Public Hearing on Keystone Pipeline Project in Texas
Central Texas residents and government officials will get a chance Wednesday to tell the federal government what they think about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline Project. It would pump oil sands from Canada down to Gulf Coast refineries. The company TransCanada wants permits to build about 530 miles of pipe in Oklahoma and Texas, and some Texas residents hope to stop them.
David Daniel is probably the most vocal landowner fighting against the Keystone Pipeline Project. He recently completed a two-week tour to Washington, DC, protesting the pipeline that will run through his ranch in Winnsboro, Texas, north of Tyler. Daniel has already signed an easement agreement with TransCanada, about $14,000 for an 1.5 acres of his property. But Daniel maintains that was after two years of intimidation and lies.
“They made sure that I understood that they had the power of eminent domain,” Daniel told KUT News. “They said, if I did not take this offer, they were then going to take me to court, and I would have more expenses because they would have to hire an attorney, and I wouldn’t have any additional clauses for like water testing or erosion management or anything like that.”
More than 500,000 of oil per day will be pumped through 16 northern and eastern Texas counties. The pipeline would end at a terminal in Port Arthur. A shorter pipeline will connect Port Arthur to East Houston. Daniel says one thing that bothers him is the protection and thickness of the pipelines.
“A 36-inch diameter pipeline that is high pressured, high heat, corrosive material with a wall thickness of less than a half inch at .465 [of an inch],” he said. “It just didn’t make any sense. It doesn’t add up.”
TransCanada executives counter that the pipelines will be inspected on the ground and by air. They also say small devices that float within the pipes have the technology to detect corrosion of pipe walls.
In the final environmental study, the U.S. State Department reported TransCanada has had 14 spills since 2010 from their existing pipelines, though the spills were small. For Pastor Lou Snead, that’s more than enough. He is part of the Interfaith Environmental Network, a coalition of Austin faith leaders who see protecting the earth as a religious duty.
“Even though the industry says ‘Oh, this will be totally safe, and look at our record,’” Snead said. ” But it only takes one or two of those disasters to really create a huge, huge problem for lots of people.”
Snead says the long-term consequences outweigh the short-term benefits.
A Perryman Group economic report concluded the pipeline will generate construction jobs and, over the long term, more than $1 billion in new local property tax revenues. But the state environmental study of the project shows that 10 to 15 percent of the jobs hires in each section of the Oklahoma-Texas pipeline will be local.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Keystone project say the pipeline will give the U.S. a secure supply of oil, rather than relying on less-stable sources overseas. Terry Cunhan is a spokesperson for TransCanada. He said that Gulf Coast refiners, like Valero and Conoco Phillips, are seeing less crude oil from Venezuela and Mexico. So, they’re on board.
“We built this project because we had long-term contracts in place,” Cunhan said. “We didn’t build this project hoping to get contracts.”
The federal government could decide the project’s fate by the end of the year. Wednesday’s hearings starts at noon in the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium at the University of Texas’ Thompson Conference Center.