Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

October 18, 2011

New crooks in TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Suzanne Morris
Rusk resident

RUSK — There are many reasons why East Texans should fight being forced to serve as a conduit for sending dirty tar sands crude to China– among the greatest investors in Canadian tar sands fields. To name a few:

The huge disparity between the number of  jobs that TransCanada projects it will bring to Texas (over 50,000)  and the State Department’s estimate (156-379 temporary jobs over three years, a number supported by a recent study at Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute);

The threat  to our Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer, which supplies water to 60 East Texas counties, should a spill occur;

The lack of an emergency response plan in case of a major spill;

The size of the tar sands crude carbon footprint: there is 17 percent more carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming in this crude,  than in conventional oil;

The company’s strong-arming of property owners to sign over their rights and let the pipeline go through.

The list goes on.

But here are some disturbing new developments:

In September, the State Department posted a notice of  public hearings to be held in areas of the country which will be impacted directly by this pipeline.  Parties in favor, and in opposition, were invited to make comments.  A hearing in Port Arthur, Texas, was followed by one in Austin.

There was one catch: speakers were signed up on a first come, first served basis, and local pro-pipeline organizers made sure their people got there first. When those opposed were finally able to comment, their time was cut short.   In Austin, the microphone was shut off at 2 minutes, with no warning signal so speakers could hurriedly complete their thought.  At 8 p.m., the hearing was abruptly adjourned.  Two dozen would-be opposition speakers, who had waited hours for their chance, were denied time to comment.  When  one man politely asked why he and others had been left out, he was arrested.

This is not my idea of democracy at work.

Yet, there is a reason why those in opposition to the pipeline were treated differently than those in favor: Instead of the State Department holding the hearings, an outside company, Cardno Entrix, was engaged.  Cardno Entrix also represents TransCanada.  Unbelievably, evidence has now emerged that Cardno Entrix wrote all three environmental impact statements for the State Department on the proposed pipeline.  Not surprisingly, these documents failed to address major environmental concerns.

In addition, TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliot failed to disclose, when he registered as a foreign agent to lobby the State Department, that he had previously worked on Secretary of State Clinton’s presidential campaign.

These are clear conflicts of interest, and should be a clear signal to us that TransCanada is not the “good neighbor” in those full page, full color, folksy newspaper advertisements.

We should do everything in our power to keep this ruthless corporation out of East Texas.

Suzanne Morris

Rusk , Texas