Environmental and Safety

Protecting People and the Planet


public safety meetings held.


miles of pipeline inspected in 2020.

Pipelines are the most environmentally responsible and safest way to transport and store the fuels needed by our nation. In 2020 and 2021, our Guiding Principles continued to lead us as we responsibly provided these affordable and reliable fuels while supporting biodiversity and generating fewer Greenhouse Gas emissions than other liquids fuel transportation options.

Environmental Management
Program and Policies

We are committed to Health, Safety and Environmental Excellence, which we define as zero injuries, zero incidents, environmental stewardship and regulatory compliance. 

Our Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) team is dedicated to not only maintaining compliance with permits and regulations, but also ensuring the implementation of our Guiding Principles of “Teamwork” and “Communication” through our Environmental Management Program. This program allows our employees to work together to minimize our environmental impact, implement our commitment to biodiversity, manage environmental requirements and ensure people have the training to continuously improve our HSE Excellence. As part of this, our employees also work closely with our industry trade associations to develop and implement best practices and foster a cooperative relationship with government regulators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders.

We demand similar commitment to HSE Excellence from our contractors. Before any contractor performs work for NuStar, they must demonstrate their commitment to health, safety, and the environment and meeting our rigorous HSE standards.

At the core of our Environmental Management Program is the NuStar Safety and Environmental Management System (NuSEMS). This system incorporates a process, referred to as the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, to ensure continual evaluation and improvement of our practices and provides a structure for operating, learning from experiences and continuously improving our HSE Excellence culture. At NuStar, we have also adopted and support the American Petroleum Institute (API) 1173, Pipeline Safety Management System (PSMS), which also utilizes the PDCA cycle. This system similarly helps pipeline companies continuously measure and improve HSE performance.[1] Together, the NuSEMS and PSMS systems provide a strong foundation for our HSE Excellence culture.

A circular chart showing the cyclical process of the Leadership Commitment and Management Review inputs of "Plan" and "Act" and how that affects the output of "Do" and "Check."Circular organization of the review and management systems in place at NuStar to promote Health, Safety and Environmental excellence at NuStar.

[1]Source: “Resources: RP 1173 Pipeline SMS Fact Sheet” Pipeline SMS 2018

GHG Emissions and Air Quality

We are dedicated to being a good neighbor in our communities, an environmental steward and minimizing emissions while ensuring safe, reliable and efficient access to the affordable energy that gets us to work and school, enhances our food production and powers our economy.

While we will continue to strive for best-in-class performance, we also know that pipeline transportation has some of the lowest GHG emissions[1] and is one of the most environmentally responsible options[2] for transporting and delivering these reliable liquid fuels. Even so, we are formalizing the collection of Scope I and Scope II emissions data across our assets to assure measurable, substantial improvement over time.

U.S. Total CO2 Emissions (in metric tons)[3]

Global CO2 Emissions (in metric gigatonnes)[3]

Pipeline Proportions of Emissions[4]

Graphic showing the flow process of the extraction of oil from the ground to the final product. After extraction, the oil is transported, then moved into the refining process, then the refined oil product is transported to the final use of the refined oil product.


Transporting the volume NuStar moves through its pipelines in one day
would require approximately...

2,500rail cars
Railway transportation creates
42%more GHGs.[5]
Truck transportation creates467% more GHGs.[5]

Pipelines offer the lowest emission and most environmentally responsible liquids fuels transportation and storage alternative, and NuStar is also dedicated to being a part of meeting the need for clean renewable fuels, especially those that support Low Carbon Fuels Standards aimed at improving air quality. We have utilized and retrofitted our existing infrastructure to increase access to these reliable, lower carbon fuels. Notably, as part of several of these projects, we also purchased Clean Air Act offsets, further helping these communities increase air emission compliance and attainment. One of the areas we have focused on is the West Coast and their increased demand for reliable, lower carbon intensity, liquid renewable fuels.

Today, NuStar handles a significant portion of California’s renewable fuels and plays a key part in helping the state reach its Low Carbon Fuel Standards’ goals. We embrace this opportunity because it is not only good business, but also because it is the right business. We look forward to implementing our Guiding Principle of “Making a Difference” by helping other states and communities reduce emissions through meeting their Low Carbon Fuel Standards and other renewable liquid fuels goals.



U.S. Energy Demand Mix (in quadrillions BTU)[6]
















Petroleum and other liquidsNatural gasRenewable energyCoalNuclear


Global Energy Demand Mix (in mm tons of oil equivalent)[6]






















OilNatural gasCoalOther renewablesBioenergyNuclearHydro


Share of California Renewable Fuel Market[7]

28%Renewable diesel




By year-end 2023, we anticipate that 40% of our West Coast revenue will be from the storage and transportation of renewable fuels. We continue to expect our percentages of California’s market for biodiesel, ethanol and renewable diesel to increase through 2023 as we complete existing and planned projects. We take great pride in the role we are playing in creating a lower emission, less carbon-intensive future.

We are also improving efficiency and lowering our emissions across our footprint. Examples include:

  • Converting three fully diesel-driven pump stations to electric power

  • Utilizing drag reducing agents

  • Exploring the use of more variable frequency drives on our pipelines to increase energy efficiency

  • Upgrading to eco-friendly LED lighting at over 60 locations

  • Obtaining emission offsets and implementing and utilizing vapor recovery and combustor systems


[1]Source: “Pipelines Have the Lowest Greenhouse Gas Emissions” Association of Oil Pipe Lines 2021

[2]Source: “Pipelines Protect the Environment”, Association of Oil Pipelines, 2021; “Pipelines are Safest for Transportation of Oil and Gas” Manhattan Institute for Policy Research 2013

[3]Source: EIA Monthly Energy Review 2021 04, IEA Global Energy Review updated 2021 03 01

[4]Sources: ARC Energy Research Institute, using input data from the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory to define the U.S. Refined Average (2014); U.S. Refined Average (2014): Student Research Associate, Strata

[5]Source: “Pipelines Have the Lowest Greenhouse Gas Emissions” Association of Oil Pipe Lines 2021

[6]Source: EIA Annual Energy Outlook (U.S.); IEA World Energy Outlook 2020: Stated Policies Scenario (Global)

[7] Full-Year 2020 Total VolumeSource: California Air Resource Board (CARB)


Operational Safety and Preparedness

Image of NuStar employee securing a bolt on a vessel at a NuStar plant.

We focus on keeping our customers’ products “inside the pipes and tanks,” as a responsible steward of our customers’ product and our communities, our employees and the environment. We are especially proud of our record of stewardship and reliable service. Not only do our pipelines and storage tanks have some of the lowest occurrences of incidents and are one of the safest options for responsibly transporting, delivering and storing liquid fuels, but, during 2020, our releases represented less than 0.00016% of the total barrels we moved and, during 2021, we received the International Liquids Terminals Association’s (ILTA) annual Safety Excellence Award for the 11th year.

Our excellent annual safety record is due to the dedication of our employees to NuStar’s Guiding Principles of “Commitment” and “Safety,” through our extensive inspection program and our Control Center oversight 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

For our pipelines, our Control Center monitors with enhanced programs to proactively identify and avoid releases through our Automatic Leak Detection system and flow and pressure monitors. In addition, we are capable of inspecting over 99% of our pipeline miles through high tech inline inspection tools, and with only 1% requiring other techniques. 

We are similarly dedicated to the safety of our storage tank facilities. For our storage tanks, we rigorously comply with American Petroleum Institute (API) internal and external inspection standards, such as API 653 Tank Inspection, Repair, Alteration and Reconstruction, as well as an integrity management program that includes daily audio, visual, and olfactory inspections.


In 2020, NuStar...

Inspected more than2,000 miles of pipeline, which is
23%of our total DOT pipeline miles.
Completed over 2,000 aerial inspections across over350,000miles.
Fulfilled a 20,000+ LDAR[1] component inspection program.
Inspected over 250 water-crossings.
Conducted 71 API internal inspections and369API external inspections.
Had  nearly300agency inspections.


Call Before You Dig

We support and encourage all members of our communities to utilize the 811—Call Before You Dig service. NuStar responded to more than 90,000 Call Before You Dig requests in 2020.

Our health, safety and environmental goal is zero — zero injuries and zero incidents, including zero releases. But we know success favors the prepared, so we are also dedicated to preventing any spills or incidents by participating in joint drills and exercises with regulatory agencies and performing internal exercises, including full-scale personnel deployment, tabletop exercises, equipment deployments and unannounced preparedness exercises. During these exercises, we implement our Corporate and other Emergency Response Plans. Exercises like these enhance NuStar’s ability to respond effectively across departments, regions and business units.

We completed more than 14,000hours of emergency response, environmental and safety training.
NuStar performed over 400 drills and exercises.


 [1]Leak Detection and Repair

Image of the most recent Chairman’s Cup Award Winner standing with NuStar’s CEO Brad Barron.
Chairman’s Cup

To encourage and nourish our culture of Health, Safety and Environmental Excellence, our operating regions compete each year for the Chairman’s Cup. Senior management evaluates the regions based on key HSE metrics during the award year and presents the award to the region or regions that best demonstrate a commitment to HSE Excellence over the course of the year for Safety Excellence and for Environmental Excellence. Receiving this award is an important recognition of a region’s dedication to being a good steward and neighbor in the communities where we operate and live.

At NuStar, one of our greatest honors is an award named after our Chairman, Bill Greehey, the prestigious Chairman’s Cups for Environment and Safety Excellence. This honor is awarded once a year to the NuStar operational regions that best demonstrate two of our core values, environmental stewardship and safety excellence.

Occupational Health and Safety

Image of NuStar tank with Voluntary Protection Program of pipeline safety certification logo

“Safety” is NuStar’s first Guiding Principle because NuStar is a family, and we take the safety of our employees, contractors and communities personally. In 2021, we are proud to have been awarded the International Liquids Terminals Association’s (ILTA) Safety Excellence Award for the 11th year, maintaining one of the best Total Recordable Incident Rates (TRIR) in our industry and with 91% of our eligible U.S. terminals having attained Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Star status. Our safety record comes from our strong culture of empowering and engaging employees and contractors to put safety first in our daily operations. We take this so seriously that we make sure every employee and every contractor knows that they can and should stop work if they feel there is anything unsafe about any given situation.

In 2021, as in years past, our dedication to safety resulted in safety statistics substantially better than our peers. Our TRIR was 14.6 times better than the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) comparison data for the Bulk Terminals Industry and 7.7 times better than that of the BLS Pipeline Transportation Industry data.


3-Year Total Recordable Incident Rate[1]

Bulk Terminals
Pipeline Transportation



VPP Star Sites

91% of our eligible U.S. terminals have attained VPP Star Status, OSHA’s certification recognizing employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards and the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.


Map of the United States with NuStar VPP Star Sites highlighted.

As of December 31, 2021

Another reason we have such a strong safety record is because of the emphasis our Chairman of the Board, CEO and senior management have placed on empowering our employees to put safety first for years through their support and commitment to the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) process. This dedication to the OSHA VPP certification process has provided our employees with accountability and an ownership stake in our safety culture, which in turn drives our safety performance.

OSHA VPP is an elite program that promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. In the Program, management, employees and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system. Approval into VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.

We are especially proud of how NuStar’s employees embraced OSHA VPP. We have more VPP Star-certified sites than any other independent liquids storage company in the entire country, and we plan to make 100% of our eligible sites VPP Star certified!

In addition to our company-wide dedication to OSHA VPP, we have 15 NuStar employees who have been recognized as OSHA Special Government Employees. These are NuStar employees who have been trained by OSHA to perform audits at other companies’ plants and facilities. OSHA utilizes these trained individuals to perform audits on those companies, which brings enhanced expertise to the OSHA staff and program and allows our employees to learn from the best practices at those facilities


[1]Industry averages derived from 2018–2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Data. 2019 averages carried forward to 2020 for illustration purposes.

Close button for share