TransCanada contractor running pipeline hearings
A reader alerted me to reports that a contractor to TransCanada is running the so-called State Department hearings on the proposed 2,000-mile pipeline that would ship Canadian tar sand oil to Gulf Coast refineries.
Thanks to the Los Angeles Times, we already know the TransCanada consultant Cardno Entrix helped the State Department do two environmental impact statements on the controversial pipeline. No surprise, then, that the State Department concluded the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact as long as it’s done according to regulations.
I’ve spent much of this month working on an oil story that makes it clear to me that all the regulations in the world don’t matter if they are not followed and enforced. Often, in oil country, they are not.
I’m not seeing this reported in the mainstream press — other than by one South Dakota radio station — but on pro-environment web sites Thinkprogress.org and truthout.org (same story), but Bold Nebraska spokeswoman Jane Kleeb says they are right, the hearings were run by Cardno Entrix, and were, in her view, “a mess.” Here’s why, in her words:
From the beginning, all of our groups asked the State Dept to hold
meetings in our communities to comment on the Final Environmental
Originally they were not going to hold a round of meetings on the
Once they announced them, our groups weighed in on where they should
be held (originally State was only going to hold one in Lincoln).
Our next request and suggestion was to have the meetings organized
very clealry so as many people could comment as possible.
The national groups expressed various options, things like have people
register ahead of time so they know their speaking slot time AND so
the State Dept knew how long they needed to meetings.
In Nebraska, we could have easily had 3 days of hearings versus other
states had 2 hours left in their meetings where they just then had
In Lincoln, you had union folks from out of state pushing our folks
and then when our side pushed back the union folks called out for the
In Lincoln and in Atkinson you had union folks signing in for people
like Mike Friend, head of AFP so he did not have to wait in line, so
those folks would wait in line, sign in TransCanada/Union/Allied Group
leaders and then just give them their number tag (people who signed in
to speak were then assign a sticker with a number). We knew he did
this in Lincoln but actually caught him red-handed in Atkinson which
he was not too happy about.
This was told to us by the State Dept that it would NOT be allowed.
Because we wanted to sign in for some ranchers who had morning chores,
we were told we could not that the person who was speaking had to sign
John did talk with the union folks in Atkinson and they did agree to
have each side have equal time for the first 50 speakers. I was not
there for that decision, but I respect John and knew because the way
they had the lines set up outside in Atkinson that maybe that was the
safest way to do it so people didnt push eachother.
But the big problem is Entrix did not think through what happens when
we hit 50, how will the now divided line of pro vs con get signed
in…so then that became a mess to try and “merge” the lines after we
demanded they did so.
When we saw all this happening we told the State Dept to stop signing
people in and asked that they make some corrections, like have folks
show their id. State Dept staff said Entrix is doing the meeting,
Entrix staff said the local police chnaged the sign in process…so as
with many aspects of this issue finger pointing happened while people
were trying to sign in with the process that was outlined by the State
The bottom line…
The rules were “first come, first serve” and you had to sign yourself
We followed those rules, the other folks did not.
We had 80% of the crowd but only 50% of the speaking slots because of
the way they signed people in at both meetings.
The State Dept will say “we stayed late to hear everyone” but the
reality is so many folks wanted to speak and when they got there and
saw they would be #250 or so in Lincoln and #180 or so in Atkinson
they figured there was no way they would be called up and some left or
some just watched then.