Why pipeline critics are important

Pipeline companies know they have work to do if they want to earn the trust of Canadians. That’s why the industry is listening thoughtfully to its critics.

This year, CEPA named an External Advisory Panel (EAP) made up of pipeline critics and stakeholders who will meet regularly to share their perspectives and concerns with CEPA.

“I believe that only when citizens, industry and regulators are willing to embrace the conflicts that currently keep us apart, and discuss and deal with those conflicts in a constructive way, can true trust in pipeline safety be achieved,” said Carl Weimer, an EAP panelist and the executive director of Pipeline Safety Trust, a U.S. based advocacy group formed after three people were killed in a pipeline explosion in Bellingham, Washington, in 1999.

What is CEPA’s External Advisory Panel all about?

The EAP is an eight-member panel made up of people from a variety of stakeholder groups including aboriginal peoples, academia, media and landowner groups. These stakeholders, who work outside the industry, will help determine priorities for CEPA Integrity First®, a program through which pipeline companies work together to continuously improve both their individual and collective performance. The panel will also have direct access to CEPA’s board of directors.

“The EAP will provide the leaders of our industry with direct insights from a broad range of stakeholders that are vitally important to the future of our industry,” said Jim Donihee, CEPA’s chief operating officer. “Having credible, respected critics come together with members of our board serves to highlight valuable intersection points that we need to pursue as we work to build trust in the pipeline industry across Canada.”

The EAP is all about collaboration, dialogue and improved relations between pipeline operators and the public.

The power of perspective

Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust

Carl Weimer, executive director of Pipeline Safety Trust and member of CEPA’s External Advisory Panel (EAP)

Each of the eight EAP panelists brings a different perspective to important pipeline issues. Together, these independent voices will help CEPA and its members improve in areas such as safety, environment and socio-economic practices.

“I wanted to ensure that the voice of concerned citizens was well represented on the EAP and that lessons hard learned in the United States are shared with those on the panel and within CEPA,” said Weimer about the main reason he chose to take part the CEPA’s EAP.

Weimer’s concerns with the industry are around transparency and pipeline safety, and he believes that working with the industry is the most direct route to meaningful change.

“The Pipeline Safety Trust has had a good deal of success in the United States gaining greater transparency of information on pipelines, and it appears this is an area where Canada has some catching up to do,” said Weimer. “If my participation on the EAP achieves nothing else, I hope I can move greater transparency of information forward in Canada.”

Really listening

As you can see, CEPA did not recruit industry cheerleaders for its EAP. The reason? In order to identify the real issues concerning Canadians, CEPA needs a variety of perspectives.

“By working with the members of the EAP, we hope to deepen our understanding of how best to achieve what all Canadians expect of our industry,” said Donihee.

Hear what pipeline critics have to say

In the coming weeks, CEPA’s blog will feature more interviews with members of the EAP. We want to be transparent by telling you what critics are saying about the industry.

Want to read the full interview with Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust? Click here.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2013, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.