Today marked the beginning of the State Department hearings, and our expectations were confirmed: the Keystone XL’s corporate backers are paying to bus in pipeline supporters to to attempt to tilt the process in their favor and keep opponents of the pipeline from making their voices heard. We don’t yet have any confirmed reports of serious issues, but to help monitor the process, we’ve set up a hotline where anyone at the hearings can leave us a message reporting on any problems they see. Call or text (402) 937-1473 with any reports of issues, and we’ll do our best to spread the word and hold the State Department to their promise to create an open dialog about Keystone XL. UPDATE: This report comes from Kathy DeSilva from Port Arthur, TX: “I attended and spoke at the Port Arthur State Dept. meeting last night. I left with the feeling of being scammed. We arrived 45 minutes early to sign up, & found hundreds of oil field workers already in line (having been bused in) wearing navy blue or orange matching t-shirts, bold lettering: BUILD KEYSTONE XL NOW! GOOD JOBS! U.S. SECURITY! Once we were allowed to sign up to speak (at a table staffed by Cardno Entrix, according to their name tags) we entered the room to find the first 8-10 rows, (left side:suits, right side: oil field workers), filled by these individuals and their slogans. This after being told we could not bring any signs into the meeting? The 2 microphones were set up in the middle, just behind the last rows of bright shirts. When one stood up to speak, these were the only people in the field of vision. The first 40 or so speakers were for the pipeline (having been bused in & stood in line to sign up first). They were told their time limit was 3 minutes, but it was not strictly enforced. Once people started speaking in opposition, we were told it was getting so late, the time was now 2 minutes (strictly enforced). On the sign up table, there was a stack of papers entitled, “Fact Sheet, Keystone XL Pipeline”. No where in this publication is tar sands oil referred to, just “crude oil”. The paper ends with these words: ABOVE ALL ELSE, THE DEPARTMENT IS COMMITTED TO MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF A TRANSPARENT, IMPARTIAL, AND RIGOROUS PROCESS. After driving 4 hours to attend and speak at this meeting, I feel like it was a scam and in no way transparent, impartial and rigorous.”
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