Texas judge questions his jurisdiction in pipeline dispute

A dispute over construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in Texas may be switching courts after a county judge on Wednesday questioned his jurisdiction.

Nacogdoches County Court-at-Law Judge Jack Sinz asked for pipeline owner TransCanada and landowner Michael Bishop to submit arguments on whether he or a Texas district court judge should have jurisdiction over the case, said  Sinz’s court administrator, June Clifton.

Earlier this month Sinz  issued, then dissolved,  a restraining order halting pipeline work.

Sinz was set to hear arguments Wednesday from TransCanada and Bishop, who argued that the company misled him when he signed an agreement to allow Keystone XL construction on his land.

Bishop has argued that TransCanada misrepresented the product it would transport  through the pipeline from Alberta to the Texas coast as a crude oil. TransCanada says the pipeline will carry diluted bitumen, which it says is the same as any other heavy crude oil that moves through pipelines.

Bitumen is a solid, hydrocarbon-bearing material produced from oil sands that must be heated and diluted so that it can flow through pipelines.

Bishop, citing a congressional document and an Internal Revenue Service tax definition, argued that diluted bitumen is not a crude oil because it is not a naturally occurring liquid.