Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P.      Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P.
East Texans joining together to Stop Tarsands Oil. Permanently.
No Keystone XL     

 

Cherokeean Herald Letters to the Editor

the Keystone XL issue remains
on the front burner for East Texas

 

In early April Suzanne Morris responded to a pro-Keystone XL-pipeline letter that appeared in the Cherokeean. Following is her letter:

As one of the pipeline opponents referred to in Mr. White's letter in the March 21st Cherokeean Herald, "Pipeline would provide jobs," I have already registered dissenting views on many of the points he makes. I wish to address a few more in this letter.

First, Mr. White informs us, "The Canadian company has already agreed to reroute the pipeline around the main aquifers along the route from Canada to Houston and Beaumont, Texas."
To the contrary, TransCanada has made no such concession in Texas. Under heavy pressure from the Nebraska legislators who responded to the concerns of their citizens, the company agreed to reroute the pipeline around the Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer running underneath that environmentally sensitive area. TransCanada boldly proposes to cross our Carrizo Wilcox aquifer which supplies water to 60 East Texas counties, and a number of other vital waterways in this state. Unlike in the case of Nebraska, our elected representatives, including U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling, and all Texas legislators beginning with Governor Rick Perry and including Senator Robert Nichols and Representative Chuck Hopson, have turned a deaf ear to our concerns.

Secondly, Mr. White seems to place all citizens opposed to this pipeline under the umbrella term, "tree huggers." In fact, opponents are highly diverse in their viewpoints, and represent all political stripes, including Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party sympathizers, Independents, and persons of no particular political affiliation. We include landowners who have been threatened by TransCanada and dragged into court when they refused to sign a lease; and yes, citizens who are attached to the idea of preserving the integrity of our environment for generations to come.
We all have certain things in common: a concern for protecting our property rights, our water safety, and the health and safety of East Texas citizens and our descendants.

One more important point- Mr. White speaks of the great number of jobs the pipeline will bring, a projection that has already been called into serious question. I would ask that he have a look at the latest report from Cornell University projecting the number of jobs that will be lost, and the devastating effect on local economies and public health, should a tar sands pipeline spill occur. This analysis is based, in part, on the disastrous tar sands spill twenty months ago into the Kalamazoo River, which has yet to be cleaned up in spite of the 720 million dollars already spent.



Terry Cunha, writing from Calgary for TransCanada, responded to Ms. Morris' letter:

We are working to help secure America’s energy future by building the Gulf Coast Project – an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to the refineries near Beaumont. We want to be more than just a pipeline company; we want to be a trusted neighbor. In order for that to happen, your readers need the facts about TransCanada and the way we have done business in the U.S. for the past 45 years.
A recent letter from Suzanne Morris contains misinformation about the Gulf Coast Project.

As a threshold matter, the letter notes that TransCanada has not changed its route in Texas to avoid the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. This is correct, but Ms. Morris is omitting some important points:
TransCanada has not been asked by regulators to route around the aquifer.
The aquifer in question already hosts literally hundreds of miles of pipeline. The elected officials Ms. Morris identifies did not “turn a deaf ear” to information about the Gulf Coast Project.
On the contrary – they studied it very carefully and concluded, as we have, that this project is vital to America’s energy security and can be built and operated safely with minimal impact to the environment.
The letter does not even attempt to explain how the Gulf Coast Project poses negative consequences for the aquifer, so it is difficult to know how to respond. The letter simply assumes that pipelines must be bad.
What a strange conclusion to reach in Texas, a state that more than any other has depended on pipelines for its prosperity for more than 100 years. Texas knows better than any other state that pipelines are the “cleanest and greenest” way to transport the enormous amounts of energy produced within its borders.

Ms. Morris’s characterizations that TransCanada “threatened” landowners and “dragged them into court” is a serious misinterpretation of fact and law. While this is a common accusation leveled by activist opponents of the Gulf Coast Project (and every other energy project in the U.S.), your readers are wise enough to have noticed that no opponent has yet made a specific accusation of a named individual making a threat against a specific landowner. We wonder: Why not?
We think it’s because our land agents keep such meticulous records of landowner contacts. Why? For the very reason that this accusation is routinely made by a small but vocal minority of landowners and others who simply oppose the energy industry. It would only be fair of them to allow us to confront our accusers and get to the facts rather than resort to blind accusations.
And finally, it is Texas statute, not TransCanada policy, that makes the courtroom a last resort.
“Dragged into court” makes a catchy slogan, but it isn’t how these things work. And I assure you, TransCanada’s preference is always to reach mutual agreement. We make our money moving energy to market, not meeting landowners in court.

Mr. Cunha is the manager of stakeholder relations for TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Project.



Kathy DaSilva responds to Mr. Cunha:

It was with utter fascination that I read Terry Cunha’s response to Suzanne Morris’ letter about TransCanada’s plans to transport tar sands oil across our Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. Terry Cunha is a PR man for TransCanada who seems to believe that East Texans are not intelligent enough to see through his misrepresentation of the facts concerning this project.

Cunha states that the “Gulf Coast Project” (which is really the southern leg of the Keystone XL) is “vital to America’s energy security”. Perhaps he should read the article by Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson (US Army-retired). Brig. Gen. Anderson is the former Army senior logistician in Iraq, responsible for providing our forces with more than 2 million gallons of fuel each day.
In Anderson’s article, he states that “our dependence on petroleum compromises our national security by making us both strategically and operationally vulnerable.” He is not talking about Middle Eastern oil, but our reliance on oil. He goes on to state that “the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline just maintains the status quo of an unhealthy reliance on oil.” Sorry, Mr. Cunha, but your Canadian tar sands oil is not vital to America’s energy security.

Cunha claims that this tar sands pipeline “can be built and operated safely with the minimal impact to the environment”. Cunha wants us to believe that this product to be pushed through the pipeline is no different or more dangerous that the "hundreds of miles of pipeline that have crossed Texas for more that 100 years”.
Cunha fails to mention that his company, TransCanada, will not be transporting regular crude oil across Texas, but will be using conventional pipeline technology to transport a highly corrosive, acidic and unstable blend of thick raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid condensate called DilBit. When this diluted bitumen leaks into our waterways, it sinks. It cannot be cleaned by skimming.
Michigan is still trying to remove DilBit from more that 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River from a tar sands oil spill that happened in July of 2010. Cunha also fails to mention that tar sands pipelines leak at 3 times the rate of conventional crude, and that TransCanada has had 14 leaks in 14 months. Yet he claims that his pipeline “can be built and operated safely with the minimal impact to the environment”?

Mr. Cunha, you underestimate East Texans. We check facts and research tar sands oil for ourselves. Please keep your PR tales out of our newspapers.



David Daniel also reponds to Mr. Cunha (permission was granted by Mr. Daniel to reprint his letter in its entirety, even though not all of it was published in the Cherokeean):

An article recently appeared in a Texas paper, The Cherokeean Herald, where Terry Cunha, manager of stakeholder relations for TransCanada based in Calgary, Canada, claimed that Suzanne Morris provided “serious misinformation” about the treatment of landowners in the path of their private project.

Cunha said, “Ms. Morris’s characterizations that TransCanada “threatened” landowners and “dragged them into court” is a serious misinterpretation of fact and law. While this is a common accusation leveled by activist opponents of the Gulf Coast Project (and every other energy project in the U.S.), your readers are wise enough to have noticed that no opponent has yet made a specific accusation of a named individual making a threat against a specific landowner. We wonder: Why not?”
“We think it’s because our land agents keep such meticulous records of landowner contacts. Why? For the very reason that this accusation is routinely made by a small but vocal minority of landowners and others who simply oppose the energy industry. It would only be fair of them to allow us to confront our accusers and get to the facts rather than resort to blind accusations.”

Here is the “Why Not.”

The “why not” is simply Cunha’s deceptive statement. Cunha claims “that no opponent has yet made a specific accusation.” That’s a bit one sided and easily rigged. Cunha then claims that accusers simply oppose the project because they oppose the energy industry.
These are frankly bold face lies.
Many, people oppose TransCanada because we do not like being lied to and bullied. Reports of TransCanada bullying landowners can be found in every state they want to run their project. All one has to do is a little homework. For example: Nebraska Senator Bill Avery said, "We have clear evidence that TransCanada began threatening landowners in Holt County and other places as early as April of last year." Senator Avery discussed a letter that TransCanada sent to one landowner where TransCanada said, 'We're making an offer and you have 30 days to accept this offer or we will invoke the power in eminent domain,'" Avery said. "That is offensive. "I have talked with landowners in Holt County who told me they were completely intimidated. They were frightened that they were going to lose the property and they didn't know what to do and they only had 30 days," he said. "Why didn't TransCanada offer to negotiate in good faith? Their actions, I believe, were threats designed to intimidate landowners into accepting easement deals. This is unethical. It is deceitful. It is intolerable. We do not have to sit back and allow our citizens to be mistreated in this manner."

As a Texas landowner, TransCanada trespassed on my property beginning in July 2008. Once I learned what company put the stakes on my property, finding it to be TransCanada, I reported this to TransCanada’s agents Danny Murchison, Jim Foreman, and later with TransCanada’s attorney Ken McKay when he threatened me with eminent domain in 2008, six months before they even tried to negotiate. I have been publicly complaining about this for nearly four years and Terry Cunha has responded to the media on more than one occasion by saying things such as; he was "not aware of any instances in which surveyors for the company trespassed on private property without permission.” "We don't just show up and start trespassing and laying stakes down without permission."

In 2008, when I spoke with TransCanada’s attorney Ken McKay, after receiving a certified letter threatening to take me to court if I do not comply, Mr. McKay said, “All I need to know from you is, - which pile to put you in, the cooperative pile or the fucking uncooperative pile.” The land agent, Jim Foreman, told me that I had to be alone in order for him to speak with me, which I found out was a lie. He offered me a one time payment of $2,446, for an indefinite easement that would take out 1.4 acres of old growth hardwood forest. He said that would be the best offer that I would get and when asked, he said “TransCanada does not pay for trees,” which I found out was a lie. Foreman told me they had all the permits necessary to build the pipeline and that nothing was going to stop this thing, which I found out was a lie.

In fact, Terry Cunha, explained the motive for easement acquisitions prior to project approval. Cunha argued “that it only made business sense to pursue easement deals while waiting for the State Department to deliberate, so that the company is poised to begin building as soon as a permit is issued.” It is a simple fact that taking a landowner to court to enforce eminent domain entitlement is both costly and time consuming. Therefore, to no fault of the landowner, TransCanada has positioned itself in a risky endeavor and this risk should come at no cost or burden, in any way shape or form, to an innocent landowner who just so happens to be in the path of this private project. This is not eminent domain exercised for a highway overpass, it is a for-profit company acquiring easements, voluntarily or not, to improve their bottom line.
Mr. Foreman told me that if I “do not take their offer, then the next step would be court, where I would start at zero, have to hire attorneys and appraisers at non-recoupable fees, and would not receive any additional clauses for erosion management or water testing.” When I asked questions about the contents, both Mr. Foreman and Mr. Murchison told me, and I have it in writing, that “Only oil and a petroleum based additive for thinning will be flowing through the pipeline and that the additive is no more hazardous than the oil itself.”

TransCanada’s James Prescott was asked by several reporters, “what’s in the pipeline? Prescott said “It’s not secret. We’re unbelievably forthcoming,” and yet Prescott would not reveal the contents asked for. In another interview, Mr. Prescott denied that the chemical composition of the additives to the tar sands oil is proprietary.

Landowners and communities have a right to know what is running through their property and water supplies, but TransCanada has not been unbelievably forthcoming, as they claim, because the contents are actually considered proprietary information by the shippers. More lies, not simple contradictions.

In fact, in regards to the Keystone XL Environmental Impact Statement, the U.S. State Department said that it could not conduct a full analysis due to a lack of disclosure of the chemicals transported in the pipeline that are considered “proprietary information” by the shippers. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency said it couldn’t determine the potential impacts to groundwater in the event of a spill and that such information is “important to establish the potential health and environmental impacts of any spilled oil, and responder/worker safety, and to develop response strategies.”

After being repeatedly questioned by reporters about the toxic and corrosive nature of tar sands, TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said “TransCanada is not an oil company, and they're not responsible for what goes through their pipes.”

TransCanada’s bullying tactics can been seen in other examples as well.
Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, said “The United States has a choice: receive oil from a stable, friendly nation in Canada or get oil from volatile, unfriendly regimes overseas.” Is that a threat used to manipulate consumers or an empty offer because that is not the way the international market system actually works? Robert Jones, vice president of Calgary-based TransCanada, said - “Keystone XL is a crucial American pipeline that will help meet American energy demand.”
Do the math, a private foreign company, foreign shippers, foreign owners, foreign developers, tax free foreign trade zone, - now tell me just exactly how this is an American pipeline.
TransCanada spokesman Jim Prescott said "Everything stays here, it's not going off shore. There seems to be a myth out there frankly." Nice sound bite, but what is the truth, where is the documentation to support such claims?

Cunha has been quoted as saying that “there are a few options to bring Canadian crude to international markets," and in a recent congressional hearing, TransCanada refused to support a requirement that oil on Keystone XL be used in the United States. Representative Edward Markey asked TransCanada's President Alex Pourbaix to support a condition that would require the oil on Keystone XL to be used in the United States. Mr. Pourbaix refused, saying that a requirement to keep oil on Keystone XL in the United States would cause refineries to back out of their contracts.

In Cunha’s recent statement in the Cherokeean Herald, he said, “we want to be a trusted neighbor.” As an informed landowner, I say, if you want trust, all of your lies and deceptive practices have made that possibility an impossibility. It is important to be informed and know when you need to take a stand against blatant abuse and fraud.

Suzanne Morris is a person of integrity who is standing up for people everywhere against such ongoing abuses by this foreign company and all Terry Cunha can do is try to tear her down with lies, catchy sound bites, and no documented proof to back up his claims. Cunha references Suzanne Morris’ statement that landowners are “dragged into court.” “Dragged into court” makes a catchy slogan,” Cunha said, “but it isn’t how these things work.”

So, is Cunha actually saying that landowners are not dragged to court therefore implying that we enjoy the threats of court action and willingly skip to court to be sued by a multinational corporation that wants to take away our rights to our private property? Common sense must prevail, but I am not counting on it. Too many people and politicians remain silent and uninformed.
Cunha said he wanted named individuals and said “It would only be fair of them to allow us to confront our accusers and get to the facts rather than resort to blind accusations.”

Well, Mr. Cunha, I have given you some names to start with and you are on that list because you have recklessly tolerated dishonest behaviors. Mr. Cunha, you say these accusations come from a small minority. A search of public court documents will show exactly how TransCanada, not just one rogue agent, took advantage of many landowners lack of knowledge. In these easement contracts, it becomes clear, in several ways, that all landowners were not treated equally. The payment varied just as a landowners knowledge varied. For example, I personally know many landowners who did not receive payments for damages simply because they did not know and could not afford to hire an attorney to see what they were entitled to and this is exactly what TransCanada tried to pull with me.

Mr. Cunha, now that you have some names to start with, are you going to be a “trusted neighbor” and do the right thing or are you just going to blow it off? The accusations are ample and go well beyond what was discussed here, they are not blind but rather insightful, and the landowners in every state are in ample supply.
David Daniel
Landowner
Winnsboro, TX



Eddie Radillo responds to Mr. Cunha, as well:

In response to Suzanne Morris’ letter to the editor that was recently published by your paper,Terry Cunha, spokesperson from TransCanada, wrote the following:
“As a threshold matter, the letter notes that TransCanada has not changed its route in Texas to avoid the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. This is correct, but Ms. Morris is omitting some important points:
TransCanada has not been asked by regulators to route around the aquifer.
The aquifer in question already hosts literally hundreds of miles of pipeline. The elected officials Ms. Morris identifies did not “turn a deaf ear” to information about the Gulf Coast Project.
On the contrary – they studied it very carefully and concluded, as we have, that this project is vital to America’s energy security and can be built and operated safely with minimal impact to the environment.
The letter does not even attempt to explain how the Gulf Coast Project poses negative consequences for the aquifer, so it is difficult to know how to respond. The letter simply assumes that pipelines must be bad.”

I beg to disagree with Terry Cunha. He does not mention to your readers the most important study of all which is currently being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences concerning the Leak Potential of Diluted Bitumen. Diluted Bitumen is the Tar Sands Blend of oil that his company Trans Canada wants to get from Cushing Oklahoma to the Gulf Refineries to meet their contractual obligations. The numerous pipelines he mentions that already cross over the Carrizo Wilcox Sands Aquifer are that of our Domestic Crude Oil and not of Diluted Bitumen.
Both the House and Senate in Washington voted in favor of this crucial study which was part of HR 2845, Sec 16, signed by the President January 3, 2012. Logically, this study would not be being conducted if there was not the likelihood that in fact this type of oil blend is more dangerous running through pipelines than our conventional crude. The National Academy of Sciences is a trusted agency with Pulitzer Prize winners and not influenced by outside interest.

For our safety and well being we should wait for the results of this study. Why? Because if it is determined that Diluted Bitumen causes a greater threat of Leak Potential and henceforth the equipment such as valves, pipes, etc., are deemed unfit/unsafe for the transportation of this diluted bitumen over our aquifer, Trans Canada and any other company would have to abide by the safety regulations that would govern it. Look at it this way; just as we would not take medicines or give medicines to our children or grandchildren that have not been approved by the FDA, we should not let this Diluted Bitumen, which has already caused problems in other areas, cross over our precious waterways, and aquifers in Texas.

Remember, Trans Canada may transport domestic oil from Cushing, O.K., but their main objective is to get the Diluted Bitumen to the Gulf refineries. Get Involved!

EDWARD C. RADILLO de Cunha, USAF (Ret) DOD (Ret)
2 yr Vietnam Veteran
Yantis, TX 75497
(903) 243-6150

 

 

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