The following blog is by Kat Herrera, Sierra Club super intern in Houston.
The way I’ve been describing how the hearing went on the Keystone XL pipeline in Port Arthur is this: it was a bottleneck of emotions. Many showed up and brought their personal convictions along. However, in the face of opposition, the hearing proved to be an excellent showcase of our nation’s democratic process.
Spirits were fired up at the gathering at Hartmann Park in Manchester before travelling to Port Arthur. A large group of residents, from near and far, gathered in solidarity with those across the nation and at Washington D.C.
We saw a long line as we pulled into the parking lot and realized that the oil industry spent a lot of money bussing supporters in. There were groups of hundreds, donning t-shirts that read “build Keystone XL now,” or “Keystone XL means jobs.”
It’s true that this project would create some jobs but not nearly as many as TransCanada leads you to believe. The State Department’s own study finds their numbers to be inflated by up to 19 times the actual amount. Don’t forget that these jobs will last a maximum of three years.
The first few hours of the hearing were a repetitive script of job creation, and hopes of ending our dependence on foreign oil. There were very few reasons why Keystone XL should be built. Opponents to the project brought such a vast array of risks as to why this pipeline simply has no room in America’s future. Risking a third of our agricultural irrigation, and similar spills in the Yellowstone and Kalamazoo Rivers, is reason enough to stop this pipeline.
The media coverage on the hearing leads you to believe that opposition was minimal, but those of us there fought valiantly. I have confidence that many initially in favor of the project left with more questions that will lead them to realize that this pipeline isn’t worth the benefits it may bring. The risks to our future are too great. The State Department is still accepting comments on their website. I plead for everyone to submit a comment, and stop this project.