Rally participants Prepare for Public Hearings in Port Arthur and Austin
Footage of Tar Sands Clean-up Scam Revealed at Rally
NACOGDOCHES-Concerned citizens who filled Liberty Hall for the Nacogdoches County Stop Tar sands Oil Pipelines grassroots rally are preparing to join landowners and elected officials at State Department Hearings next week.
STOP is coordinating carpools for those interested in attending the hearings to gather official public comment on the National Interest Determination for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Activities planned around Wednesday’s hearing in Austin include a prayer vigil at 10:30, a press event with landowners and elected officials at 11:30 and a rally later in the day.
The Nacogdoches rally this past Tuesday featured footage and eyewitness discussion of a whistleblower revealing a botched clean-up effort from the over 800,000 gallon tar sands pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Texas photographer Adrian Van Dellen visited Talmadge Creek, the site of the spill, and filmed a former clean up worker demonstrating that much of the heavy tar sands crude was not removed, but had been covered over with sand or with landscape cloth over which new grass had grown. Van Dellen filmed the whistleblower as he cut a hole through the landscape fabric and grass and sank up to his thighs in thick oil sludge.
“This will be us” warned Van Dellen. “It is not a matter of if but when the Keystone XL pipeline will leak.”
Van Dellen reported that 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River is still closed to the public 14 months after the spill. Enbridge, a companion company to TransCanada, has missed its August 31 deadline for completing the clean-up because the heavy tar sands crude sinks in water, unlike lighter crudes, making it difficult or impossible to remove.
“I heard many first-hand stories of people along the river becoming ill, often seriously ill, because of exposure to the chemicals in the tar sands,” added Van Dellen.
Tar Sands Action participant Steve Da Silva pointed out that Americans would get little benefit from the pipeline. “The tar sands are to be refined in a tax-free zone in Port Arthur. Valero has contracted to for a large percentage of the crude, which it plans to refine into diesel and jet fuel for use in foreign markets in South America and Europe. Both Russia and China have shown their desire to get some of the crude at the Texas terminals, too.” Da Silva added that Valero’s plans include refining some of the crude into gasoline in an overseas refinery and then selling it back to the U.S.
Citizens were given information on how to make official comment on the National Interest Determination for the pipeline to the State Department and were urged to attend the State Department’s public hearings in Port Arthur and Austin.
“It is of utmost importance that citizens attend these hearings. As our water supplies are jeopardized by the drought and our land is consumed by wildfire we realize how vitally important our water and land rights are” stated STOP volunteer Vicki Baggett. “To give our land and water to a foreign company for their profit is unthinkable. This is our final opportunity to let the federal government know how we feel, and I urge everyone to submit comments to the State Department.”
The State Department will hold two public hearings in Texas to gather comments on the National Interest Determination for the pipeline. The first meeting will be Monday, September 26 at the Bob Bowers Civic Center Port Arthur from 4:30 to 10:00 p.m. and the second will be Wednesday, September 28 at the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium from 12 to 8 p.m. in Austin.
Comments may also be made online or mailed by October 9.
For more information about the meetings or to comment visit the State Department website http://www.keystonexlpipeline.state.gov