Report highlights TransCanada pipeline's economic impact, some East Texans unimpressed

Report highlights TransCanada pipeline's economic impact, some East Texans unimpressed

TransCanada is still pushing for approval to finish the Keystone XL project with a link between Canada and Oklahoma that will connect to the tar sands pipeline recently completed between Oklahoma and the Texas gulf coast. A new report claims the just-finished section in Texas was a big boost to the economy.

Some argue that the money is just a drop in the bucket and that the Keystone XL is still dangerous.

You might remember Eleanor Fairchild from a protest that went viral after she got arrested with actress Daryl Hannah. The kicker was that she was protesting pipeline construction on the Wood County land she's owned for decades.

"I knew it was really hard to fight big money," she said Friday.

Fairchild said she has no regrets about the war she waged. With the pipeline now in the ground behind her house, she finally went ahead and settled with TransCanada as far as the money for the land the company took. But, she said, her demands were met.

"They did not take away my freedom of speech," Fairchild said of the negotiations and attempts at non-disparagement clauses. "I can say anything I want to about TransCanada."

Following lawsuits in which Fairchild said the company called her an "eco-terrorist," she also received a written apology.

After all that, the Consumer Energy Alliance is singing the pipeline's praises.

In Wood County--where Fairchild lives--the pipeline contributed an estimated $290 million to the economy. Construction workers got paid $137 million.

Statewide, those numbers were $3.6 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively.

But people like Fairchild argue it makes no difference in the long run.

"There's a little grocery store across the street that sold lunches and stuff to these people," she said. "But they were only in here a few months. Now nobody's going over there hardly."

The report focuses on the Gulf Coast and its refineries when it comes to lasting economic impact. Very little was written in support of any substantive long term impact to East Texas.

Many of those workers migrate from county to county and the money leaves with them.

Still, the fight to build to the north is strong and lawmakers are getting on board.

"With the affordable, abundant supply of energy, that's going to have an impact on our economy," Nebraska Republican State Senator Jim Smith said.

Fairchild still worries pipes that had flaws before ever carrying the tar sands could leak and ruin East Texas' drinking water for decades.

"It's like the fox designing the hen house and then they built it too. And nobody was watching. And I say where was our government?"

She said her hope is that the example she set turns out to be like lighting a fire, and that the flames will continue to grow.


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