NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
On Thursday, April 18, in Grand Island, Neb., the U.S. State Department had its last public comment hearing before making a recommendation to President Obama concerning permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline.
I was fortunate to be able to go and witness the resolve of the people of Nebraska and other states to stop the building of that export pipeline. Of the nearly 300 people who testified at the hearing, approximately 23, many of whom were connected to TransCanada in some way, spoke in support of the pipeline.
Those speaking against KXL varied in age, race and occupation. Doctors and nurses spoke of treating people effected by the chemicals involved in the processing and mixture of the diluted bitumen for piping.
Attorneys spoke of the lack of spill response equipment and procedures that TransCanada was outlining for use in case of a spill. This concern was backed up by several residents from Mayflower, Arkansas and Kalamazoo, Mich., who displayed photos of the horrible damages they face after tar sands “oil” spills in their communities. The people of Kalamazoo have been working on it for three years.
Evan Vokes, a metallurgic engineer and TransCanada whistleblower, testified that, “TransCanada has a long history of rhetoric for theoretical quality of pipelines, as opposed to what they have built in the United States. TransCanada has not been honest about its construction quality problems that were and are relevant to this hearing.”
“Tar sands’ intrusion ultimately affects our climate negatively,” said Faith Spotted Eagle, counselor and founding grandmother of the Brave Heart Society of the South Dakota Yankton Sioux. “It is unacceptable to create jobs that will harm the unborn. We will not relent in our time to stand firm to oppose Keystone XL.”
Most speakers were ranchers and farmers who had been on their land an average of five generations and who were not willing to give it up for a foreign corporation. Nor were they willing to put their families and farms at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals.