LU science society co-hosts town hall meeting on proposed pipeline
The Lamar University Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, will co-host a town hall meeting on the Keystone XL tar sands proposed pipeline at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 14 in Geology 101 lecture hall.
Joining in hosting the meeting for professors, students, elected officials and the general public are the local Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Clean Air & Water, Inc. and Big Thicket Association, Westgate said.
The group will discuss the threats that the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline poses to Southeast Texans’ safety, water and air quality, Westgate said. The meeting will cover pipeline permitting procedures, safety concerns, eminent domain issues, and concerns for air and water quality.
“Diluted Bitumen — also called DilBit, or tar sands oil — is the most corrosive and acidic fuel in the world,” said Brittany McAllister, coordinator of the Stop Tar sands Oil Pipelines group, a consortium seeking to prevent the project. Diluted bitumen has caused pipelines to leak at a rate 16-times higher due to internal corrosion than conventional pipelines and requires high pressure and heat to move through pipelines, McAllister said.
The proposed pipeline would pump diluted bitumen through 15 Texas counties: Lamar, Delta, Hopkins, Franklin, Wood, Smith, Rusk, Cherokee, Nacogdoches, Angelina, Polk, Hardin, Jefferson, Liberty, and Harris counties.
“The mining and pre-refining of the diluted bitumen in Canada has been linked to extremely high levels of pollution in surrounding water and higher rates of cancer among nearby indigenous communities,” McAllister said. Migratory birds in that area are also harmed by contact with toxic tailing ponds and air pollution, she said. Emissions generated in the refining process are estimated to be 82 percent higher than those generated in refining conventional crude, McAllister said. “Our communities need to be aware of the tar sands pipeline’s potential for impact.”
A U.S. State Department’s Draft Environmental Impact study on the project, released last year, triggered hearings in many Texas cities including Beaumont. A supplemental study will be released in mid-April, followed by a 45-day public comment period. Landowners and groups opposed to the pipeline are asking for an extended comment period and that hearings similar to those held on the draft study be held on the supplemental so that the public has full chance to comment before a decision is made by the State Department, McAllister said.
“The STOP group has been active in educating citizens and elected officials about foreign company TransCanada’s egregious use of eminent domain as well as how different diluted bitumen is from conventional crude and what impact that difference will have on our lives, our air, and our water,” McAllister said.