The U.S. State Department will host the only public meeting over its recently updated draft environmental statement for the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday in Billings
This is the public’s first and only chance to meet with government officials in an open house to talk about the updated draft environmental statement for the controversial pipeline. A federal judge said late last year that the original draft needed further review of potential environmental impacts.
Conservationists, led by the Northern Plains Resource Council, plan to host a rally outside of the meeting to protest what they say is an unfair comments process.
Democratic State Sen. Frank Smith says the Fort Peck Tribes haven’t been adequately consulted during the drafting process.
Olivia Reingold: Since the supplement to the draft has come out, how do you feel like the public comment period has gone?
Frank Smith: I don’t think they’ve ever had one. Not a legal one.
He says the State Department hasn’t adequately notified the Tribes of nearby public meetings, and that for this upcoming one, mailed him a letter and asked him to alert other tribal members.
In its draft, the federal agency says it published notices in local papers, sent notices in the mail and through email, gave hard copies to six Montana libraries and published an electronic version of the draft on the Department’s website.
According to the State Department, the Tuesday open house meeting will be at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit comments through electronic stations, handwritten forms and one-on-one with stenographers.
State Sen. Smith says none of those options really amount to a public comment.
The State Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment in time for broadcast.
Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America corps member.