trounces the other finalists when it comes to close proximity to fresh powder. Fresh, and legal, pot, too, for those who partake.

      Cons: The exodus of workers to Denver’s burgeoning tech hub has already stretched the local housing market. Doesn’t offer a lot of geographic diversity from Seattle.

      Indianapolis

      Pros: Tech company salaries would go far in the heartland, and choosing Indianapolis would make Amazon arguably the most important employer in middle America.

      Cons: The sheer of size of the Amazon HQ could swamp the city’s residential and commercial real estate markets. As in Columbus, the cheap housing here isn’t a mystery. 

      Los Angeles

      Pros: The tech giant’s Amazon Studios division—quickly becoming a force in Hollywood, with original streaming TV series such as “Transparent” and “Man in the High Castle”—is based in Santa Monica.

      Cons: It’s an expensive place to live, a hard place to build in and, like Denver, it doesn’t offer a lot of geographic diversity from Seattle.

      Miami

      Pros: The Seattle workforce could use a little sun. Bezos, currently the richest man in the world, attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School.

      Cons: Lacks an existing tech ecosystem, has high housing costs and might be under water at some point.

      Montgomery County

      Pros: This Maryland county is one of three bids in or near the District of Columbia to land on the shortlist. Bezos has put down roots in the area with his acquisitions of the Washington Post and the city’s largest private home.

      Cons: Commercial real estate is probably more available here than in the U.S. capital, but the trade-off is asking the company’s workforce to work in the ’burbs.

      Nashville

      Pros: Good universities, no Tennessee income tax and fame as the country music capital of the world have already made the city popular with major employers.

      Cons: Like Austin and Denver, the city has already succeeded in convincing companies to relocate, and the local housing market has struggled to keep up with the flood of new workers.

      Newark

      Pros: Proximity to New York without the Big Apple’s staggering home prices. In October, then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pledged to back the city’s bid to lure Amazon with as much as $7 billion in tax breaks. 

      Cons: The city might be a tough sell for workers over San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York.

      New York

      Pros: Locating in New York would give Amazon access to the world’s top pool of finance and media talent and a growing tech scene.

      Cons: Housing prices are already high, one of the reasons locals in Seattle are pushing back against the company’s expansion there. There’s also limited space for new office construction.

      Northern Virginia

      Pros: Like Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Northern Virginia offers an educated workforce and proximity to both the federal government and the Washington Post. Commercial real estate is easier to come by than in the District of Columbia.

      Cons: The area isn’t as strong on urban appeal as some of the other contenders.

      Philadelphia

      Pros: Good transit, large population, and it’s close to New York and Washington, with much lower housing costs.

      Cons: Amazon would have to convince workers in those two cities that giving up cultural amenities for cheaper housing is a trade worth making.

      Pittsburgh

      Pros: Home to top AI and robotics university Carnegie Mellon, which have already drawn top tech companies like Google and Uber. Close to major distribution hubs in the middle of the country.

      Cons: It’s far from other major cities and tech hubs.

      Raleigh

      Pros: Part of an existing tech hub; offers cheap housing, good quality of life and the chance for Amazon to put its stamp on a city in a way that it couldn’t in more established metros.

      Cons: Clashes over gender identity and other hot political issues suggest North Carolina is still struggling over its own identity.

      Toronto

      Pros: A major financial and technology hub and a population that would put it among the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas. Potentially easier to hire people from abroad because of a more open tone on immigration from the government than in the U.S.

      Cons: Housing prices are high compared to cities like Atlanta. The city also doesn’t have much space for housing and commercial development required for HQ2 in the downtown core. Moving integral operations north of the border holds political risks in dealing with the Trump administration.

      Washington, D.C.

      Pros: A strong technology workforce and proximity to lawmakers and regulators. Bezos put down roots in the area with his 2013 acquisition of the Washington Post.

      Cons: Lack of space and zoning restrictions could make it hard to find enough office space. Sticking the headquarters in the ’burbs would make it easier to find land but harder to appeal to workers. And you don’t get a U.S. senator to fight for you on the Hill.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/amazon-ignites-fight-for-hq2-here-s-how-20-contenders-stack-up

        A Blade Strikes Steel, and the Blast Shocks a Nations Energy System

        On Halloween afternoon, nine men arrived at a wooded ridgeline in rural Alabama. They parked their vehicles next to a gravel road, forming a loose circle of pickup trucks, a semi, and an earth-moving track hoe. A driver turned on the track hoe and drove it down into a long stretch of grass that ran along a hillsidethe right of way for the Colonial Pipeline, the largest gasoline pipeline in the U.S. Beneath the ground, a 3-foot-wide steel tube carried roughly 1.4 million barrels of gasoline each day to 50 million Americans in cities up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

        The men were there to conduct repairs. Just over a month before, the pipeline had sprung a leak, forcing a shutdown that caused gasoline reserves on the East Coast to fall from 64 million barrels to 55.5 million, the biggest one-week drop in U.S. history. Prices spiked at the pump in many cities from Atlanta to Jersey City. The leak had been fixed temporarily with a bypass, and now the crew was excavating about 5 miles from the original rupture to rebuild the stretch that had failed. They worked for a local contractor, L.E. Bell Construction, that the pipelines owner, Colonial Pipeline Co., had hired many times over the years.

        Among the team was Anthony Lee Willingham, a 48-year-old track hoe operator whod been with L.E. Bell for almost 30 years. He was familiar enough with the routine procedures of pipeline repair to have built a kind of muscle memory. If he was at the wheelthe company hasnt confirmed thishe would have known to operate the track hoe blade slowly, deliberately, without applying too much pressure. But somehow the blade struck steel, and the fuel ignited.

        At that moment, not far down the gravel road, a farmer named Douglas Wright was at home playing with his granddaughter. The explosion shook the house to its foundations. Wright looked outside and saw a column of flame rising hundreds of feet in the air. Black smoke billowed into the blue sky. He told his wife to take their granddaughter and drive as fast as possible, then he headed toward the fire, thinking to check on some elderly neighbors. As he got closer to the site, he heard screams. Wright arrived to find some of the workers on the ground, severely burned, as their uninjured colleagues tried frantically to move them away from the flames. The track hoe was charred. The semi was obliterated, and the pickup trucks were on fire. Amid the wreckage was the body of Willingham. Authorities were unable to collect his remains until the next day.

        Aftershocks quickly shuddered up the spine of Americas energy system. When gasoline traders realized that East Coast reserves were once again threatened, they started bidding up the price of fuel. In a matter of hours, the cost of a gasoline futures contract for December shot up 15 percent, the highest jump since the financial crisis in late 2008. Merchants scrambled to secure supplies from tankers carrying imported fuel, causing the cost of cargo freight from the Atlantic to surge more than a third, to about $17 per metric ton, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

        David
        David Butler, Riverkeeper for the Cahaba, downstream from a Colonial Pipeline explosion site.
        Photographer: Christopher Gregory for Bloomberg Businessweek

        The chaos revealed something millions of Americans had long been able to ignore: They depend on a single pipeline to deliver the gasoline that fuels their everyday lives. And that pipeline is operated by a single, little-known company with an increasingly troubled safety record. Built in 1962, the Colonial was the largest private-sector infrastructure project of its time. Roughly half of all refined fuel products used in cities from Georgia to New Jersey run through its 5,500 miles, which branch out from oil refineries in Texas and on the Gulf Coast to gas stations in Americas most populated corridor. In 1999, Colonial Pipeline paid a fine of $7 millionthe biggest ever at the timefor a massive spill in South Carolina. Four years later, it was fined $34 million, a new record, for spilling 1.45 million gallons of oil in five states.

        At the same time, Colonial has benefited from an increasingly dense regulatory environment for pipeline construction, which has helped protect it from competition and make it something of a piggy bank for its owners, to whom the company returns annual dividends that typically total about $300 million. Colonials pipeline consistently runs at 100 percent capacity, leaving gasoline refiners and fuel merchants, who pay transport rates in a manner akin to a toll road, vying for space. The company, headquartered in Alpharetta, a suburb of Atlanta, is privately held by a consortium of investors. The largest is Koch Industries, with a 28 percent stake; others include the private equity firm KKR, Shell Pipeline, and South Koreas National Pension Service.

        Tight capacity and the millions of gallons of new oil supplies produced by the U.S. shale boom have made some operators and industrial customers eager to build additional pipelines. Companies that rely on the Colonial, including American Airlines, are among those pressing for expansion. But although pipeline operators maintain that moving fuel underground is cheaper and safer than moving it by rail, barge, or truck, resistance to more construction has grown fierce, and not just in liberal communities. In addition to ongoing protests by Native American and environmental activists over the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, some deeply conservative Southern counties have opposed projects as well.
         
         
        Minutes after the explosion in Alabama, David Butlers cell phone started ringing. Butler is a local leader of Riverkeepers, an alliance of activists who protect watersheds and rivers around the country. As Riverkeeper for the Cahaba, which snakes between the sites of the Colonial gas leak in September and the explosion in October, he counts among his responsibilities testing for pollution and responding to reports of sewer leaks. Colonial had also enlisted him to help monitor for pollution from its line and with cleanup after spills. That afternoon, Butler and his wife, who live about 20 miles from the blast, were preparing to take their kids trick-or-treating. His daughter was going to be Little Red Riding Hood, his son the Big Bad Wolf.

        The first calls were from neighbors, asking if he knew what had happened. Then Colonial got in touch and confirmed that the fire had begun with an explosion. The implications were dire: Hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel could be pouring into nearby creeks and rivers, imperiling the Cahabas 173 species of fish and mussels, 14 of which are listed as threatened or endangered. The waterway is also home to the rare Cahaba river lily, which attracts thousands of tourists after it blooms each May. (Local drinking water supplies were safe, since theyre drawn from a river farther away.)

        First
        First responders at the Oct. 31 explosion.
        Source: Alabaster Fire Department/Reuters

        That evening, Butler arrived at the improvised command center Colonial had set up at a community building in the town of Pelham. After being cleared by security, he entered a large, gymnasium-like room where a disaster response team was working on a plan to contain the fire and assess the damage. Butler might have seemed out of place amid the fire department staff, pipeline personnel, and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and other government bodies. With his dark beard, wiry frame, and casual clothinghe often wears jeans and a yellow Riverkeeper T-shirthe typically looks like hes just finished a long hike. He also has the metabolism of a hummingbird, frequently fueling himself with Powerade and miniature chocolate-chip cookies.

        That first night, Butler worked with Colonial employees and environmental contractors until roughly 3 a.m. to draw a map that showed where gasoline might be leaking into the Cahaba. One point of concern was a creek near the explosion that fed into the river. This small stretch of water is the isolated habitat of the oblong rocksnail, a species thought to be extinct until a small population was found in 2011. Butler and Colonial decided that in the morning they would test strategic points along the waterways for the presence of fuel.

        As they worked that night, the fire was spreading along the hillside to nearby forested land. Alabama was in the middle of an historic drought, which had left the forest floor covered with dry tinder. About 31 acres of land were engulfed overnight. Butler considered it a stroke of luck that the fire wasnt encroaching on the suburban communities dotting the highways between the explosion and Helena, a town 21 miles south of Birmingham. Colonial had moved swiftly to shut off the flow of gasoline in the pipe, leaving it to burn itself out as firefighting crews doused the edges of the blaze and built earthen berms to contain the fountain of ignited fuel. When Butler arrived in the morning to start collecting water samples, the fire was largely contained, but it remained about 20 feet high.

        As he went from site to site, the early indications looked promising: no oily sheen on the water, no odor of gas. He did, however, notice a somber air among the pipeline employees and contractors. They seemed almost embarrassed, he thought. Colonial had been having a very bad year in Alabama. The company had already reported five leaks from its pipeline in 2016, one less in 10 months than it had had in the previous five years. In late January, the Colonial had discharged about 126 gallons of fuel into nearby wilderness. Several smaller spills followed, culminating in the big leak in September, when 309,540 gallons of gasoline poured out of the line, filling local ponds and forcing the shutdown.

        Records from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) show that nationally, the number of reported pipeline accidents has been creeping up every year since 2012, from 573 that year to 715 in 2015. The number of reported accidents along the Colonial has also been climbing (though not in a straight line), from 12 in 2011 to 27 in 2015. Their cost, too, has been increasing. Last year, incidents involving the Colonial led to $18.1 million in property damage and cleanup outlays, the highest total by far over the preceding decade. This year, the figure had already reached $75.6 million before the accident on Oct. 31.

        Colonial refused to comment on what caused the September leak or why accidents are up sharply in Alabama this year. Malesia Dunn, a spokeswoman for Colonial, said that the company is looking into the causes of both major incidents and cant comment until the investigation is further along. The PHMSA has yet to determine the cause of the September and October incidents and wouldnt comment either.

        Butler had worked with Colonial to contain the September leak. As bad as it was, he said, it could have been far worse. It had been discovered only by chance, by a state inspector who smelled gas fumes while doing unrelated work in the area. And because of the drought, the nearby ponds were low, which allowed them to become catchments for the spill. Had they been full, the gasoline might have flowed into the Cahaba.

        Dunn wouldnt discuss why the company failed to discover the September leak, but she stressed that it has an extensive detection system in place. The system includes pressure-monitoring equipment and flyover inspections, as well as training for local officials about Colonials operations, which lets them know who to call if they see something, she wrote in a statement. She added that a flyover inspection two days before hadnt spotted the leak.

        After the September spill was contained, Butler said, he had jokingly told Colonial employees, I hope I never see you again. Now, as they once again raced to keep the Cahaba River safe from a gas spill, it wasnt like, Hey, great to see you, he said. Its like, Here we are again.
         
         
        Accidents like the ones on the Colonial have galvanized opposition to pipeline construction across the country. In North Dakota, protesters have built huge encampments and blocked roads to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $4 billion project that would take crude oil from fracking wells in North Dakota to refineries and gasoline consumers in Illinois. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argue that the pipelines proposed route runs too close to the Missouri River, the source of their drinking water. On Nov. 15, hundreds of marchers closed down streets near the White House, while other rallies took place from Los Angeles to New York.

        The Colonials history suggests their fears are justified. The leak in South Carolina for which Colonial Pipeline paid its 1999 fine, for example, sent roughly 1 million gallons of diesel fuel into a local waterway, contaminating a 23-mile stretch of river and killing an estimated 35,000 fish, along with beavers, muskrats, and turtles. In settling with the U.S. Department of Justice, Colonial pleaded guilty to criminal neglect.

        Over the past three decades, incidents like these, and the resistance theyve spawned, have led to a much tighter regulatory environment for pipeline builders. Roger Williams, a pipeline developer from Wichita, said that in the mid-1980s he oversaw a project that laid 1,300 miles of pipe from Texas to California, crossing several states and a mountain range for good measure. At 85, hes now vice president for operations on the 178-mile Pilgrim Pipeline project, which would serve cities in New Jersey and New York. His team has spent millions just to get to the beginning of the permitting process, including money to hire herpetologists and other wildlife experts to examine the ecological impact of the new line. After more than three years of groundwork, Williams said, we dont have one single permit yet. In the meantime, the company has had to shut down a branch office in New York and lay off its staff. They protect everything up there except human beings, he said.

        Included
        Included in the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2016. Subscribe now.
        Photo illustration: Justin Metz

        New pipelines are being thwarted in the South, too. In May, Georgias Republican governor, Nathan Deal, signed a moratorium on pipeline permits following intense public opposition to a proposal by Kinder Morgan for a 360-mile pipeline called the Palmetto. The line would have branched off from the companys Plantation Pipe Line, tracing a route through Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, and serving cities with limited or no pipeline service, such as Savannah and Jacksonville. Opposition arose almost immediately, led in part by Tonya Bonitatibus, the Riverkeeper for the Savannah River. The Palmetto was to be buried beneath miles of marshy terrain that runs alongside sensitive riverswetlands that serve, Bonitatibus said, as the rivers liver and lungs, by letting pollutants settle out into sediment in the shallow, slow-moving water.

        While some of the anti-Palmetto movements concerns were environmental, their activism took on a conservative bent. Most of the resistance focused on Kinder Morgans authority to use eminent domain to take property from landowners who wouldnt cut a deal with the company, a power granted to pipeline companies by a New Deal-era law intended to spur infrastructure development. They were incredibly arrogant the entire time, Bonitatibus said. There was absolutely no way that Kinder Morgan should have access to eminent domain.

        Allen Fore, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, said that on a typical pipeline project the company uses eminent domain sparingly, invoking it for fewer than 5 percent of landowners. He added that the company had also been prepared to push ahead with Palmetto without eminent domain. But the activists message carried the day, and Deal passed his moratorium with the backing of conservative state legislators. Even with financing and a customer base locked in, the regulatory uncertainty was too great for Kinder Morgan to carry on. That, at the end of the day, was the problem of Palmettowhere you have a regulatory environment that shifts, Fore said. The playing field is not only altered, its basically shut down.
         
         
        In the days after the Alabama explosion, as Butler collected water samples, employees from Colonial and L.E. Bell raced to get gasoline flowing again. The lessons of the September shutdown were fresh in their minds. They knew that oil traders and wholesalers would be counting the minutes until the pipeline reopened.

        The gravel road to the accident site was guarded by a rotating shift of Shelby County sheriffs deputies, who checked credentials and kept strangers and reporters away. Traffic was almost nonstop. Heavy trucks with the L.E. Bell logo came and went, along with vehicles from specialists and construction companies from around the Southeast. The men and women driving looked stoic, ignoring reporters as they passed by the entrance. At the site, workers prepared new sections of pipeline while fire crews sprayed smoldering tree stumps to prevent reignition. In the predawn hours of Nov. 4, four days after the blaze erupted, it finally burned out completely. The next day, the new section of pipeline was tested and prepared for use.

        Employees of L.E. Bell appeared shellshocked in the days after the explosion. Word of Willinghams death had spread quickly, and four of his co-workers were being treated at a burn unit in downtown Birmingham. Trays of food and gallons of coffee were sent to provision family members as they held vigil. Those who knew Willingham seemed mystified by the accident, none more so than Jeremy Slaton, his next-door neighbor and close friend. The two often shot rifles together on a grassy hillside near their homes. Slaton recalled that Willingham could hit a target from several hundred yards away. Willingham was a steady hand and a competent worker, he said, which made him doubt that a simple mistaken swipe of the track hoe blade had been entirely to blame. It would take tremendous, tremendous force to put a back hoe, or a track hoe, tooth through a piece of pipe, he said. Im thinking theres something elsesomething was hidden that caused this.

        Shortly after the accident, Colonial released a statement saying that a track hoe had struck the pipeline, but the company didnt confirm that Willingham had been driving or otherwise elaborate. The company and the National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the accident, but neither would comment on their investigations or on the circumstances of the explosion.

        Larry Bell, the owner and operator of L.E. Bell Construction, declined to discuss the explosion in detail because of the legal troubles surrounding it. He would say only that it was a freak accident. He said, It had nothing to do with unsafe pipeline or workmanship. Im not a betting man, but youd win money on that.

        Bell lives on a large complex that also serves as his companys headquarters, on a winding country road near Heflin, an hour or so east of Birmingham. On the left as visitors enter is a giant warehouse and open lot. Next to that is a small office building, where visitors are greeted by a caged parrot. A sign taped to the front door shows a pile of cash below the caption, This is the money you couldve saved if you hadnt voted for Obama. To the right of the office is a palatial house. The mix of home and business, Bell said, was a country boys way of doing stuff. He was quick to point out that he and his wife were born poor and had been raised in a nearby small town. We didnt have no rich aunts or rich uncles or daddies but we had some good ones, he said.

        Bell dropped out of high school to work as a laborer on the Colonial in the early 1960s. He remembered when the pipeline ran its first gallons to fuel. His company now employs about 500 people, who help maintain the aging Colonial and other pipelines like it across the country. Colonial Pipeline, he said, goes extremely overboard to make sure everything is done right and everything is safe. He described pipelines as a necessity of modern life. If we lined up trucks to transport our product from Louisiana and Texas to the East Coast, we wouldnt have any room on the interstate to run our cars, he said. Anything we do has got risk to it. Theres nothing that man makes that does not have a risk to it.

        Buck
        Buck Creek, a tributary of the Cahaba that runs through the town of Helena.
        Photographer: Christopher Gregory for Bloomberg Businessweek

        Dunn, Colonials spokeswoman, wouldnt say what specific actions the company will take to boost reliability. When incidents do occur, we investigate and determine the cause alongside government regulators, and take corrective actions based on lessons learned to minimize the likelihood of similar events happening again in the future. We are doing the same here, she wrote in an e-mail. After each previous major accident, the company agreed to improve safety practices as part of its settlement with federal regulators.

        This years incidents appear to be affecting the companys bottom line. In 2015, according to Moodys, Colonial spent $163 million on capital investments, which includes measures for system reliability. This year the figure is almost double that, roughly $300 million. Thats about the same amount the company has been returning to its shareholders in dividends in recent years, but Moodys notes that Colonial will reduce the payouts this year because of the accidents. Koch Industries declined to comment.
         
         
        Its possible that the presidency of Donald Trump will change the regulatory environment for pipelines, clearing the way for the Dakota Access to be completed and for the construction of the Keystone XL and other lines. But its unclear how much impact even a determined White House could have, given that most pipeline battles are fought at the lower levels of government. Moreover, gasoline supply crunches wont likely persuade the environmental groups that pressured President Obama to kill Keystone XL and are now protesting the Dakota Access to back down from their objections. My worries about infrastructure fragility tend more towards, say, the effects of rapid sea level rise on the nations coastal cities, wrote author and activist Bill McKibben, co-founder of the nonprofit 350.org, in an e-mail.

        Environmentalists fight, he pointed out, is about more than preventing leaksits a way to curb the construction of infrastructure that supports the oil and gas industry. The imperative need is to wean the world fast off fossil fuelsthis is the hottest year our planet has ever recorded, with record-low polar ice for the date, with massive droughts and floods, McKibben wrote. When we build new fossil fuel infrastructure we condemn the nation to another 40 or 50 years locked into the current way of doing business.

        For now, at least, the risks of climate change, water contamination, and species loss remain the trade-off for driving our cars and heating our homes. By Sunday, Nov. 6, the Colonial was up and running again. Gas prices had barely been disrupted, leaving some 50 million people to forget once again what an important role a single tube of steel and the company that owns it play in their daily lives.

        Butlers water tests from the accident site came back negative for gasoline. It was great news for him and the oblong rocksnail, but he wasnt celebrating. Instead, he was nervous that the next call from Colonial would be coming soon enough. The risk was always hanging out there, he said. Its sort of a guillotine.
         
        SoundCloud: Bloomberg Businessweek Cover Story by Bloomberg

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        A Blade Strikes Steel, and the Blast Shocks a Nations Energy System

        On Halloween afternoon, nine men arrived at a wooded ridgeline in rural Alabama. They parked their vehicles next to a gravel road, forming a loose circle of pickup trucks, a semi, and an earth-moving track hoe. A driver turned on the track hoe and drove it down into a long stretch of grass that ran along a hillsidethe right of way for the Colonial Pipeline, the largest gasoline pipeline in the U.S. Beneath the ground, a 3-foot-wide steel tube carried roughly 1.4 million barrels of gasoline each day to 50 million Americans in cities up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

        The men were there to conduct repairs. Just over a month before, the pipeline had sprung a leak, forcing a shutdown that caused gasoline reserves on the East Coast to fall from 64 million barrels to 55.5 million, the biggest one-week drop in U.S. history. Prices spiked at the pump in many cities from Atlanta to Jersey City. The leak had been fixed temporarily with a bypass, and now the crew was excavating about 5 miles from the original rupture to rebuild the stretch that had failed. They worked for a local contractor, L.E. Bell Construction, that the pipelines owner, Colonial Pipeline Co., had hired many times over the years.

        Among the team was Anthony Lee Willingham, a 48-year-old track hoe operator whod been with L.E. Bell for almost 30 years. He was familiar enough with the routine procedures of pipeline repair to have built a kind of muscle memory. If he was at the wheelthe company hasnt confirmed thishe would have known to operate the track hoe blade slowly, deliberately, without applying too much pressure. But somehow the blade struck steel, and the fuel ignited.

        At that moment, not far down the gravel road, a farmer named Douglas Wright was at home playing with his granddaughter. The explosion shook the house to its foundations. Wright looked outside and saw a column of flame rising hundreds of feet in the air. Black smoke billowed into the blue sky. He told his wife to take their granddaughter and drive as fast as possible, then he headed toward the fire, thinking to check on some elderly neighbors. As he got closer to the site, he heard screams. Wright arrived to find some of the workers on the ground, severely burned, as their uninjured colleagues tried frantically to move them away from the flames. The track hoe was charred. The semi was obliterated, and the pickup trucks were on fire. Amid the wreckage was the body of Willingham. Authorities were unable to collect his remains until the next day.

        Aftershocks quickly shuddered up the spine of Americas energy system. When gasoline traders realized that East Coast reserves were once again threatened, they started bidding up the price of fuel. In a matter of hours, the cost of a gasoline futures contract for December shot up 15 percent, the highest jump since the financial crisis in late 2008. Merchants scrambled to secure supplies from tankers carrying imported fuel, causing the cost of cargo freight from the Atlantic to surge more than a third, to about $17 per metric ton, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

        David
        David Butler, Riverkeeper for the Cahaba, downstream from a Colonial Pipeline explosion site.
        Photographer: Christopher Gregory for Bloomberg Businessweek

        The chaos revealed something millions of Americans had long been able to ignore: They depend on a single pipeline to deliver the gasoline that fuels their everyday lives. And that pipeline is operated by a single, little-known company with an increasingly troubled safety record. Built in 1962, the Colonial was the largest private-sector infrastructure project of its time. Roughly half of all refined fuel products used in cities from Georgia to New Jersey run through its 5,500 miles, which branch out from oil refineries in Texas and on the Gulf Coast to gas stations in Americas most populated corridor. In 1999, Colonial Pipeline paid a fine of $7 millionthe biggest ever at the timefor a massive spill in South Carolina. Four years later, it was fined $34 million, a new record, for spilling 1.45 million gallons of oil in five states.

        At the same time, Colonial has benefited from an increasingly dense regulatory environment for pipeline construction, which has helped protect it from competition and make it something of a piggy bank for its owners, to whom the company returns annual dividends that typically total about $300 million. Colonials pipeline consistently runs at 100 percent capacity, leaving gasoline refiners and fuel merchants, who pay transport rates in a manner akin to a toll road, vying for space. The company, headquartered in Alpharetta, a suburb of Atlanta, is privately held by a consortium of investors. The largest is Koch Industries, with a 28 percent stake; others include the private equity firm KKR, Shell Pipeline, and South Koreas National Pension Service.

        Tight capacity and the millions of gallons of new oil supplies produced by the U.S. shale boom have made some operators and industrial customers eager to build additional pipelines. Companies that rely on the Colonial, including American Airlines, are among those pressing for expansion. But although pipeline operators maintain that moving fuel underground is cheaper and safer than moving it by rail, barge, or truck, resistance to more construction has grown fierce, and not just in liberal communities. In addition to ongoing protests by Native American and environmental activists over the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, some deeply conservative Southern counties have opposed projects as well.
         
         
        Minutes after the explosion in Alabama, David Butlers cell phone started ringing. Butler is a local leader of Riverkeepers, an alliance of activists who protect watersheds and rivers around the country. As Riverkeeper for the Cahaba, which snakes between the sites of the Colonial gas leak in September and the explosion in October, he counts among his responsibilities testing for pollution and responding to reports of sewer leaks. Colonial had also enlisted him to help monitor for pollution from its line and with cleanup after spills. That afternoon, Butler and his wife, who live about 20 miles from the blast, were preparing to take their kids trick-or-treating. His daughter was going to be Little Red Riding Hood, his son the Big Bad Wolf.

        The first calls were from neighbors, asking if he knew what had happened. Then Colonial got in touch and confirmed that the fire had begun with an explosion. The implications were dire: Hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel could be pouring into nearby creeks and rivers, imperiling the Cahabas 173 species of fish and mussels, 14 of which are listed as threatened or endangered. The waterway is also home to the rare Cahaba river lily, which attracts thousands of tourists after it blooms each May. (Local drinking water supplies were safe, since theyre drawn from a river farther away.)

        First
        First responders at the Oct. 31 explosion.
        Source: Alabaster Fire Department/Reuters

        That evening, Butler arrived at the improvised command center Colonial had set up at a community building in the town of Pelham. After being cleared by security, he entered a large, gymnasium-like room where a disaster response team was working on a plan to contain the fire and assess the damage. Butler might have seemed out of place amid the fire department staff, pipeline personnel, and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and other government bodies. With his dark beard, wiry frame, and casual clothinghe often wears jeans and a yellow Riverkeeper T-shirthe typically looks like hes just finished a long hike. He also has the metabolism of a hummingbird, frequently fueling himself with Powerade and miniature chocolate-chip cookies.

        That first night, Butler worked with Colonial employees and environmental contractors until roughly 3 a.m. to draw a map that showed where gasoline might be leaking into the Cahaba. One point of concern was a creek near the explosion that fed into the river. This small stretch of water is the isolated habitat of the oblong rocksnail, a species thought to be extinct until a small population was found in 2011. Butler and Colonial decided that in the morning they would test strategic points along the waterways for the presence of fuel.

        As they worked that night, the fire was spreading along the hillside to nearby forested land. Alabama was in the middle of an historic drought, which had left the forest floor covered with dry tinder. About 31 acres of land were engulfed overnight. Butler considered it a stroke of luck that the fire wasnt encroaching on the suburban communities dotting the highways between the explosion and Helena, a town 21 miles south of Birmingham. Colonial had moved swiftly to shut off the flow of gasoline in the pipe, leaving it to burn itself out as firefighting crews doused the edges of the blaze and built earthen berms to contain the fountain of ignited fuel. When Butler arrived in the morning to start collecting water samples, the fire was largely contained, but it remained about 20 feet high.

        As he went from site to site, the early indications looked promising: no oily sheen on the water, no odor of gas. He did, however, notice a somber air among the pipeline employees and contractors. They seemed almost embarrassed, he thought. Colonial had been having a very bad year in Alabama. The company had already reported five leaks from its pipeline in 2016, one less in 10 months than it had had in the previous five years. In late January, the Colonial had discharged about 126 gallons of fuel into nearby wilderness. Several smaller spills followed, culminating in the big leak in September, when 309,540 gallons of gasoline poured out of the line, filling local ponds and forcing the shutdown.

        Records from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) show that nationally, the number of reported pipeline accidents has been creeping up every year since 2012, from 573 that year to 715 in 2015. The number of reported accidents along the Colonial has also been climbing (though not in a straight line), from 12 in 2011 to 27 in 2015. Their cost, too, has been increasing. Last year, incidents involving the Colonial led to $18.1 million in property damage and cleanup outlays, the highest total by far over the preceding decade. This year, the figure had already reached $75.6 million before the accident on Oct. 31.

        Colonial refused to comment on what caused the September leak or why accidents are up sharply in Alabama this year. Malesia Dunn, a spokeswoman for Colonial, said that the company is looking into the causes of both major incidents and cant comment until the investigation is further along. The PHMSA has yet to determine the cause of the September and October incidents and wouldnt comment either.

        Butler had worked with Colonial to contain the September leak. As bad as it was, he said, it could have been far worse. It had been discovered only by chance, by a state inspector who smelled gas fumes while doing unrelated work in the area. And because of the drought, the nearby ponds were low, which allowed them to become catchments for the spill. Had they been full, the gasoline might have flowed into the Cahaba.

        Dunn wouldnt discuss why the company failed to discover the September leak, but she stressed that it has an extensive detection system in place. The system includes pressure-monitoring equipment and flyover inspections, as well as training for local officials about Colonials operations, which lets them know who to call if they see something, she wrote in a statement. She added that a flyover inspection two days before hadnt spotted the leak.

        After the September spill was contained, Butler said, he had jokingly told Colonial employees, I hope I never see you again. Now, as they once again raced to keep the Cahaba River safe from a gas spill, it wasnt like, Hey, great to see you, he said. Its like, Here we are again.
         
         
        Accidents like the ones on the Colonial have galvanized opposition to pipeline construction across the country. In North Dakota, protesters have built huge encampments and blocked roads to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $4 billion project that would take crude oil from fracking wells in North Dakota to refineries and gasoline consumers in Illinois. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argue that the pipelines proposed route runs too close to the Missouri River, the source of their drinking water. On Nov. 15, hundreds of marchers closed down streets near the White House, while other rallies took place from Los Angeles to New York.

        The Colonials history suggests their fears are justified. The leak in South Carolina for which Colonial Pipeline paid its 1999 fine, for example, sent roughly 1 million gallons of diesel fuel into a local waterway, contaminating a 23-mile stretch of river and killing an estimated 35,000 fish, along with beavers, muskrats, and turtles. In settling with the U.S. Department of Justice, Colonial pleaded guilty to criminal neglect.

        Over the past three decades, incidents like these, and the resistance theyve spawned, have led to a much tighter regulatory environment for pipeline builders. Roger Williams, a pipeline developer from Wichita, said that in the mid-1980s he oversaw a project that laid 1,300 miles of pipe from Texas to California, crossing several states and a mountain range for good measure. At 85, hes now vice president for operations on the 178-mile Pilgrim Pipeline project, which would serve cities in New Jersey and New York. His team has spent millions just to get to the beginning of the permitting process, including money to hire herpetologists and other wildlife experts to examine the ecological impact of the new line. After more than three years of groundwork, Williams said, we dont have one single permit yet. In the meantime, the company has had to shut down a branch office in New York and lay off its staff. They protect everything up there except human beings, he said.

        Included
        Included in the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2016. Subscribe now.
        Photo illustration: Justin Metz

        New pipelines are being thwarted in the South, too. In May, Georgias Republican governor, Nathan Deal, signed a moratorium on pipeline permits following intense public opposition to a proposal by Kinder Morgan for a 360-mile pipeline called the Palmetto. The line would have branched off from the companys Plantation Pipe Line, tracing a route through Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, and serving cities with limited or no pipeline service, such as Savannah and Jacksonville. Opposition arose almost immediately, led in part by Tonya Bonitatibus, the Riverkeeper for the Savannah River. The Palmetto was to be buried beneath miles of marshy terrain that runs alongside sensitive riverswetlands that serve, Bonitatibus said, as the rivers liver and lungs, by letting pollutants settle out into sediment in the shallow, slow-moving water.

        While some of the anti-Palmetto movements concerns were environmental, their activism took on a conservative bent. Most of the resistance focused on Kinder Morgans authority to use eminent domain to take property from landowners who wouldnt cut a deal with the company, a power granted to pipeline companies by a New Deal-era law intended to spur infrastructure development. They were incredibly arrogant the entire time, Bonitatibus said. There was absolutely no way that Kinder Morgan should have access to eminent domain.

        Allen Fore, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, said that on a typical pipeline project the company uses eminent domain sparingly, invoking it for fewer than 5 percent of landowners. He added that the company had also been prepared to push ahead with Palmetto without eminent domain. But the activists message carried the day, and Deal passed his moratorium with the backing of conservative state legislators. Even with financing and a customer base locked in, the regulatory uncertainty was too great for Kinder Morgan to carry on. That, at the end of the day, was the problem of Palmettowhere you have a regulatory environment that shifts, Fore said. The playing field is not only altered, its basically shut down.
         
         
        In the days after the Alabama explosion, as Butler collected water samples, employees from Colonial and L.E. Bell raced to get gasoline flowing again. The lessons of the September shutdown were fresh in their minds. They knew that oil traders and wholesalers would be counting the minutes until the pipeline reopened.

        The gravel road to the accident site was guarded by a rotating shift of Shelby County sheriffs deputies, who checked credentials and kept strangers and reporters away. Traffic was almost nonstop. Heavy trucks with the L.E. Bell logo came and went, along with vehicles from specialists and construction companies from around the Southeast. The men and women driving looked stoic, ignoring reporters as they passed by the entrance. At the site, workers prepared new sections of pipeline while fire crews sprayed smoldering tree stumps to prevent reignition. In the predawn hours of Nov. 4, four days after the blaze erupted, it finally burned out completely. The next day, the new section of pipeline was tested and prepared for use.

        Employees of L.E. Bell appeared shellshocked in the days after the explosion. Word of Willinghams death had spread quickly, and four of his co-workers were being treated at a burn unit in downtown Birmingham. Trays of food and gallons of coffee were sent to provision family members as they held vigil. Those who knew Willingham seemed mystified by the accident, none more so than Jeremy Slaton, his next-door neighbor and close friend. The two often shot rifles together on a grassy hillside near their homes. Slaton recalled that Willingham could hit a target from several hundred yards away. Willingham was a steady hand and a competent worker, he said, which made him doubt that a simple mistaken swipe of the track hoe blade had been entirely to blame. It would take tremendous, tremendous force to put a back hoe, or a track hoe, tooth through a piece of pipe, he said. Im thinking theres something elsesomething was hidden that caused this.

        Shortly after the accident, Colonial released a statement saying that a track hoe had struck the pipeline, but the company didnt confirm that Willingham had been driving or otherwise elaborate. The company and the National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the accident, but neither would comment on their investigations or on the circumstances of the explosion.

        Larry Bell, the owner and operator of L.E. Bell Construction, declined to discuss the explosion in detail because of the legal troubles surrounding it. He would say only that it was a freak accident. He said, It had nothing to do with unsafe pipeline or workmanship. Im not a betting man, but youd win money on that.

        Bell lives on a large complex that also serves as his companys headquarters, on a winding country road near Heflin, an hour or so east of Birmingham. On the left as visitors enter is a giant warehouse and open lot. Next to that is a small office building, where visitors are greeted by a caged parrot. A sign taped to the front door shows a pile of cash below the caption, This is the money you couldve saved if you hadnt voted for Obama. To the right of the office is a palatial house. The mix of home and business, Bell said, was a country boys way of doing stuff. He was quick to point out that he and his wife were born poor and had been raised in a nearby small town. We didnt have no rich aunts or rich uncles or daddies but we had some good ones, he said.

        Bell dropped out of high school to work as a laborer on the Colonial in the early 1960s. He remembered when the pipeline ran its first gallons to fuel. His company now employs about 500 people, who help maintain the aging Colonial and other pipelines like it across the country. Colonial Pipeline, he said, goes extremely overboard to make sure everything is done right and everything is safe. He described pipelines as a necessity of modern life. If we lined up trucks to transport our product from Louisiana and Texas to the East Coast, we wouldnt have any room on the interstate to run our cars, he said. Anything we do has got risk to it. Theres nothing that man makes that does not have a risk to it.

        Buck
        Buck Creek, a tributary of the Cahaba that runs through the town of Helena.
        Photographer: Christopher Gregory for Bloomberg Businessweek

        Dunn, Colonials spokeswoman, wouldnt say what specific actions the company will take to boost reliability. When incidents do occur, we investigate and determine the cause alongside government regulators, and take corrective actions based on lessons learned to minimize the likelihood of similar events happening again in the future. We are doing the same here, she wrote in an e-mail. After each previous major accident, the company agreed to improve safety practices as part of its settlement with federal regulators.

        This years incidents appear to be affecting the companys bottom line. In 2015, according to Moodys, Colonial spent $163 million on capital investments, which includes measures for system reliability. This year the figure is almost double that, roughly $300 million. Thats about the same amount the company has been returning to its shareholders in dividends in recent years, but Moodys notes that Colonial will reduce the payouts this year because of the accidents. Koch Industries declined to comment.
         
         
        Its possible that the presidency of Donald Trump will change the regulatory environment for pipelines, clearing the way for the Dakota Access to be completed and for the construction of the Keystone XL and other lines. But its unclear how much impact even a determined White House could have, given that most pipeline battles are fought at the lower levels of government. Moreover, gasoline supply crunches wont likely persuade the environmental groups that pressured President Obama to kill Keystone XL and are now protesting the Dakota Access to back down from their objections. My worries about infrastructure fragility tend more towards, say, the effects of rapid sea level rise on the nations coastal cities, wrote author and activist Bill McKibben, co-founder of the nonprofit 350.org, in an e-mail.

        Environmentalists fight, he pointed out, is about more than preventing leaksits a way to curb the construction of infrastructure that supports the oil and gas industry. The imperative need is to wean the world fast off fossil fuelsthis is the hottest year our planet has ever recorded, with record-low polar ice for the date, with massive droughts and floods, McKibben wrote. When we build new fossil fuel infrastructure we condemn the nation to another 40 or 50 years locked into the current way of doing business.

        For now, at least, the risks of climate change, water contamination, and species loss remain the trade-off for driving our cars and heating our homes. By Sunday, Nov. 6, the Colonial was up and running again. Gas prices had barely been disrupted, leaving some 50 million people to forget once again what an important role a single tube of steel and the company that owns it play in their daily lives.

        Butlers water tests from the accident site came back negative for gasoline. It was great news for him and the oblong rocksnail, but he wasnt celebrating. Instead, he was nervous that the next call from Colonial would be coming soon enough. The risk was always hanging out there, he said. Its sort of a guillotine.
         
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        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-11-23/a-blade-strikes-steel-and-the-blast-shocks-a-nation-s-energy-system