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Texas landowner fights Keystone pipeline through her farm Print E-mail
Written by Terri Hall   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Link to article here.

Your Land is My Land …

Keystone pipeline company runs roughshod over Texas landowners – and maybe Texas law.

Ft. Worth Weekly
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 08:59
Peter Gorman

When someone from the TransCanada company asked the Crawford family in 2008 about an easement to lay pipeline across their farm on the Texas bank of the Red River, the family wasn’t interested.
The Crawfords thought that would be the end of it, and why wouldn’t they? Twice before the family had been approached in a similar fashion by pipeline companies, and when the family said they didn’t want their Lamar County farm disturbed, the companies simply used another route.

But TransCanada wouldn’t do that. The firm, hired to move tar sands bitumen — a mix of sand, clay, and water saturated with an extremely dense petroleum — from Alberta, Canada, to the Houston refineries along what’s been dubbed the Keystone Pipeline XL, upped its offer on the easement a couple of times between 2008 and 2011 from $7,000 to $21,000. When the Crawfords continued to say they weren’t interested, TransCanada went ahead and condemned the land it wanted in September 2011.

Since then, the two parties have been in a legal wrestling match pitting the Crawfords — farm manager Julia Trigg Crawford, her younger brother and sister, and their dad — against a multinational billion-dollar corporation that claims the right to take, by eminent domain if necessary, any land they want to lay pipe on.

It’s the latest version of the David and Goliath story that has already affected thousands of Texans who’ve been steamrolled by the natural gas industry. But this version goes beyond the usual pipeline land-grabs, because it involves a company taking property years before it will obtain a permit to lay the pipe — a company that may not be in compliance with Texas law and therefore may not have the legal right to take anything.

Despite those questions, TransCanada has been involved in at least 89 eminent domain land seizures in Texas alone. The fight involves the issue of which government agency, if any, oversees pipeline companies and their use of eminent domain. Landowners are asking why there is nothing in state law to make a company show the need for a new pipeline before it is allowed to seize private lands — and why individual landowners are having to go to court to thrash out issues that they believe should be covered by state law and public policy.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 April 2012 )
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