In this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, Robin Rorick of API returns to the show to discuss the new API RP 1185 for public engagement.
In this episode you’ll learn more about the new RP, why API put together an RP for public engagement, and important aspects of stakeholder engagement.
API RP 1185 Public Engagement Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms:
- Robin Rorick is the Vice President of Midstream Policy at the American Petroleum Institute (API), the largest trade association of roughly 600 companies, representing all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry.
- API (American Petroleum Institute): Since its formation in 1919 as a standards-setting organization, API has developed more than 800 standards to enhance industry operations. Today, it is the global leader in convening subject matter experts to establish, maintain, and distribute consensus standards for the oil and natural gas industry.
- API RP 1185 aims to use the Pipeline SMS framework to build on stakeholder engagement to support more community involvement and dialogue.
- Right-of-Way is a strip of land encompassing buried pipelines and other natural gas equipment allowing them to be permanently located on public and/or private land to provide natural gas service.
- PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) ensures the safe transportation of energy and hazardous materials.
- The Inflation Reduction Act The Inflation Reduction Act contains $500 billion in new spending and tax breaks that aim to boost clean energy, reduce healthcare costs, and increase tax revenues.
- Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
- Fair treatment means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.
- FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) regulates, monitors, and investigates electricity, natural gas, hydropower, oil matters, natural gas pipelines, LNG terminals, hydroelectric dams, electric transmission, energy markets, and pricing.
- The Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle (PDCA) is embedded in Pipeline SMS as a continuous quality improvement model consisting of a logical sequence of four repetitive steps for continuous improvement and learning
- GIS (Geographic Information System) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.
- 811 (Call Before You Dig) is the federally designated call-before-you-dig phone number, designed to make the notification step of the safe excavation process as easy as possible. A person is required to call the 811 number 48 to 72 hours before beginning any excavation or digging projects to allow time for locators to mark the approximate location of any buried infrastructure before excavation begins. Prior to the implementation of 811, people who dug had to know one-call center’s 800 number, or notify utilities individually.
API RP 1185 Public Engagement Full Episode Transcript:
Russel Treat: Welcome to the “Pipeliners Podcast,” episode 278, sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, driving safety, environmental protection, and sustainability across the natural gas and oil industry through world-class standards and safety programs.
Since its formation as a standard-setting organization in 1919, API has developed more than 800 standards to enhance industry operations worldwide. Find out more about API at API.org.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. Now your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to the Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time. To show appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode.
This week, our winner is Dakota Brothers with CPE Mid-Con. Congratulations, Dakota. Your YETI is on its way. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around till the end of the episode.
This week, Robin Rorick from API returns to talk to us about the new API 1185 Recommended Practice for public engagement. Robin, welcome back to The Pipeliners Podcast.
Robin Rorick: Thanks. Thanks for having me back. It’s great to be back with you and to chat with you and your audience.
Russel: Last time you were on, we talked about right-of-way conservation and some of the cool projects that you have had some experience with. Before we get into the new topic, I thought I’d just follow up. What’s new in that domain?
Robin: We’ve made some good progress. We’ve had a number of companies throughout the industry and across the country participate in the initiative. We’ve got a variety of projects that are launching this year.
Last year, 2022, was a forming and norming year, and I think this is going to be a year of implementation. We’ve got everything from one member company of ours that has assessed all 10,000-plus miles of pipeline that they have, and they’ve made a commitment to do conservation on a significant portion of that.
We’ve got other companies looking at activities up in Minnesota, some work in Pennsylvania, some work in Louisiana.
We’ve established partnerships with a number of academic institutions such as the Ohio State University, UNC, NC State, University of Illinois, Penn State. We’ve also established quite good partnerships with a number of conservation organizations. We started talking to both state and federal agencies.
We’ve made some really, really good progress. I’m pleased that the companies are starting to move forward with these initiatives. In fact, we’re seeing that the companies are moving even faster than we had anticipated.
It’s a pretty exciting time. I think the companies really are starting to see the value of doing these conservation efforts on their right-of-ways and on their other assets. We’re starting to see some increased opportunities and engagement with the public, as well. It’s proving to be quite a successful program already.
Russel: It sounds like it. That’s a lot, just in the short time since we last talked. That’s awesome.
I asked you to come on to talk about the new recommended practice for public awareness. I actually think talking about conservation a little bit’s a nice segue because doing public engagement as opposed to public awareness is a different thing.
Maybe a good place to start is to ask you why we need a recommended practice for public engagement?
Robin: To be a little bit clear, there’s a couple of things that are probably worth highlighting. There are some regulatory requirements for public engagement. Usually, this is more of an annual check-in thing that PHMSA requires. A lot of companies fulfill that obligation by sending mailers out to their right-of-way owners, making sure they’re aware they’ve got a pipeline in their backyard, that they know who to call and that sort of thing.
I speak at a lot of events, Russel. I always ask people, in part just because I love the anecdotal data points for me. It never ceases to get old. I always ask the people how many miles of pipeline do we have in this country.
I typically get these answers like 2,000 miles, 5,000 miles, 500 miles. Every now and then you get this person who thinks they’re a joker and they say 50,000 miles. They think they’re really funny.
When I tell them that we have 500,000 miles of transmission line alone, they’re blown away. I tell that, also…I think it’s also important to tell that story to our industry. I’ve told it to the executives that I engage with because the point that I…
I use that story and that question to point out to the public that not only have we developed a robust infrastructure system in this country, it operates on a daily basis, delivering products. Energy products, whether they’re natural gas, crude oil, or any of their constituencies throughout the country, affordably and reliably deliver the energy that everyone takes for granted and uses.
We are happy to provide. The fantastic people in our industry work so hard to ensure that we provide it.
That’s the message that I use with that audience, but I use that story, also, with our member companies because I want to illustrate the point that we’ve built that 500,000 miles of pipeline and 1.8 million miles if you add in transmission and gathering. Largely, people don’t know.
We’ve built a lot of that infrastructure under the radar, not because that was our objective, but that’s just because of the way…
Russel: That’s just the nature of how it works, right?
Russel: Underground infrastructure, you just don’t know it’s there.
Robin: Correct. Nowadays, you can’t do anything on a pipeline, seemingly, without it becoming information for everyone. Social media picks up on it. Opposition groups have gotten really good about it. It’s become the news here in Washington, DC. We’re talking about permitting reform. We’ve had a number of projects that have been canceled. Anytime one gets approved and moved forward, it’s big news. You really can’t do anything on a pipeline.
What the industry has recognized is that we need to do a better job of communicating with the public. Making sure they understand the importance of oil and gas. Making sure they understand the role that pipelines play.
That’s the incentive and the objective behind it. I will tell you, also, and I know we’ll get into it, that this is a big issue that the regulators at the federal and state are focused on. It’s not a, “Are we going to do safety or public engagement.” It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and.
We need to make sure that we have our commitment to safety, but we’re equally as committed to engaging with the public wherever we can.
Russel: I think there’s a huge opportunity for pipeliners to partner more effectively. It’s not like we don’t do it now. We do, but there’s a huge opportunity to partner more effectively and to partner with more people.
With some of the new technologies around social media, geo-locating, and things, some of this is getting easier. It’s easier to locate those people that are adjacent to the right-of-ways that are impacted by pipeline operations. It’s easier to communicate with them than it used to be.
You still have to cut through all the noise because there’s so much more communication, but there are a lot more possibilities and opportunities than there ever have been.
Robin: I think that’s 100 percent accurate. I also think that we have a challenge in this particular segment of our industry because we work on linear infrastructure. What I mean by that is we’re not working on a facility that is in one location and within a county, within a district.
You’re working on a pipeline that’s hundreds, if not thousands, of miles long. You’re going to be going through some communities that are very supportive of the industry and some communities that are not, and everything in-between.
A couple of years ago, the members got together and a number of the experts pulled together a guidance document that was really providing guidance to the companies on how to do effective public and community engagement to construct a pipeline.
If you’re going to build a pipeline, what does that initial community engagement look like, etc. Then, it became very obvious that we needed to do something more thorough. We’ve launched an initiative where we’re going to develop a more formal recommended practice. There’s a whole bunch of requirements that surround that.
This is for the entire life cycle of the pipeline. This isn’t just for construction. This is construction and operation. It’s laying out those things that companies should consider as they’re developing their public and community engagement programs for not only the 4 to 6 years to permit and construct your pipeline, but then the 40 to 60 years that you’re planning on operating, and then ultimately decommissioning your line.
We’re in the throes of it right now. We’ve got our first draft that’s just been reviewed, and validated. We’ve got probably a little over a thousand comments that we’re sorting through. Our expectation is that we’re going to get this thing wrapped up by the end of this year. That’s our hope.
Russel: What is the industry interest in doing this as opposed to…This is what I make up. Maybe it’s not accurate, but I think if you listen to the general conversation about pipelining, it’s pretty clear to understand the regulators, why they’re interested, why NGOs and others that are interested in what the industry is doing, why they might be interested.
What’s in it for the industry? What’s the value to the industry for putting together a recommended practice in public engagement and trying to implement that?
Robin: There’s a handful of things. First of all, the public and the community engagement piece of it is a lot softer, it’s a lot squishier than, let’s say, some of the safety issues that we work on.
If there’s a safety risk that needs to be addressed, oftentimes it’s addressed by doing an assessment and figuring out that we need a new widget of some sort or we need to change a practice. It’s pretty straightforward.
You can easily assess the cost and the benefits, whereas with public engagement, more effective public and community engagement, ultimately the result is things not happening. It gets a lot harder to measure success.
How many lawsuits didn’t occur? How many upset communities don’t exist because a company has good public and community engagement?
Russel: How many projects didn’t get slowed down or stopped?
Robin: Correct, and it’s not even that black and white, how much could a project have gotten slowed down, but it got slowed down a little bit less? It’s a lot harder because you’re trying to prove something that didn’t happen.
Part of the objective here is to try to provide some clear direction in helping, but in a flexible and scalable manner, to companies so that they can develop their own effective community and public engagement programs.
Why do I stress and slow down when I say flexible and scalable? Because as you and all your listeners know, all pipelines aren’t the same.
You can imagine that if you’ve got a small diameter gathering line that’s operating under minimal pressures in a rural area in the Midwest, you’re going to need a completely different program than if you have a new greenfield pipeline that’s a 36-inch high-pressure gas line that’s going near a high-consequence area, highly populated area in an urban area somewhere in the South.
The idea is to provide some direction to companies as they’re developing their programs to make sure that they’re asking the right questions, and that they’re considering the right things as they’re doing their assessments and designing their programs. That’s one major issue.
The other major opportunity here is, just as we do on safety, Russel, with regards to sharing and learning information, we’re also providing not just an RP that’s going to sit on the shelf, but hopefully, a movement that the companies can get behind and start getting together and sharing information.
Saying, “Here’s what we did that worked well. Here’s what we did that didn’t work well,” so that the companies can begin to learn. The third thing that becomes critically important is that effective or ineffective public and community engagement has become a reputational challenge, not just for an individual company, but for the entire industry.
As certain companies may invest a ton of resources, whether it’s dollars, people, or whatever, to do effective community engagement, that can all be taken away with one company that does ineffective community engagement. Just like safety, we are viewed as good as our worst performers, let’s say.
Russel: There’s a lot about that in the energy business. The best players in the energy business are the ones whose names you never hear. That’s the culture we lived in. That’s where we’ve been for the last 30 or 40 years.
You just didn’t want to be in the news cycle, and now you don’t have control over that the same way you used to. You’re going to be in the news cycle, so you need to be ahead of what that means to be in the news cycle and have a relationship with the community when and if that occurs.
Robin: Communities aren’t all the same, as we’re all aware.
Russel: They have different concerns. An agricultural community is different from a city, and is different from a suburb. Being in the Rocky Mountains is different than being in South Texas.
Robin: One of the things that we’re also seeing, too, a couple of thoughts here, public and community engagement is coming up everywhere. PHMSA, as the regulator, is considering it more and more.
The Department of Energy, who’s on the hook, been put on the hook by the Biden Administration to utilize all of this Inflation Reduction Act funding to support low-carbon infrastructure development, that sort of thing.
They are also considering the Department of Energy now, they’re actually considering developing a public engagement department at the Department of Energy so that as they’re working with oil and gas operators to develop carbon and hydrogen pipelines, they’re also providing guidance to the industry on effective public engagement.
Whether we want to do it or not, individual companies want to do it or not, it’s there. I don’t think we’re going to be able to avoid it. Similarly, the concept of environmental justice is everywhere right now.
Russel: I recently did a podcast on environmental justice on the “Pipeline Technology Podcast.” Maybe you could give everybody a definition of what that is.
For a lot of us, that’s a new buzzword. It’s a new vocabulary.
Robin: I laugh a little bit because we had a bunch of executives in town last July and we met with representatives from the White House, from the Environmental Protection Agency, from FERC, and from PHMSA. All four of the agencies said, “Environmental justice is a critical issue for us.”
The buzzword on environmental justice and the whole point of environmental justice is to encourage companies, not just our industry, but engagement across the board for any industry or any operator of any company, manufacturing, railroad, whatever, to do “meaningful engagement” with disadvantaged communities.
That term, meaningful engagement, we pressed all four of those agencies on meaningful engagement. Not one of those agencies could give us a textbook definition of what meaningful engagement is.
Then we also asked those agencies, “If you can’t give us a definition of meaningful engagement, can you at least point to a company or an industry that does it well, so we can take a look at what they’re doing and see if we can replicate it or what it means?” Not one of them could give us an example of a company or organization that does it well.
However, more and more, I’m hearing about our companies being held to a standard where they have to get a permit renewed, let’s say as an example, and the permit renewal is getting denied because they didn’t do sufficient environmental justice engagement. When they’ve gone back to the agency to say, “OK, well tell us what that means,” the agency’s response was, “Well, we’ll know good when we see it.”
For companies that are operating in infrastructure and other businesses, you can’t operate on a regulatory requirement of “good when we see it'” for a whole host of reasons that we all understand. What we’ve decided to do as an industry is say, “OK. You know what? Why don’t we define what it is, and why don’t we bring our best minds together, and we can figure out what that path forward looks like.”
That’s what we’re doing. RP 1185 which we were talking about, is a part of that, and EJ is woven throughout there. We’re also going to be looking to develop a framework on how to do effective environmental justice engagement.
We’re not going to be doing this in a box. We’re going to be engaging with the federal government, we’re going to be engaging with community organizations, pipeline safety trust, and other EJ expert communities.
The idea is to develop something and really say, “OK, well, if it’s going to take the federal agencies years to figure this out, then the states have to figure it out, then the federal agencies have to coordinate with each other, and then they have to coordinate with the states.” That assumes that everything is static, and we don’t have elections, and we don’t have changes in leadership, then great, we’ll be set.
I think, as an industry, we’re not willing to wait around for that. Here’s an opportunity for us to set the pace. We’ve actually gotten a lot of accolades and props from a lot of these federal agencies for picking up the mail and running with it. I’m pleased with the progress we’re making, but it is hard, hard work to develop this stuff.
Russel: Again, speaking as a novice in this domain, certainly it seems sometimes that we get these programs or conversations out of the regulator or the government communities and they’re notional. They’re good ideas and they have justification behind them, but they’re notional.
Then, we, as an industry, in order to be able to get it to something that can actually be executed, monitored, and improved, we’ve got to formalize it. We’ve got to say, “What the heck does that mean?”
This is thematic. You go through the history of the oil and gas business, we’ve done this over and over and over and over again in many different domains where the public had a concern. The government said, “This is what you need to do.” We went, “What does that mean? Tell us what success looks like.” They’re like, “Well, we’ll know it when we see it.”
We’re engineers, right? We can’t manage to do that so we have to define that. Then, what we know to be true, and this goes to the whole PDCA cycle and pipeline safety management, is if we get something defined and we start doing and we review it, we can get better. We’ll never make progress if we’re shooting at a target that’s not defined.
Robin: We’re designing 1185 with that plan-do-check-act cycle that you talked about with that exact same mindset. The idea is to recognize that public engagement is something that evolves. It’s a maturity curve. You follow the same process that we do on safety, which is you develop your plan. Your plan is as informed as it can be. You implement your plan.
Then, at some point, you’re going to assess your plan’s effectiveness to see where it’s working and where it’s not. Then, you’re going to make your adjustments. Then, you’re going to start that cycle all over again.
Really, what we’re ultimately doing, and you really hit on it, is we’re saying that public engagement isn’t a one-and-done type thing. It is an ongoing commitment. Where our industry is headed, and I think, frankly, Russel, all industries are headed this way, is if you view public engagement as a check-the-box exercise…We knocked on their door. We talk to someone. We’re done. Then, you’re going to run into problems at some point.
This is a “How can we develop a sustainable program that’s not transactional, that’s truly based on relationships?” That’s really what our objective is here.
Russel: A couple of comments about this. This is a programmatic requirement.
Russel: It’s not like a construction standard or integrity management standard that’s kind of project-centric. This is program-centric. It’s about building an industry capability. That’s the first thing.
Russel: We’ve got the experience and track record of doing that and doing it well. Largely through the work of API and all the committee work that goes on, we’re actually picking up speed as an industry in those domains.
What I do think, though, that’s unique about this is this is a human…It’s a softer subject. Softer is not really the right word, but this is a social science kind of subject. It is not an engineering kind of subject.
We have to build capabilities. To build capabilities, the industry needs a lot of guidance and help to figure out what kind of capabilities do we actually have to build. What kind of people do we need on our teams? What competencies and skill sets and all of that do we need to be able to do this effectively?
Robin: To your point, it’s a completely different science that’s not nearly as predictable and repeatable. What do I mean by that? You’re dealing with human behavior, not physics. If you think you can…
This is what fascinates me. I have and I continue to believe that we have some of the most brilliant minds throughout our industry who have done amazing things to figure out how to take the molecule out of the ground and produce energy, plastics, and all sorts of things.
We’ve overcome terrains. We’ve overcome depths. We’ve overcome the heat. We’ve overcome the cold. We’ve done all of these things. If you were to put a challenge to our industry from an engineering standpoint, I’m positive that we have the intelligence to do it and the capability in the field to do it safely and maintain it.
To your point, this sort of human element is a lot less predictable. It’s a lot softer. That’s the best word I can come up with, as well. It is not as consistent of a science that we’re used to. I think our industry struggles with this a bit more.
Russel: I think that’s absolutely right. I know when I came out of engineering school, I had no interest in managing people, leading people, or learning anything about that. I wanted to go build stuff. I went to engineering school to be an engineer and build stuff.
That’s still a big part of who I am. I think that kind of way of thinking is a predominant way of thinking, if you will, in our business. We do the things we do because we like working with stuff.
We’re finding that for our industry to get to where it needs to be in the next decade and the decade after that, it’s going to be less about…It’s not like that aspect’s going to diminish, but we have to add this whole people…
Robin: It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.
Russel: Exactly. Well said. It’s both/and. It’s a new and different kind of capability. I think one of the messages I want pipeliners to take away from this conversation is we’ve got to get over the disdain for people who do this kind of stuff because they’re really important to our overall success.
I say disdain. That may be too harsh, but I think people know where I’m coming from.
Robin: You’ve got to get over the discomfort. It’s different. What we’re talking about, ultimately, is a culture change in our industry. Changing culture and changing behavior…Change, in general, is difficult. Changing culture and changing behavior is really difficult.
Ask my wife. She’s been trying to change my behavior for quite some time, just banging her head against the wall.
There are a couple of examples and anecdotes that I would just fly for you. Imagine if you had…You could have a doctor that’s working with you who’s the most brilliant doctor in the world, but if that doctor, if she or he doesn’t have great bedside manner, you really struggle working with that doctor.
Conversely, if you have a doctor that’s got a fantastic bedside manner, but doesn’t know what they’re doing, that’s not going to help you get better either. You need both.
The other example that I use, too, is I might live in a neighborhood where I’ve got a neighbor on one side to whom I talk every now and then to. When I talk to them, it’s a quick wave, if they wave at all, and then I go into the house. That’s a transactional relationship where I’m being nice just because I got to be nice.
My other neighbor I’ve got this great relationship with, he and I are catching up, and then if something happens at home and I need help with something, he’s going to be the first person to run over and give me a hand.
If, for no other reason, because my relationship isn’t this I’m going to wave at you when I’m going in the door, or ignore you, or act like I don’t see you. We’ve actually got a good relationship. We believe, as an industry, that we should have that, too. We just now have to act on it. We just have to shift and now have to develop the relationships.
Russel: You got to figure out how to do it.
Robin: We have companies who are doing a great job at it. I have a number of member companies who are doing a fantastic job at it, and I know of some companies who are not as good at it. Part of this effort, Russel, is to create that rising tide for the industry.
The other thing, too, and we touched on it before, is what we’re hearing from our members at API is we don’t build pipelines and infrastructure on two to four-year election cycles. We can’t operate.
We can’t get projects permitted, built, and then operate them, and then have to change direction every time we go from a Republican to a Democrat, or a Democrat to Republican, or someone who loves the industry or someone who hates the industry.
It’s not so much that we need people who love our industry all the time as much as it is this constant contraction and expansion of requirements, whether it’s at the federal and state level and when you overlay those things on each other…
Russel: Robin, that is such an excellent, excellent point. I haven’t heard it put that way before. We have to have a longer-term view, and we’ve got to build relationships against a longer-term view. That is it in a nutshell, because we’re going to ride those cycles as an industry.
We’re going to ride those cycles, but we’re still going to have the same infrastructure in the same place with largely the same neighbors.
Robin: What I talk to our member companies about is what our objective is through 1185, our RP on public community engagement through our work on EJ is to identify, what is that North Star that we’re going to? We’re always going to head to that North Star.
The political pendulum may swing, and that may cause us to deviate a little bit on our journey to the North Star, but we’re always headed towards the North Star. I know we can do it. You know how I know we do it? We could do it because we did it on safety, where we set our North Star on safety.
When you talked about pipeline safety management systems, we set our North Star on safety. Of course, we’re going to deviate from that path a little bit.
Russel: That’s interesting because this kind of conversation, it’s a bit countercultural, given what’s going on in the broader context because the idea of having a principle or a goal I’m striving for, and yet I’m falling short, but I’m still striving for the goal.
I’m going to get a little philosophical here, but it’s one of the beautiful things about the Constitution. It is an aspirational document. It’s a legal document, but it’s aspirational. This is what we should aspire to as a society.
Robin: It’s a great example because our Founding Fathers developed that constitution recognizing that our government and our country were not going to be static entities, that they were going to change and evolve over time.
Russel: They put things in there knowing full well that in that time, they weren’t living up to the aspiration, but they felt the aspiration was correct.
Robin: Right. I believe, as an industry, we have done that successfully on safety. At no point would we ever go to someone in our industry, to a pipeliner and say, “We’re done with safety. We’ve figured out the Rubik’s Cube of pipeline safety. We’re done.”
I don’t think anybody would say that because we’re committed to constantly improving. Despite how great our record is on safety, we are constantly committed to doing better because it’s the right thing to do.
Russel: You know what the difference between a professional golfer is and a Saturday golfer?
Robin: Which one are you? I don’t golf.
Russel: I’m a Saturday golfer at best. It illustrates the point. The Saturday golfer sits in the clubhouse and they talk about, “Oh, man, I parred these two holes.” The professional golfer sits in the clubhouse and says, “Man, I bogeyed this hole because I did this little thing with my swing.”
They focus on where they need to get better versus where I did well. The whole programmatic thing is it’s all about, “Here’s our aspiration, let’s get something in place, and then focus on how to get better.”
Robin: I was out in the field out in Denver about a month ago, and I was talking to a company who put in a new piece of equipment at multiple locations at different facilities. They kept getting these false positives, and they were running around trying to figure out why they were getting all these false positives.
They were walking me through it, and I stopped and I asked the guy one day. I asked him when he was telling me about it, I said, “That must have been really frustrating.” He said, “You know, it was frustrating, but it didn’t bother us at all.”
I said, “Really? It didn’t bother you? You were running around from facility to facility trying to figure out why you’re getting all these false readings.” He’s like, “No, it didn’t bother me because it’s the right thing to do.”
I think that is the mentality — it’s not I think — I know that is the mentality that our industry has had, and our record proves it.
Russel: Now, we’ve got to start taking that way of operating and put it into new disciplines and new domains to get better.
Russel: There’s a huge opportunity. If we have effective relationships with our partners, and stakeholders, and neighbors, and they feel good about that partnership, they’re actually going to help us out. They’re going to help us get better.
Robin: I’ll give you a great example, and it gets back to what we started this conversation with, Russel, where you asked me about our update on our conservation work.
We have companies right now that are engaging with their people who own the right-of-ways along their pipeline, and they’re trying to figure out, “What is important to you?”
For some of these people, they may say, “Well, I’ve got a beehive on my property, and I’d love some pollinator habitats.” The company said, “Great. We’ll plant some wildflowers on your right-of-way.
They geo-locate it on their map with GIS, so that when and if the mowers come through, they’ll go around that location. The right-of-way owner loves it because you actually listen to the right-of-way owner, and they’re growing some pollinator-species plants that they love.
The company loves it because they’ve got a better relationship with the right-of-way owner and they’re not mowing it, so that’s money saved.
You go down a few doors, and then for their engagement, they talk to the right-of-way owner and that right-of-way owner could care less about pollinator species. That one’s a hunter. What that guy really wants is to attract more deer and turkey to his property or near his property so he can hunt.
In that instance, what this company is doing is they’ve partnered with a conservation organization. At the beginning of every growing season, that right-of-way owner gets a package in the mail with that company’s name, it’s got their number on who to call if there’s an issue with the right-of-way, it’s got a reminder to call 811 before they dig, and it’s also got a notice in there that they’re providing them with this package in partnership with a conservation organization.
When they open up the package, it’s got a seed mix in there that they plant that’s perfect for attracting whitetail deer and turkey. The right-of-way owner plants it, the company geo-locates that on their mapping system. They don’t know mow that either, so it’s one less property for them to mow. The right-of-way owner loves it because now they’re growing a food plot for the deer and for the turkey. These are not expensive initiatives.
Russel: No. They’re actually money-saving.
Robin: They’re actually saving a lot of money.
Russel: Saving operating money, which is the most expensive kind of money for a pipeline operator.
Robin: Correct. It doesn’t take that much more work, actually. The hardest thing that they’re finding that they’re struggling with right now is that they’ve got more of their right-of-way owners calling them and saying, “Hey, we want to do this with our right-of-way. Can we work with you to do this?” All of the requests are reasonable.
It’s things like, “I got kudzu growing in my yard from that right-of-way, and it’s taken over everything. Can you help us out?” The pipeliner will say, “Yeah,” because they don’t want that stuff growing in the right-of-way either. There’s a lot of win-wins here and there’s some really good opportunities.
Russel: I think that’s a great place to wrap this conversation, Robin. What pipeline operators ought to know about this is, this is coming, and there’s a bunch of opportunities in it. We’ll be looking for it.
I think once it releases, it’d probably be good to get you to come back and maybe bring one or two folks off the committee, and we’ll talk about the details of what’s actually in the standard.
That might be helpful for the listeners. Your passion on the subject makes this conversation just fun.
Robin: You’ll be hearing a lot more of it. The one thing I’ll say is, not only is it coming, but it’s not going to be going away. As I said, I’m confident we can figure it out. I appreciate, Russel, you taking the time to have this conversation. It’s probably not the most interesting conversation for some of your listeners, but it is topical, I will say that.
Russel: We have a broad range of listeners. I was just talking to Greg Dunn, who’s the guy that helps me with all the back-office stuff related to the podcast and how close we’re getting to almost 300 episodes.
We have covered a wide range of topics. Some of them are very technical and some of them are not very technical. Hopefully, it’s all information and it’s valuable. Ultimately, I think pipeline operators that like this business and listen to this show, they want to learn.
Robin: Thanks for the work that you do in helping us to communicate what’s going on in the industry. Really, really appreciate it, Russel.
Russel: Thank you, Robin. Look forward to hearing more when this comes out.
Robin: All right, we’ll talk to you soon.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, and our conversation with Robin. Just a reminder, before you go, you should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler.
Simply visit PipelinePodcastNetwork.com/Win and enter yourself in the drawing. If you’d like to support this podcast, please leave us a review. You can do that wherever you happen to listen.If you have questions, ideas, or topics you’d be interested in hearing about please let me know either on the Contact Us page at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com, or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week.