As we mentioned this past week, we finally received a response from Enbridge regarding their claim that certain features of the new pipe exceed federal regulations. We are very grateful to Enbridge’s Terri Larson for getting us a reasonably thorough answer. Terri strikes us as genuine and reliable.

But federal regulations are a complicated affair, which makes scrutinizing Enbridge’s claim fairly tricky. We’re working on it. In the meantime, we thought we’d link to this excellent and very important article at ProPublica by way of providing some context for the discussion that’s to come. Plus, you get to read the remarks of one of our heroes: Carl Weimer, the Executive Director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. You don’t want to miss Carl saying this:

Given the limitations of government money and personnel, it is often the industry that inspects its own pipelines. Although federal and state inspectors review paperwork and conduct audits, most on-site pipeline inspections are done by inspectors on the company’s dime.

The industry’s relationship with PHMSA may go further than inspections, critics say. The agency has adopted, at least in part, dozens of safety standards written by the oil and natural gas industry.

“This isn’t like the fox guarding the hen house,” said Weimer. “It’s like the fox designing the hen house.”