Jacksonville Daily Progress
The 391 Commission Region 6 board of directors decided by unanimous vote Monday night to approach state and federal officials in the near future and begin a dialogue about their opposition to TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline project.
The East Texas-based group, which consists of members from Gallatin, Alto, and Reklaw, decided to approach District 11 State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, first because of his proximity.
"Hopefully, we can set some personal meetings," board member Hoyte Davis said Monday night.
Clardy, when reached Tuesday, said he hadn't heard from the group yet but welcomed their visit.
"There are very thoughtful people on both sides of the issue," Clardy said. "I've said this to people on both sides of the issue: I am in support of the pipeline. But there are questions that have not been answered to my satisfaction about the scope of it, what the pipeline's intended use is, what will be transported through it and what it will be after it is refined."
Clardy said he has kept a close eye on this issue.
"This isn't a 'that's interesting, but it's not MY backyard' situation. This involves all my backyards.”
Clardy added he understands people have ecological concerns and he does not want to make light of that.
"I, too, want answers,” he said. “This is of paramount importance to me. Also, I really don't want to see the oppressive, overly aggressive use of eminent domain on this land."
And ultimately, he said, “Nobody wants to see a catastrophic spill."
In July it was reported that the 391 Commission, otherwise known as the the East Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission, had joined the Sierra Club in a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in opposition to the pipeline project.
The Gulf Coast segment of the project is a 435-mile long pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast, expected to move 700,000 barrels of oil per day once operational.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Tulsa recently approved a segment of TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline planned to run from Cushing to Texas.
The pipeline has drawn fierce opposition from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, which said the $5.3 billion pipeline is a natural disaster waiting to happen if a section were to leak and threaten the drinking water supply for millions of Americans.
Board member Uris Roberson said getting the word out is very important.
"We need to reach the average people and let them know what's going on – they just don't know," he said.