NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Keystone Pipeline has been at the center of debate in East Texas over the last several years, but supporters of the pipeline hope a new report put out today shows how the project has helped the region's counties.
Energy officials are singing the praises of the pipeline, saying that over the last 17 months the project has put $5.7 billion into the Texas economy. Over $306 million of that is attributed to the Pineywoods.
"We looked at the number of people TransCanada hired, at the number of wages or the dollars they paid in wages, and at the real economic impact that construction over two years has had," said Michael Whatley with Consumer Energy Alliance.
The report states that Nacogdoches County saw a revenue of more than $117 million, and Angelina County had an impact of over $189 million.
Nacogdoches County Appraiser Gary Woods said the numbers seem inflated to him, and he said he is unaware of any major impact.
"I have not had one person come in here and tell me that they have benefited in any way from the construction or from the pipeline being located here," Woods said. "To address that issue, I do not believe I can tell you one way or the other."
Proponents of the pipeline also believe the counties will continue to see a positive impact.
"There will be a recurrence of spending for upkeep, for maintenance, and operations of the pipeline, so we can expect to see a continued generation of jobs, income and tax revenues," said Bob Weinstein with the Maguire Energy Institute.
Opponents are still not happy. Nacstop has been very vocal in the building process and worries about any loss of environment or life.
"I mean what is the value of even one life as compared to some income or a job here or there?" Vicki Bagett said.
Another group protesting the pipeline in East Texas is Tar Sands Blockade. The group is also not impressed with the pipeline or the report.
CEA's report has all the hallmarks of its industry friendly authors. It makes only a passing reference to climate change and no reference to the fact that the fossil fuel industry spews 98 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every day, using this vital public commons as an open sewer, at no charge," said Treasurer Alec Johnson. "No mention is made of the fact that the industry receives about $14 billion in subsidies every year. Having worked with a number of landowners the author's claims that TransCanada, 'is also committed to negotiating in good faith' is rubbish.
Johnson continued by saying, "When one party, TransCanda, has secured for itself the power of eminent domain, any negotiations are lopsided to say the least. In Texas, we have had many landowners who had no interest in selling their land to TransCanada but had it seized anyway because of their eminent domain power. Eleanor Fairchild was arrested on her own land, trying to halt construction, and Julia Trigg Crawford went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court to try and get justice, unsuccessfully."
Both protestors and local officials are hoping to have a more detailed report that gives a better understanding.
To see the full report, click here.