On Special Assignment

Nov 14, 2013 11:40 AM by Simone DeAlba - MTN News

Controversy over Keystone XL Pipeline continues

BILLINGS - The Keystone XL Pipeline is called the safest and most advanced pipeline operation in North America, but it doesn't come without its controversy.

Advocates are hoping to have the XL pipeline up and running, but environmental concerns plague the seven billion dollar project.

"In terms of environment impact, if we look at it statically then yes, right now it doesn't look good, but technologies are being developed and a lot of money is going into it to change this," said Stan Pence, the Canadian Consulate to the United States.

Recent reports from Texas show that the southern leg of the pipeline is riddled with problems, which has environmental concerns are taking a front seat.

"There are so many pipeline leaks everywhere that to think it's not going to happen here, is just sticking your head in the sand," said Dena Hoff, an irrigation farmer from Glendive.

Dena and her husband are irrigation farmers in northeastern montana, they say the pipeline is more trouble than it's worth and rural America will find itself in the cross hairs.

"It's destruction on an enormous, enormous scale, and the proposed pipeline will cross the river up river from my farm, and we depend heavily on that water to make a living," Dena said.

Officials say the pipeline boasts a control center that could automatically detect and shut down sections of the pipe in the event of a spill.

"We have got to move those natural resources safely, we have to move them efficiently, and do it in a way that's beneficial to our nation and other parts of this region and to other nations," said North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley.

But the debate runs deep, and for farmers like Dena - it's more than political; it's personal.

"The idea that they can reclaim this prairie especially in certain places, is a joke," said Hoff.

"It's not good when you have to buy crude oil from your enemies, and so the more that we can produce in the United States, the better off we are," Williston Mayor Ward Koeser told us.

"You know I sometimes feel like I'm living in a nation of lab rats, and I don't know why the American public is so willing to be duped, so willing to think that if there is a job attached that it's good," said Hoff.

"We're all staunch environmentalists, we have twin stewardship responsibilities to our economy and to the environment," said Wrigley.

All three congressional delegates have come to a bipartisan agreement that the Keystone XL pipeline should be constructed.

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