The Sierra Club's Beyond Oil campaign collected 296,000 written comments on Keystone XL, and submitted them by email to Cardno Entrix, the TransCanada-affiliated firm that evaluated the pipeline. When a bunch of the comments ended up "lost," they resubmitted them to the State Department. But, says Inside Climate News, the State Department didn't want 'em.

From April through June, [campaign director Kate Colarulli's] organization worked with seven other anti-pipeline groups to collect 269,000 written comments from their members. They submitted them electronically to a Cardno Entrix email address set up for that purpose.

But in July, when the Sierra Club checked the website that Carno Entrix maintains for the State Department, Colarulli said her office found that the company's count came up short by 94,000 comments. About 25,000 of the missing comments were written by Sierra Club members, she said.

"So we reached out to [State Department official] Alex Yuan, just saying there's a discrepancy, this is pretty weird," Colarulli said. "Mr. Yuan was pretty concerned."

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Yuan told the Sierra Club to load the missing comments onto CDs and mail them to the State Department, Colarulli said. Two days later, Yuan "wrote us back and said never mind … we're not willing to take these comments."

These aren't the only comments that have fallen into a black hole. The agency was unable to explain to Inside Climate News exactly who would listen to and evaluate public testimony from hearings on the pipeline, or how and when that would happen.

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Comments from the last round of Keystone XL hearings were published, as required by law, in a giant appendix to the environmental impact report. But these hearings are covered under a different law, which doesn't require the State Department to respond to public comments.