In early October 2014, the BLM significantly reduced the safety requirements for the Big Flat pipeline at the request of Fidelity Exploration & Production. The safety of over 500,000 visitors a year in the Big Flat area is now secondary to the needs of an out-of-state oil company. The BLM over a year ago promised Moab and the visitors to the area that the pipeline would be built to the high safety standards of a transmission pipeline. The BLM has eliminated many of the high standards previously promised.
The principal changes are:
1: The BLM will allow the pipeline to be built with material that may be old, obsolete and far below the promised federal standards. 2: The BLM will allow the pipeline to be built without the strong anchors and supports previously required. 3: The BLM reduced the maintenance requirements over the life of the pipeline. 4: The BLM allows for less qualified personnel to operate the line for the next 10 to 20 years. 5: The BLM allows the operator to have no continuous surveillance of the pipeline, no damage prevention program, no emergency plans, no public awareness of the project and no investigation of failures.
There is a possibility that the pipeline may be constructed with old and obsolete parts, laid on the ground without adequate supports, not maintained in the future to the highest standards, operated by unqualified or less qualified personnel with little surveillance for problems, and with no prevention plans or emergency plan to solve future problems.
After making all the changes above, the BLM still said that the impacts to the public from approval of the changes “would be small with respect to safety.” I personally do not believe them. The BLM office should not place the safety of 500,000 people secondary to the financial needs of an oil company.