"We really cannot over-emphasize how crucial these public hearings are to preventing the precedent of an out-of-state company receiving the state’s power of eminent domain to take private property for its speculative, for-profit venture,” said Jennifer Gatrel, spokeswoman for Block GBE. “We must stand together as a community to protect our property rights!”
The first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, August 12 at 11:00 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Monroe City. That hearing will be closely followed by one at 6:00 p.m. the same day at the Hannibal-LaGrange University Theater Auditorium in Hannibal. Other dates include August 14 in Marceline and Moberly, September 3 in Cameron and St. Joseph, and September 4 in Hamilton and Carrollton.
Block GBE leadership advises citizens who wish to participate to arrive early to have their names added to the speakers’ list, and immediately find a seat inside the meeting room.
Mary Mauch, spokeswoman for the Block RICL Illinois citizens group fighting Clean Line’s Rock Island Clean Line project, has been speaking out about some of the tactics Clean Line used in Illinois last year to pack the public hearings with incentivized speakers and prevent affected landowners from having an opportunity to make their views heard.
“Clean Line bussed in groups of students, offered them a free dinner, dressed them in Clean Line t-shirts and handed out talking points that supported RICL. However, it was clear that the students were ill-informed about the actual purpose and details of the project” said Mauch. “The most disturbing aspect of Clean Line’s stacking of the speaker pool was that many affected landowners who had driven long distances to speak were turned away without a chance to have their voices heard,” she added.
Block GBE believes that Clean Line may be planning a similar scheme in Missouri based on emails and other documents that were divulged by the company during an earlier complaint by Missouri Landowners Alliance regarding Clean Line’s public relations practices.
Group spokesperson Jennifer Gatrel said that the emails revealed that Clean Line had been offering students pizza parties and other “swag” in exchange for gathering signatures on a petition to the PSC supporting Grain Belt Express, and that Clean Line has been planning to bus in college students to the Missouri public hearings for months.
“This is how the transmission permitting game is played,” said Keryn Newman, a nationally-recognized grassroots consultant who observed Clean Line’s efforts to mute the comments of affected landowners in Illinois last fall. “It’s about an effort to simply out-number and out-shout impacted landowners with large numbers of indifferent individuals acting at company direction while motivated by freebies or promises of a fun party with as many friends as they can bring along,” she added.
Some of Block GBE's major concerns are property rights, property devaluation, health effects, and the impediments to farming posed by the lines. Citizens interested in standing up for Missouri and showing Grain Belt Express how much they care about their communities and property rights can get more information about the public hearings at blockgbemo.com or by calling 660-232-1280.
An updated copy of the public hearing schedule can be found here.
Copies of the Clean Line emails can be viewed here.