The Main Street in Circle is a classic small town commercial strip, one that just so happens to be further from a Starbucks store than any other Main Street in America. But more to the point of what Main Street means today—the subject of a special project by NBC News—Circle is in the middle of not only a local fight for survival, but an explosive debate over the future habitability of the planet. (Yes, the planet).
The town hangs like a charm on the proposed route of the Keystone XL, a pipeline that would double the flow of oil from Canada to American refineries in Texas. This $6 billion steel straw would dive under Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, before joining an existing southern leg that connects to the Gulf Coast. This alone requires hundreds of private land owners to sign off, no easy political feat. But because the pipeline also crosses an international border, it requires what has so far eluded TransCanada, the project’s developer: a presidential permit.
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