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Keystone XL pipeline brings out the protest in locals

Texas landowners are joining outside activists in the fight against the massive tar sands pipeline going in across their properties. Some, including one great-grandmother, have been hauled to jail.

October 19, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

Susan Scott, 64, another landowner whose property is being crossed by the pipeline, was at the protest too, a black-and-white-striped hat pinned to her head. She scowled at a process server delivering legal paperwork from TransCanada to protesters and vowed not to identify anyone.

Scott said she's afraid the pipeline will leak and is disappointed more locals haven't supported the protesters.

"Country people, a lot of them don't use the computer," she said, "They just believe what TransCanada's telling them."

Dodson, the TransCanada spokesman, said the company deals fairly with landowners and has made extra efforts to safely route and reinforce the pipeline, using thicker pipe, burying pipes deeper and spacing valves so that leaks can be isolated quickly.

"This is going to be the safest pipeline ever built," Dodson said of the $3.2-billion project, which would stretch from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast.

TransCanada recently sent a film crew out to speak with pipeline supporters in East Texas, and the company is still collecting stories from businesspeople and landowners in the area, Dodson said.

"They're enjoying having the increase in business right now," he said. "That is going to be a benefit to communities all along the pipeline."

Eleanor Fairchild disagrees. As she rode a golf cart around her 425-acre hay farm last week, she pointed out where TransCanada contractors were bulldozing a 50-foot-wide swath of land, where towering pines and hickories had been reduced to a tall, dry pile, replaced by "No Trespassing" signs.

"This is bigger than my land," she said. "I just happen to be the one whose land they're going across, and that's sticking their neck out. I've become a different person since this started."

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