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Regional Sierra Club Members Protest Keystone XL Pipeline

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STROUD, Oklahoma -

This week marks five years since the controversial Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed, and the debate is still ongoing.

Environmentalists on Saturday held protests across the nation and right here in Green Country.

Members of the Sierra Club held a march in opposition to the pipeline, but they say they're more concerned about what will be running through it.

In a small park in Stroud, a group of 70 environmentalists are hoping to make a big impression on Oklahoma.

One of six states that could soon been directly connected to Canada though a sprawling $7 billion pipeline.

"The tar sands [are] much more toxic and much more dangerous than the regular crude," Oklahoma Sierra Club member Barbara VanHanken said.

Officer Kate Althoff added, "it's benimen, with chemicals added to make it more fluid to push through the pipes."

The Sierra Club says it opposes what's going through the pipeline just as much as the pipeline itself. The club says, in a spill, normal oil tends to settle on the top of water, but with tar sand, the oil would have to be dredged or dug out.

"That's why I'm here," Althoff said. "It happened 20 miles from my house."

Arkansas Sierra Club member Althoff is talking about a March oil spill in Mayflower, Ark., when the spill flowed through neighborhood streets.

Thousands of gallons were spilled, covering acre after acre and forcing dozens of homes to be evacuated.

"Let's just say, ‘Wait a minute. We're not going to take the short route, the cheap route. We're going to do what we need to do for a community as a whole,'" Althoff said.

VanHanken added, "It does not benefit Oklahoma. We're a cross section."

04/09/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Union To Hold Rally In Support Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Many state representatives disagree, citing the economic impact of the pipeline as a reason to push forward.

Senator Jim Inhofe says the Keystone pipeline would create 1,200 jobs immediately in Oklahoma and up to 14,000 jobs in our state over the years.

"If we stall any longer, the United States risks losing this economic opportunity," he said.

And just this week, U.S. Congressman Markwayne Mullin released this statement:

"Aside from good jobs that Americans deserve, this project will also reduce our energy dependency on countries that don't have our nation's best interests at heart."

A construction date for the northern portion of the pipeline is still up in the air.

It depends on a presidential permit that is awaiting approval.

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