Keystone proponent: Big difference in meetings at Glendive and DC

 Keystone proponent: Big difference in meetings at Glendive and DC

By Bob van der Valk

Truth and justice were absent at the raucous U.S. State Department hearing held in Washington DC on Friday, October 7, 2011 at 10 a.m.  My wife and I traveled from Terry, Montana in order to be heard at this important last hearing, in a series of nine — six of which were held in states along the path of the pipeline.

I was able to already make my comments showing support for building the Keystone XL pipeline at the hearing held locally on September 27 at the Dawson Community College Toepke Auditorium in Glendive.  Civility between pro and anti-pipeline factions allowed everyone to speak during the almost six-hour hearing.
Not so at this Washington DC hearing.  The U.S. State Department employees were very courteous with the crowd —these hearings were set up as a way for everyone with a gripe against building this project to state their grievances.  However, no responses were allowed from either TransCanada Pipeline officials or follow up questions asked by the hearing officer.
Envision the scene as walking into the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center seeing people, who had been allowed to sleep overnight, already standing in line.   
Outside the building and our hotel, hundreds of protesters gathered for a rally featuring music and speeches by environmentalists urging President Barack Obama to reject the TransCanada Keystone XL project.
The deck had been stacked by environmental groups against people speaking in favor of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. The first 60 places in line were occupied by college students specifically recruited for the purpose to block pro-pipeline speakers from being able to make their comments.
  Much to our surprise and chagrin the hostility turned personal towards us after I was able to be one of the first ones to make my comments in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. I introduced myself as  an Independent Petroleum Analyst from Terry, Montana and said, “The Keystone XL would make the U.S. more energy secure from countries that are hostile to us and that don't particularly care for our cultures.” The cheers outnumbered the boos after my comments, but the fireworks had just begun.
Sarah Hogdgon from the Sierra Club came up to us during the hearing and questioned our ability to even be able get on the speaker’s roster. The harassment of my wife and I continued even after the hearing. In the atrium of the RR building another anti-pipeline activist followed me around arguing in a loud voice about being a pipeline proponent.
The incivility shown by persons representing the anti-pipeline groups was abhorrent for first time visitors like us to of Washington DC not used to politics as usual.
Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica accused the State department of "making excuses for TransCanada" based on internal emails his group sued to force into the open.
National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schwinger also took aim at the Obama administration in his three-minute allotted time to speak against the Keystone XL line, wondering why Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's schedule included a meeting "with corporate leaders" but made no appearance at the pipeline hearing that day.
The hearing's first hour, while dominated by critics of Keystone XL, also featured testimony from residents along the pipeline route and others who urged State to green light its construction. Their case was summed up by the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Laborers' International Union of North America – LiUNA.
A protest event was held along with an environmentalist press conference at noon outside the building.
After the protest event outside TransCanada CEO Russ Girling eventually spoke and said, "The United States has a choice of receiving more oil from its most secure, most stable and most reliable trade partner, Canada, or to continue to import from less stable locations that do not share the interest and values of Americans," 
This hearing ended up being a staged showcase and a farce for any observer. It made it appear a vast majority of interested parties attending were against this project to receive its final approval for a construction and operating ­permit from President Obama.
Truth, justice and the American way were definitely missing from this U.S. State Department. TransCanada was not given a fair shake.  Russ Girling, TransCanada and most of all Canada are owed an apology from the leaders of the environmental groups hostile to building of the Keystone XL pipeline for the rudeness shown at this meeting.
NOTE: Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana and is an Independent  Petroleum Industry Analyst with over 50 years of experience. He has been  quoted by news media and his opinions are regularly solicited by government  entities, in addition to handling his daily business of managing large scale  supply and marketing operations.  You may contact him at (406) 853-4251  or email at:

Published October 19, 2011


Article Type: 
Guest Opinion


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