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Judge's DAPL Ruling, Reckless Spill Record Pushes Pipeline Company's Shares Below $20 for First Time

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Judge's DAPL Ruling, Reckless Spill Record Pushes Pipeline Company's Shares Below $20 for First Time
Drilling fluid released into a wetland in Belmont County, Ohio, during construction of Rover Pipeline. Sierra Club.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and the fracked gas Rover Pipeline, has quite the extensive spill history, a new analysis shows.

After crunching the numbers from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), TheStreet revealed that the Dallas-based company spilled hazardous liquids near water crossings more than twice the frequency of any other U.S. pipeline company this decade.


According to the report:

"The company has spilled hazardous liquids five times near water crossings since 2010 when PHMSA started collecting detailed data. The company's spills account for almost 20% of all hazardous liquid spills near water crossings since 2010, primarily because of a 55,000-gallon gasoline spill in 2016 near the Susquehanna River in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. TheStreet only included onshore spills in its analysis, and included subsidiary companies.

"Since 2010, the company has spilled hazardous liquids 204 times in all, ranking only behind Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD) and Magellan Midstream Partners, LP MMP, according to TheStreet's tally."

Energy Transfer owns about 71,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil pipelines across the country.

Alexis Daniel, an Energy Transfer spokesperson, defended the company's safety record.

"Not only does Energy Transfer Partners adhere to the approved regulatory standards, but it is always Energy Transfer Partners' priority to go above and beyond when building pipelines and is a common practice on all projects," she told TheStreet. "For example on Rover, the pipeline route will be flown every ten days, weather permitting, versus every 14 days which is the current requirement, for visual inspection of the pipeline."

Still, it's been a rough few months for Energy Transfer. In May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected the Energy Transfer's request to resume horizontal directional drilling at two sites for the Rover Pipeline after numerous leaks into Ohio's wetlands (including 2 million gallons of drilling fluid spill near the Tuscarawas River) in addition to various Clean Air and Clean Water act violations across the state.

And earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that that the Trump administration failed to consider the Dakota Access Pipeline's impact on the hunting and fishing rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. While the ruling did not shut down operations on the oil pipeline, which started flowing earlier this month, the judge has ordered a new environmental review.

A day after the judge's order, Energy Transfer shares fell to $19.53 on Friday—the first time it fell below $20 a share. The stock also slid 11 percent after FERC's order last month.

Energy Transfers stock chart for April, May and June. NYSE: ETP

Earlier reports have also highlighted the company's frequent spill and accident rate. A February analysis from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and DisasterMap.net found that Energy Transfer and its subsidiary Sunoco have filed 69 accidents over the past two years to the National Response Center, the federal contact point for oil spills and industrial accidents. That's 2.8 accidents every month, the analysis noted.

However, spills are not the only problem. A June study by Oil Change International highlighted how the Rover Pipeline will fuel a massive increase in climate pollution, causing as much greenhouse gas pollution as 42 coal-fired power plants—some 145 million metric tons per year.

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