"GUN BARREL CITY — For nearly 83 years, Jim Howell was hardly one to cause a political ruckus. But this spring, he realized that a crude oil superhighway ran through his backyard — just two feet below his patchy lawn and seven feet beyond a newly built porch displaying a sign declaring 'cowpokes welcome.'"
"'At first I felt guilty and stupid,' Howell said about not knowing that a 20-inch-wide pipeline passed so close to his compact brick house. Guilt turned to alarm as he read more about it, and as representatives from ExxonMobil, its operator, showed up to add a row of yellow- and black-striped warning markers. The pipeline, named Pegasus, was the same one that ruptured about 320 miles northeast of here in March, spewing at least 210,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude into neighborhood streets in Mayflower, Ark.
Now, in year 84, Howell admits to becoming an activist, even if he is not particularly fond of the label. Loosely organized by a few citizen action groups, Howell and others in this town — whose official motto is 'We Shoot Straight With You' — make up a small, but growing pocket of East Texans who are asking federal regulators to permanently shut down the pipeline. The 65-year-old pipeline, which runs from Patoka, Ill. to Nederland, Texas, has been turned off since the spill, while ExxonMobil complies with a corrective action order from the United States Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which regulates interstate pipelines."