U.S. consumers loosened their purse strings in September for the third consecutive month.
According to the Commerce Department, America’s cash registers rang up nearly $413 billion in retail sales last month. That’s up about 1 percent from August and it’s nearly 5-and-a-half percent more than September of 2011.
Separately, the Department reports that building permits for new homes rose 15 percent last month in their best showing in more than 4 years.
The National Association of Realtors reports sales of previously occupied homes fell 1.7 percent in September from a two-year high of 4.8 million units sold in August.
The Consumer Price Index rose by six-tenths of 1 percent last month. Higher priced gasoline was blamed for much of the increase.
And crude oil prices fell more than $2 Friday after TransCanada reaffirmed its plans to restart a portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The long-term market impact may be minimal, however, since U.S. supplies -- currently -- are plentiful. But the plan to build a 1,700-mile pipeline to funnel oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries is controversial, nonetheless. And this week, the merits of the project were debated from New York to Texas.
Gov. Mitt Romney: “We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the President said no to that pipeline, I will never know. This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America.”
President Barack Obama: “And with respect to this pipeline that Gov. Romney keeps talking about, we’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire earth, once. So, I’m all for pipelines, I’m for oil production.”
Despite campaign rhetoric, pipelines are being built, albeit reluctantly in some places.
Even in Texas, battles are brewing over Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada, the company proposing the controversial project, wants to pump oil from north of the border to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
But, landowners like Julie Trigg Crawford want to prevent their acres being taken for the pipeline. And they’re challenging the condemnation of their property in court in an effort to slow the project.
Julia Trigg Crawford/Landowner, Sumner, TX "We've fought wars over it. We stood our ground at the Alamo for it. There's a lot of reasons that Texans are very proud of their land and proud when you own that land that you are master of that land and you control that land."
Crawford’s family has denied previous attempts to annex their property. But those projects didn’t cite Texas law to seize land in the public’s interest.
TransCanada is attempting to buy the Crawford’s property and that of 100 other Texas landowners, and the company says rerouting is problematic.
David Dodson, spokesman for TransCanada: “Once that starts happening where does it stop? There are strong environmental reasons to make your impact on the ground as small as possible."
Some landowners are sending Crawford money to help build a legal defense fund.
Julia Trigg Crawford: "This is not about the money, this is not. This is about the right of a landowner to control what happens on their land for something that appears to be for someone else's private gain.
Earlier this year, President Obama denied TransCanada’s request to have the pipeline enter the U.S. from Canada.
But the company did not expect resistance in the Lone Star State.
David Dodson, TransCanada: "Anyone who attempts to build a linear infrastructure project, Texas, wherever it is, it doesn't matter, is facing increased opposition."
The problem for some, Crawford included, is the peaceful existence between oil and ranching has been broken by money and might.
Julia Trigg Crawford: "Those two communities can coexist at times when there's a collaborative environment I think between the two. But it's when one of those two pulls out a club of some kind of strength and beats the other one over the head, and that's what's happening right now."