FERC ON DANGEROUS GROUND WITH MOVE TOWARD SECRECY

Bob Tippee

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has strayed into dangerous territory with its proposal to limit access to information on energy infrastructure.

In fact, the commission's proposed expansion of official secrecy is more dangerous than the terrorist threat to which it responds.

The terrorist threat is real, of course. It must be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly.

But compromising core principles of democratic governance is no way to go about the task.

FERC on Sept. 5 issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that is supposed to "safeguard" what the commission calls critical energy infrastructure information (CEII).

The rulemaking would increase the difficulty of retrieving public information about "critical infrastructure" that, in FERC's words:

  • Relates to the production, generation, transportation, transmission, or distribution of energy.
  • Could be useful to a person in planning an attack on critical infrastructure.
  • Is exempt from mandatory disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • And gives strategic information beyond the location of the critical infrastructure.

Any such move away from information disclosure, even for the sake of security in perilous times, compromises democracy. Once the process begins, once officials start making decisions about what information to reveal and what to withhold, it's difficult to reverse.

In the context of energy security, moreover, it would be self-defeating.

Transparency has improved security of the overall energy-delivery system. Any move toward obscurity detracts from the system's ability to adjust to disruption. It therefore creates opportunity for malcontents who think they benefit from disruptive acts.

The US is an open society, the most open society in the world. The benefits of being so open are many and profound.

Openness, however, involves exposure to physical risk. This is why it is sometimes necessary to fight for freedom.

The way to respond to the vulnerability that comes with openness is not to become less open. It is rather to assure fanatics that they and their political agendas can't survive American responses to assaults on its freedom.

The US must remain fiercely committed first to defending the values on which it is founded and only then to defending pipelines and power plants.

(Online Sept. 6, 2002; author's e-mail: bobt@ogjonline.com)

Related Articles

OGJ Newsletter

02/16/2015

International news for oil and gas professionals

Lukoil lets contract for Uzbekistan gas processing plant

02/13/2015 Russia’s OAO Lukoil has let a contract to a consortium headed by South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd., Seoul, for the construction of its lon...

FERC approves Constitution pipeline to move Marcellus gas northeast

02/10/2015 The Marcellus and Utica natural gas plays have made headlines for years, but moving the gas to end users to the East has not been easy due to a lim...

IHS: shale supply chain benefits diverse

02/10/2015 A diverse group of supply-chain industries is benefitting from unconventional oil and gas development in the US, according to a study that IHS rele...

OGJ Newsletter

02/09/2015

International news for oil and gas professionals

US Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL pipeline project

02/06/2015 The US Senate has passed a bill approving construction of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline by a 62-36 vote after 3 weeks of debate. Nine...

CNOOC lets contract for Huizhou refinery expansion

02/03/2015 CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), has let a contract to Porvair Filtration Group ...

Data refute Lew's claims about taxes paid by producers

02/02/2015

On the subject of taxation, administration officials count on the public to believe anything.

Near-term pipeline plans shrink, longer-term growth returns

02/02/2015 Planned pipeline construction to be completed in 2015 slipped 30% from forecasts for 2014, with expected products, crude, and natural gas project c...
White Papers

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected