The following article is from the January 25th edition of The Cherokeean, published in Jacksonville, Texas
It provides an interesting insight into the attitudes of TransCanada Corporation. Knowing that they were sending a representative to address the only official 391 Commission in Texas actively questioning the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada sent an individual who was, sadly, unprepared to give any useful answers. This reflects a continuing lack of regard on the part of TransCanada for anyone, and everyone, in their path.
40 attend pipeline meeting in Reklaw
2012-01-25 / Front Page
BY BECKY WHISENANT
The day after the meeting, President Barack Obama rejected the application for the Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada will reapply for the application.
Approximately 40 persons crowded the Reklaw City Hall Jan. 17 seeking answers from a TransCanada spokesperson regarding environmental and eminent domain concerns over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline which would transport bitumen tar sands from Canada to Port Arthur.
Company spokesperson Susan Medina, scheduled to address the Reklaw City Council, was unexpectedly unable to attend. Reklaw Mayor Harlan Crawford introduced David Dunnigan, a subcontractor for TransCanada, who explained that he would answer questions from the group, and began by revealing that 20,000 new jobs would be created.
However, according to a 42-page report published by Cornell University Global Labor Institute, "Based on jobs information provided by TransCanada for the FEIS, KXL U.S. on-site construction and inspection creates only 5,060 – 9,250 personyears of employment. This is equivalent to 2,500 – 4,650 jobs per year over two years." The report further states, "Based on data provided by TransCanada to the State Department, only between 506 and 1,387 workers would be hired locally. A state-bystate breakdown indicates that KXL will create between 156-470 jobs in Texas."
When questioned by Mayor Crawford as to why the cities of Reklaw and Gallatin, both covered in the FEIS (environmental impact statement), have not been contacted by anyone representing the pipeline, Mr. Dunnigan said he was uncertain. Neither was he aware if anyone at TransCanada had been in contact with the American Petroleum Institute in order to promote approval by President Obama of the permit to begin construction.
Concerns about spills
Mr. Dunnigan assured the group that there have been no accidents or spills but should even a "teacup" be leaked, they would assume responsibility for "restoring the area back to normal."
Rita Beving, consultant for the East Texas Sub- Regional Planning Commission (ETSRPC), said, "In fact, TransCanada’s existing Keystone I has had 14 spills in its first year of operation, more than any other pipeline, one being a 14,000 gallon leak near Bismarck deemed ‘an imminent threat to life, property and the environment.’"
Julia Trig Crawford, a Lamar County landowner currently involved in litigation with TransCanada over the taking of their land through eminent domain, added, "One ‘teacup’ of bitumen would contaminate our property’s whole water supply, and crop insurance does not cover contaminated water."
"It’s not a matter of ‘if’ there is a spill; it’s a matter of ‘when,’" said Hoyte Davis, Craft-Turney Water Supply Corp.
Protest signs displayed by attendees read "Don’t Mix Canadian tar with Texas water" and "Remember the Kalamazoo," referring to the tar sands spill into a Michigan river whose cleanup has reached $700 million.
Concerning the carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene, tuolene and hydrogen sulfide mixed with the viscous tar sands to enable its transport,
Mr. Dunnigan was unable to give a time frame of response to a spill nor to explain exactly what hazardous material protocol should be followed or who would assume liability for injuries.
According to the 391 Commission’s report, "The State Department has admitted it cannot fully analyze the chemicals transported in the pipeline due to lack of disclosure….As a result, the EPA has stated that it cannot fully determine the full spill impacts on groundwater."
Uris Roberson, a Wood County minister at the Reklaw meeting, voiced his fears. "I cannot imagine what would happen if the worst does happen here. We live here, and we have to raise our families here."
Roberta Colkin, president of the 391 Commission, asked Mr. Dunnigan to clarify the requirements for "Common Carrier status -- what must be fulfilled in order to check the box at the Railroad Commission?"
"I would be glad to get an attorney to respond to you," replied Mr. Dunnigan.
Other issues raised by the assembled citizens were the effects of local seismic activity upon the stability of the pipeline, the landowner’s rights in eminent domain, TransCanada’s outsourcing of pipe construction to Europe and Asia and the export of bitumen to China. Mr. Dunnigan offered to find the names and locations of pipe manufacturing plants, including the single U.S. facility, and whether the pipe manufactured outside the U.S. meets American standard safety specifications.
Mr. Dunnigan justified the use of eminent domain "for energy security."
Though passions ran high throughout the discussion, the meeting was conducted in an orderly manner. Mr. Dunnigan sympathized with the group, "If I were a landowner I would be very concerned and would want to get some answers – but I would get the answers from the right person." He agreed to draft a list of the questions presented, edit them with Mayor Crawford for accuracy and follow up with factual information.
However, Julia Crawford, whose property lies on the banks of the Red River, told the group that her family had been in a similar meeting with Mr. Dunnigan several months ago but as yet had not received any response to their concerns. "We have run into brick walls everywhere."
Katherine Pinotti, County Commissioner Pct. 3, spoke at the meeting. "Being a Cherokee County Commissioner I represent 25 percent of the people in Cherokee County. Who is allowing the eminent domain such as mentioned by Ms. Crawford from Lamar County, since they have no federal permit?" Ms. Pinotti also asked Mr. Dunnigan if the specifications for the construction of the pipe meets U.S. standards.
Towards the end of the one and one-half hour meeting, Adrian VanDellen, nature photographer and conservationist, informed the group that even though TransCanada has been allowed to classify huge downstream wetlands areas as "low consequence," a leak here will easily reach Sam Rayburn Lake and could affect the entire network of waterways in eastern Texas. The Kalamazoo River tar sands spill in Michigan traveled more than 35 miles, he said.
Mrs. Colkin mentioned the temporary water use permits applied for by TransCanada at a time when the entire state has been in extreme drought.
"I’m not an attorney, I’m not a hydrologist. I can’t answer those questions," said Mr. Dunnigan.
"Personally, I am completely disappointed, and if you weren’t prepared to answer our questions, I’m wondering if anyone at TransCanada has the answers or even wants to answer our questions," said Mayor Crawford, as the meeting neared its conclusion. "We want answers as quickly as possible, and we appreciate you being here and appreciate your help."
Councilwoman Colkin afterward concurred. "It was profitable to be able to get a representative to at least hear us but I don’t know if it will bear fruit. Interactions with TransCanada are different than with other petroleumbased pipelines. This particular company has no business etiquette."
Jacksonville attorney Mary Decker said at the meeting, "Once your land can be taken from you, you’re a dead duck. We are now expendable – like other countries. Now we are being violated."
Attending the meeting were Mayor Crawford, Mayor Pro-Tem Janelle Laughlin, Councilwoman Betty Jackson, Councilwoman Kim Lynn, Councilman Gilbert Stafford and City Secretary Judy Ritter.