Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P.       

September 7, 2013;
Earth Shakes, Welds Break

Since May 10, 2012, the East Texas town of Timpson has experienced a total of 13 earthquakes and aftershocks. For some reason, even if the tremor is say a 4.8 magnitude (May 17, 2012), it is classified by the United States Geological Survey as an “aftershock” if the occurrence is within a year of the first earthquake. But the reality is that in the past 16 months, there have been 13 occurrences, with four greater than 4.0 magnitude.

Why should we care?

These incidents are happening at the eastern edge of the Mt. Enterprise Fault Zone. The Keystone XL pipeline crosses the Mount Enterprise fault zone. By the end of this year TransCanada hopes to begin transporting toxic tar sands across the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, the water supply for 60 counties in East Texas.

The corporation behind this pipeline, TransCanada, claims in the FEIS that the Mount Enterprise fault zone is inactive.

Below is an excerpt from the March 2011 Lawrence Dunbar report (note that this came out over a year before the occurrence of these earthquakes):

If these faults are “active”, then there is an increased risk of pipeline failures/ruptures as the ground shifts, with subsequent releases of the hazardous tar sands oil into the surrounding soils and near surface waters. With the outcrop area of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer being located in the vicinity of where the pipeline would cross this fault zone it is important to know for sure that these faults are not “active”.
Again, this report came out 14 months before these earthquakes began.

The Mt. Enterprise Fault Zone is quite obviously active!

It is ludicrous to assume that the movement deep within the earth that is producing these earthquakes will have no effect on the welds of the Keystone XL pipeline.

With only a few months remaining before the planned start-up of the Keystone XL pipeline, there has never been a more crucial time to demand TransCanada be stopped in their attempt to begin transporting tar sands oil across our land!

July 3, 2013;
What is TransCanada Hiding?

On July 1, the East Texas Observer was asked to document pipe being repaired due to anomalies in Douglass, Texas. For three days the Observer tried to film, but was deliberately blocked by TransCanada from filming the repairs. Why is TransCanada hiding their repair work?

June 16, 2013;
How Can We Trust You, TransCanada?

For the past few weeks the East Texas Observer has been driving the East Texas roads crossed by the Keystone XL pipeline. What the Observer has seen would be unbelievable to most people.

Beginning in Saltillo, and following the path of the KXL down through Winnsboro, then south to Cherokee County, the pipeline excavations are visible at over 90% of the road crossings. Based on this observation, one has to wonder how much is being excavated back on property unseen from the road?

TransCanada’s spokesperson Shawn Howard is quoted as saying he didn’t know how many anomalies there are in total, but said the company is fixing nine separate sections in Texas. In an email he wrote this:

“By law, we are required to replace a minimum of nine feet - meaning that in total we are replacing about 81 feet of pipeline.”

Shawn Howard also told the Longview, Texas, News-Journal that inspections had revealed “small imperfections” in the pipe.

Wait a minute… is this the same TransCanada spokesperson Shawn Howard who said this about the peaceful, non-violent protests of the Tar Sands Blockade?

“During construction, we have encountered a number of confrontations and trespasses on the company’s right-of-way (employees/contractors being grabbed, threats of serious physical harm and violence) that have required our company to take additional security precautions.”

You know, TransCanada, when your statements are so easily proven false, one has to wonder why anyone should trust your company when it claims to be building the “safest pipeline ever”.

The East Texas Observer encourages you to watch the videos if you are interested in truth.

KXL, Lies, & Videotape

May 31, 2013;
The Keystone Cover-Up

Intro tune: "Broke and Still Breaking" by Ted Russell Kamp.

Why is TransCanada digging up their newly laid pipe?

Due to anomalies found when the Keystone XL was tested, TransCanada is having this pipeline dug up in 70 locations between the Sabine and Sulphur Rivers. Some of the stakes identify problems with the welds. Others simply say, “dent- cut out”.

Is it that easy to dent this pipeline?

Could it be that the pipeline ditch was inadequately prepared?

There must be adequate backfill under the pipe, or it will sag and welds will loosen. Were the rocks removed from the ditches before laying this pipe?

What happened to the “57 Special Conditions” TransCanada says are being followed for this pipeline to transport toxic tar sands across our aquifers?

Some East Texas landowners have been told by TransCanada representatives that in the area south of the Sabine River, even more anomalies have been found. This area will be excavated in the next few weeks.

In an AP article dated May 31, TransCanada's Shawn Howard says that inspections of the pipeline revealed “small imperfections”. He says nine sections totaling about 81 feet will be repaired.

This is a rather low figure, and contrary to independent observation and documentation. And really, TransCanada? Do you really consider imperfect welds and dented pipe to be “small imperfections”? Because if so, what are the implications for our water supply once this carcinogenic product flows across our country?

February 4, 2013;
10 Earthquakes

The insidious path of Tran$Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline will transport its toxins directly across the Mount Enterprise fault zone. The recent earthquakes occurring over the Mt. Enterprise fault zone should force a re-evaluation of the Keystone XL route through East Texas.

There have now been 10 earthquakes since May 2012, all centered around Timpson, Tx. This is an area where there had been no earthquake activity until heavy fracking and deep injection wells were introduced.

Here are the stats, courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey:

Below is an excerpt from the March 2011 Lawrence Dunbar report (note that this came out over a year before the occurrence of these earthquakes):
"The DEIS states that while the potential for spills would still exist with the transporting of the tar sands crude oil, it also notes that the routing of the proposed pipeline was done to avoid the most sensitive areas in order to conclude that there was a low probability of impacts to natural resources. However, the routing of this pipe-line is directly across numerous faults in southwestern Rusk County. If these faults are “active”, then there is an increased risk of pipeline failures/ruptures as the ground shifts, with subsequent releases of the hazardous tar sands oil into the surrounding soils and near surface waters. With the outcrop area of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer being located in the vicinity of where the pipeline would cross this fault zone it is important to know for sure that these faults are not “active”.

The DEIS states that “the proposed route would not cross any known active faults…” (Section ES.6.1.4).

In Conclusion: Contrary to the above claims made in the DEIS suggesting a low probability of impacts to human and natural resources, the route of the proposed pipeline does not avoid the most sensitive areas when it comes to the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer, since the pipeline will cross the outcrop portions of the aquifer, where a near-surface oil spill of tar sands crude oil would be able to enter into the aquifer system, degrading its water quality. In addition, the fact that the proposed route of this pipeline will be directly through the Mount Enterprise Fault Zone will only increase the probability of a spill."

Again, this report came out 14 months before these earthquakes began. It should be obvious to anyone that the Mount Enterprise Fault Zone is active and that the earthquakes will have a devastating effect on any tar sands pipelines that would cross this zone.

November 28, 2012;
Can the Keystone XL Pipeline Be Stopped?

The short answer is “yes”.

IF: You are willing to put the health of our community, our nation, & our planet above the profits of a private corporation.

IF: You are willing to speak up, to step outside of your comfort zone, knowing that your actions are crucial to success in stopping this toxic tar sands pipeline from crossing east Texas.

Yes, it CAN be stopped.

To quote the well known anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And paraphrasing John Lennon: This pipeline is over, if you want it.

November 23, 2012;
Why are These Bullies not in Jail?

The East Texas Observer observes that things are not always the way they’re presented to the media by local law enforcement agencies.

Below is an eyewitness account, sent to the ETO, from an individual who was present at the action on November 19th when unconscionable actions were used against peaceful protestors. There is no justification for the violent response by Cherokee and Nacogdoches county law officials.

An Eyewitness Account of Monday's Blockade/Protest:

The Cherokee County sheriffs had given us considerable cause for alarm. After pepper-spraying people who had non-violently locked themselves to pipeline construction machinery at another site earlier in the day, they were now threatening to cut critical ropes that supported tree-sits. The ropes were tied to heavy machinery next to the Angelina River and were set up in such a way that they were each independently supporting one of the three tree-sits platforms about 60 ft. above the ground. To cut these lines would mean dumping the people out of the tree-sits and potentially killing them.

Knowledgeable people in the tree-sit support team had explained this many times to the lead sheriff but he still claimed he didn't believe it and was planning to cut some of the lines. Many of us there were planning to get in the way of the sheriffs if they appeared to start executing this plan.

Soon the crowd had swelled to over 100 people protesting the pipeline and supporting the blockaders. As the crowd mingled and held signs, a large semi carrying a cherry-picker on a flatbed pulled up to the protest and began to slowly roll past. It was apparent that it had been brought in for the police to use in an attempt to take down the tree-sits.

People on the support team immediately moved in to the road to block the truck's advance with their bodies. One person laid down on the road but the truck didn't stop and soon he was half way under the front bumper. Others began repeatedly shouting at the driver to stop and tried to drag their friend out from under the truck as it continued to roll forward.

As this happened, roughly forty or fifty people moved into the path of the truck and it finally halted. Moments later, a few sheriffs walked up to the front of the truck and without warning began spraying people in the face with pepper spray. People began screaming, young and old clutching their faces in pain. The crowd backed away and the sheriff continued spraying in wide arcs until he had run out of spray.

November 11, 2012;
Does TransCanada Have a Shortage of Happy Landowners?

On Sunday,October 21st, the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel published a half page ad featuring Sour Lake landowner Linda Romero. Concerning the tar sands bearing Keystone XL pipeline Ms. Romero smilingly states that “This pipeline is going to be good for Texas, but it’s going to help the whole United States.”

Fast forward to three weeks later, when the same Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel published another half page ad by TransCanada. Interesting, this time their ad featured Ms. Romero’s husband, Wesley Romero from Sour Lake. The ad printed on Sunday, November 11th has Mr. Romero gushing, “I’ve got eight pipelines on my property here. Pipelines are what keep this country running.”

Linda Romero fails to explain how this export pipeline is going to be good for Texas, nor how it will help the whole United States, and her husband Wesley Romero has no explanation as to how this toxic bitumen pipeline will keep our country running. One has to wonder why TransCanada has to use a couple who live 119 miles from Nacogdoches to extol the virtues of the pipeline in the Nacogdoches newspaper.

Could it be that TransCanada has to go all the way to Sour Lake to find anyone willing to speak in favor of their Keystone XL pipeline, and then actually has to use the owners of the same piece of property?

November 1, 2012;
What Could be More American?

TransCanada enjoys pointing out that some members of the TarSands Blockade group have arrived in Texas to fight the pipeline from various places around our country.

On Oct. 4, in response to the protest by 78-year old great grandmother Eleanor Fairchild and actress Daryl Hannah (which, incidentally, was on Texas landowner Mrs. Fairchild’s own property) TransCanada released this statement:

"It is unfortunate Ms. Hannah and other out of state activists have chosen to break the law by illegally trespassing on private property.”

Besides being inaccurate in Mrs. Fairchild’s case (she is a Texan arrested protesting the stealing of her own land through eminent domain) TransCanada is conveniently forgetting an important point:

They themselves are a foreign corporation, who have barreled their way across the United States, seizing property for their pipeline. Never mind that 12.5% of Texas property owners approached by this bullying company did not want this toxic tar sands pipeline crossing their land- unheard of in Texas, long known for being oil friendly.

The point should be noted that Americans have come together to fight against a foreign pipeline company notorious for its leaks and spills. The contamination of our nation’s water concerns us all, and we in East Texas are grateful for the support of our friends from around the United States in stopping the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (otherwise known as the Gulf Coast Project).

October 26, 2012;
Fault Zones, Earthquakes, and the Keystone XL Pipeline

In the spring of 2011, the Reklaw/Gallatin 391 commission submitted some questions to TransCanada concerning the Keystone XL Pipeline, otherwise known as the “Gulf Coast Project”.

One question asked:
“What is the viability of this pipeline should there be an earthquake, not unlike those other Texas and Oklahoma regions, due to increased hydrofracking activity in the area?”

Here is TransCanada’s response:
According to studies and the Final Environmental Impact Statement, the pipline does not cross any active fault zones in Texas. The Mount Enterprise Earthquake Zone is not a historically active zone. A report prepared by pipeline opponents in April 2011 was severely flawed. According to the opponent’s report, “The eastern and western ends of the fault zone were most active between 120 and 40 million years ago, whereas the central parts were more active since 40 million years ago…” Thus, the Mount Enterprise is not considered a historically active earthquake area.

Fast forward to a year later, where a series of earthquakes, ranging from 4.8 to 2.1 in magnitude all occurred near the Mount Enterprise Fault Zone. Here is the timeline:
May 10: 3.9, NW of Timpson, Tx.
May 17: 4.8, ENE of Timpson, Tx.
May 20: 2.7, SSW of Timpson, Tx.
May 26: 2.5, S of Timpson, Tx.
June 16: 2.1, SSW of Timpson, Tx.

According to Michael Brunt, a field researcher working with the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, “Obviously, the fault is active. Regardless of whether it’s natural of induced by hydrofracking, the fault is active, so you have to expect more earthquakes.”

The Keystone XL pipeline is being constructed across the Mount Enterprise Fault Zone. Maybe TransCanada needs to rethink their answer to the safety concerns posed by the 391 commission?

September 25, 2012;
What if This Were Happening to You?

It did!

(The post that was originally published here was removed due to TransCanada's threats against the individual of whom the editorial was written.)

September 8, 2012;
If Corporations are People,
Why Doesn’t TransCanada Have a Heart?

In 1957, David Hightower’s parents bought 70 acres of land and moved their family onto the property north of Winnsboro, Texas. The land is rolling and beautiful, and from the time David was three years old he called it home.

David grew up, married, raised a family and spent 20 years serving in the U.S. Air Force. In 1999, David and his wife retired back to his homeplace to start up a vineyard and plant an orchard. They now have 500 running feet of productive muscadine grapes, as well as mature peach, pear, and persimmon trees.

David’s mother, in her 80’s, was approached by TransCanada several years ago with a contract for the Keystone XL pipeline to cross this property. She signed, without fully understanding what this would mean. She has since passed away, and David, while not wanting the pipeline, also didn’t want to cause his mother additional stress in her last years of life by vocalizing his opposition to this project.

The pipeline will take out a good portion of his vineyard and fruit trees. It will be mere feet away from their home. This is not the peaceful retirement that David and his wife envisioned. The destruction to their vineyard and orchard will be immense.

David talked to representatives about just moving the pipeline over a few feet, so at least the vineyard and trees would be spared. TransCanada refused to change the pipeline route.

In David Hightower’s words, “I just wish they would go away”.

The East Texas Observer cannot help but observe the lack of help Texans have received from our elected officials to protect our land from vicious predators such as TransCanada. This pipeline, carrying a bellyful of poison, will benefit no one but TransCanada. Why are thieves being allowed to steal our property?

Come & Take It Vineyard
photo courtesy [email protected], all rights reserved

Isn’t it time to take a stand?