Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

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By Rachel Altman, Santa Barbara

Let’s put this in perspective: The fine levied by Judge James Herman against Plains All-American Pipeline, based in Houston, for the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill was $3.3 million. Plains’ revenue during the last quarter was $8.79 BILLION. That comes out to more than $4 million per hour. In ONE HOUR, Plains made more money than that measly fine. It’s like a parking ticket to you and me.

According to Judge Herman, the $3.3.million fine was the largest allowed by law, despite the $1.2 billion the prosecutors requested to cover losses for cleanup, fisheries, commercial and recreational boating, tourism, and the lay-offs of oil workers due to shutting down the pipeline. Even the judge questioned whether the fine was enough to discourage future spills on our coastline. Do we wonder why oil companies and ancillary businesses continue to target Santa Barbara County, thinking they can get away with shoddy inspections or complete lack thereof, as was documented in the case against Plains, who allowed their pipeline to become so corroded that it split and leaked onto our precious coastline and waters?

Clearly, the law is on the side of the corporations, and as long as we are subject to the oligarchy that is running this country, the law will not change.

Plains has applied to build a new pipeline in Santa Barbara. If you think we should trust them and our regulatory agencies to be accountable, think again.


Past Articles 

April 26, 2019- Plains Charged 3.3 Million in Refugio Oil Spill

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NotReallyDave May 02, 2019 08:29 PM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Rachel, It is people like you that demand and use so many of the products that are made from oil. I suggest you stop using every one of those products in your life so you can feel like you are doing your part to save the world. I will honk when I drive past you while you walk down the road.

Rachelaltman May 02, 2019 02:14 PM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Raygold, no need to be insulting. Here's the source for those figures:

raygold May 02, 2019 04:41 PM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Rachel unfortunately you apparently have no idea of the difference between revenue and earnings. This fact makes your statements in your original diatribe ludicrous.

jak May 02, 2019 01:41 PM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

So, let me summarize: 1) the pipeline operator broke the law in ways that made a big mess that still isn’t really fully cleaned up. 2) they were hauled into court and found guilty. 3) the prosecutor then asked the judge to break the law by imposing unallowably high fines. 4) the judge decided to follow the law instead of the prosecutor’s wishes and in doing so he actually imposed the highest fine allowed by law.

Sounds like the proper outcome to me. Perhaps the correct step 6 would be for the legislature to modify the law to allow higher fines.

Jasmit May 02, 2019 01:16 PM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Plains revenue info here:

Plains All American Pipeline revenue for the quarter ending December 31, 2018 was $8.785B, a 15.52% increase year-over-year.
Plains All American Pipeline revenue for the twelve months ending December 31, 2018 was $34.055B, a 29.87% increase year-over-year.

Rto May 02, 2019 09:36 AM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Agree, although most people don't earn enough in one hour to pay a parking ticket. No fine is ever substantial enough to have an effect on bad corporate behavior. Corporate officers should face incarceration and personal fines.

bookman May 02, 2019 08:35 AM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Factotum: "...instead of demanding retaliatory fiscal ruin on the pipeline company for this one accident." The relevant FACT about Plains All-American Pipeline is that they have an long and egregious record of destructive pipeline leaks and sloppy maintenance practices. Look it up!

raygold May 01, 2019 07:13 PM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Your numbers are so far off it is laughable. In 2017 the company lost 731,000,000. In 2018 the company earned $334,000,000. This is far from the billions you claimed. Either you have no idea how to read a financial statement or you just wanted to mislead everyone. Either way your “facts” are disingenuous.

Flicka May 01, 2019 04:02 PM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

Who is "demanding retaliatory fiscal ruin on the pipeline company"? They deliberately fought any local safety regulations, went to court and won. Then let the spill get out of their control through negligence. The spill and the news coverage is enough to discourage tourists from visiting Santa Barbara even though the spill was limited "to a very small and remote area". Good grief, when will all oil spills be eliminated? Oil companies aren't concerned with our environment, just in making money.

Factotum May 01, 2019 09:52 AM
Plains Pipeline Gets Away With It

You want to get rid of oil production, yet you also want laid off oil workers to get compensated for time lost on the job during the billion dollar oil cleanup? Please explain. Housing the hundreds of clean up workers and employing multiiple local services easily compensated any lost business due to the overly hysterical reaction scaring visitor away from this entire area when in fact the oil spill was limited to a very small and remote area. Time to bring facts and not just overly emotional reactions
to this situation. Did your local Congressional rep Salud Carbajal take over Lois Capps seat on the federal oil pipleine safety committee? How is he going to protect this from happening again, instead of demanding retaliatory fiscal ruin on the pipeline company for this one accident.

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