A Broad Coalition is Sounding the Alarm today — Texas Water at Risk during U.S. Department of State Hearing on proposed Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline
Local Officials, Property Rights Activists, Religious Leaders, Environmentalists, and Students are asking you to join us in asking the State Department to Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline
6:00 PM Rally Tonight: LBJ Auditorium, University of Texas at Austin, corner of East Dean Keeton Street. Click here for a map.
A broad coalition of property rights activists, local officials, religious leaders, environmentalists, and students gathered this morning in Austin at a U.S. Department of State public hearing to speak in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
“A foreign company has taken my land to try and build a dangerous and unnecessary pipeline, a pipeline that could spill toxic crude onto my land and into all our water,” says David Daniels, an East Texas rancher who founded STOP, Stop Tar sands Oil Pipeline when he received an eminent domain letter from TransCanada. “TransCanada has duped the State Department, but they haven’t duped me. I don’t want this pipeline on my land. I don’t want this pipeline anywhere in Texas.” Read Daniels comments here.
Uris Roberson served as spokesman for the newly-formed East Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission, a ‘391 Commission’ for local authority formed by the cities of Gallatin and Reklaw to address the pipeline situation. Roberson delivered comments on behalf of its President, Mayor Chase Palmer of Gallatin.
Mayor Palmer said, “This commission has been formed to ensure that we, to the best of our ability, live up to the responsibility that we have to the citizens of Reklaw and Gallatin and also our entire region of East Texas that is affected by the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.”
In June 2011 the head of the federal pipeline safety agency, Cynthia Quarterman, told Congress that the U.S. pipeline system was not designed with raw tar sands crude in mind, that safety regulations were not written to address it’s unique risks, and that the agency had not yet studied the issue or been involved in the State Department’s environmental review of Keystone XL. The groups gathered at today’s hearing asked the State Department to reject the Keystone permit application and re-do its analysis to consider threats to water resources.
Mayor Palmer’s comments stated the Commission’s concerns, “This lack of information prevents our communities from fully understanding the breadth and scope of potentially devastating impacts that could result from the construction, operation and maintenance of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Commission has numerous questions and concerns, our two upmost being: potential impacts to our water supply and the overall lack of relevant, material and detailed information or analysis. We are asking the Department of State to reject this application.” Read Mayor Palmer’s comments here.
BP-Enbridge oil spill whistleblower John Bolenbaugh confirmed the Commission’s concerns.
“The company never told the public living near the pipeline or workers like me working on the clean up about the dangerous toxins in the tar sands oil that spilled into the Kalamazoo River,” said Bolenbaugh a veteran and union worker. “People became very sick and were having seizures. After the company fired me for speaking out, I began looking for the places where they hid the spilled oil. One woman and her child hugged me and thanked me for doing it. So did another man from his wife’s hospital bed.”
Environmental groups pointed to elevated concerns in Texas due to our state’s current exceptional drought and existing air quality problems.
“If this pipeline were allowed to be built, up to 1.7 million gallons of toxic tar sands oil could flow into east Texas drinking water and land before the emergency shutoff valve would trigger,” said Dr. Neil Carman chemist and Sierra Club Clean Air Program Director. “The U.S. Department of State must reject a Keystone permit. Its analysis ignored the heightened threat to water resources with exceptional drought conditions in Texas and it ignored the existing toxic burden of the refinery communities in Port Arthur and Houston.”
Religious communities commented at the hearing about the need to move past oil and develop clean energy resources.
Amanda Yaira Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power and Light said, “Texas faith leaders of different religious traditions stand united in opposition to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, on moral grounds. This pipeline would commit us—and the rest of the world—to a much warmer climate and a planet that is far less hospitable to human and all other life. Rather than continue our destructive dependence on oil, let us find a way forward that protects the health of all people and the planet that we share. The Keystone XL is not the way.”
Debra Medina with We Texans (Tea Party), Terri Hall,Founder/Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, Reverend Lou Sneed with Faith Presbyterian Church and the Austin Interfaith Environmental Network, and Jackie Joy Sierra Student Coalition leader at U.T. Pan American, among many others also spoke in opposition to the Keystones XL Tar Sands pipeline today.
- Debra Medina, We Texans
- Terri Hall, TURF
- Chris Wilson, STOP – Dallas Morning News Op Ed
- Reverend Lou Sneed, Austin Interfaith Environmental Network – Austin American Statesman Op Ed
- Letter to Secretary of State Clinton from 41 Houston area, Environmental Justice Groups