Absent were the celebrities and environmental protesters seen at the White House over the summer.
Instead, the job hungry came en mass (sic) Monday to the Robert A. "Bob" Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur, turning the first part of a State Department public hearing on the Keystone XL crude pipeline into a virtual rally for the project.
For about the first two hours, the only critical comments of the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would connect tar sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Port Arthur came from those expressing concerns that the jobs created would not go to Southeast Texans and that the State Department was moving too slowly in issuing a permit.
It's no surprise to me really. This is where I grew up; the oil (refining) patch. The area is hurting -- though not so bad as they would think, particularly in comparison to many other places in the country. They just cannot break out of the generational paradigm that's been in place since Spindletop.
They've lived with refinery pollution for decades. What's a little more as long as they can get paid?
Republican Texas State Rep. James White, whose district includes Angelina, Trinity and San Jacinto counties, noted that the agency had already assessed the environmental impact and said he wanted to see the permitting process expedited.
"This is why people are frustrated with government," he said to applause from a crowd numbering around 500. "We need jobs!"
Garden variety demagoguery. Port Arthur is nowhere near James White's statehouse district, but redistricting has paired him in a GOP primary with Tuffy Hamilton and he needs to stoke that TeaBagger fear and hate back home if he wants to entertain any notion of going back to Austin. Here's Dustin Matocha, chairman of the UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas, writing at Empower Texas with all the background on that race you can possibly stand. Now back to the Golden Triangle ...
Earlier Monday, 200 people attended a meeting in Topeka, Kan., with a drastically different audience than the one seen in Port Arthur. In Kansas, a number of environmentalists spoke against the pipeline, claiming it would move a "dirtier" and "environmentally devastating form of energy" from Canada through six U.S. states before ending up in Port Arthur ...
Well those damned Kansas liberals.
There's another hearing tomorrow in Austin -- none in Houston, where the pipeline's other southern terminus will be located -- and I'm just guessing a different crowd will turn out for that one.