East Texans react to State Department report on Keystone XL Pipe - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

East Texans react to State Department report on Keystone XL Pipeline

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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

Government agencies have 90 days to comment on the Keystone XL Pipeline, traveling from Western Canada to a hub in Nebraska, after the State Department released a report today saying the pipe poses no major environmental issue.

The 1,179-mile pipeline would travel through the U.S., carrying oil derived from tar sands. The northern portion of the pipe needs government approval because it crosses a U.S. border.

The bottom portion of the pipe, traveling through Oklahoma, and Texas is already built. Oil started flowing through the southern portion of the pipe last week. 

East Texans have been fighting the flow of tar sands through our area for the last few years. Many say Friday's report is a step backwards in their battle. 

"I'm terribly disappointed  and extremely concerned," says Vicki Baggett, a member of NacSTOP, a group that is still protesting the Transcanada pipeline here in East Texas. 

Baggett and others are questioning the report, saying Transcanada has ties with the people who conducted the environmental impact statement. 

"We are at risk," Baggett says. 

The report stops short of recommending the pipeline, but does give President Obama new support if he chooses to endorse the northern segment. 

Many are concerned about possible spills. 

"There's one side that says there's too much risk in the contamination with our future water supply. And then you've got the other side that says there's opportunity, employment, in the future we need the oil," says one East Texas man. 

Others agree tar sands will likely be developed even if the U.S. is not involved and that other methods of transporting the oil would be worse for the environment. 

"It's not going to hurt anything. There are a lot of pipelines in the country people don't even know about and don't care," says another man.

We asked Transcanada if tar sands are already flowing through East Texas. A Transcanada spokesman said "Oil is oil, what the protestors call tar sands is in a heavy oil so this pipeline is designed to carry oil."

Protestors say there is a big difference because tar sands are much more toxic. Many are tired of arguing about it. 

"It's speculation, until something bad happens or until hopefully something good happens," adds an East Texas man. 

Secretary of State John Kerry will make a recommendation to President Obama in the Spring on whether or not the project is in our nation's interest. A final decision is not expected before Summer. 

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