An agreement reached in an East Texas court between attorneys for a company building a Canada-to-Gulf Coast oil pipeline and various groups protesting the project could signal a retreat on the part of demonstrators.
The Longview News-Journal reported Saturday that lawyers for TransCanada obtained a permanent injunction against Tar Sands Blockade, Rising Tide North America, Rising Tide Texas and others on Friday in Wood County District Court.
Under the injunction, protesters agreed to not go onto TransCanada property to protest; not to prevent access to the company’s right of way easements or equipment or that of contractors; and not to threaten or harm any employees of the company or its contractors.
The injunction encompasses all TransCanada and pipeline contractor properties, personnel and easements in Texas and Oklahoma.
“We are hopeful the protesters mean what they say in this agreement,” said TransCanada spokesman David Dodson.
A spokesman for one of the anti-pipeline groups, Stop Tarsands Oil Pipelines, did not immediately return an email seeking comment Saturday.
TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is designed to carry tar sands oil from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
The Obama administration has twice thwarted the 1,700-mile pipeline, which Calgary-based TransCanada first proposed in late 2008.
The State Department said Tuesday it does not expect to complete a review of the project before the end of March. The State Department has jurisdiction over the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border.
TransCanada has been constructing a shorter portion of the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas. But work in East Texas has been repeatedly stalled by protests in Franklin, Wood, Smith and Nacogdoches counties.
Actress Daryl Hannah was arrested in October in Wood County protesting the pipeline. In December, three people were arrested near the town of Winona after they crawled inside a section of pipe to stall work on the $7 billion project. Others have chained themselves to equipment and built tree houses on easements to stop tree-clearing.
“The poor law enforcement guys have been tied up so long they can’t do their jobs,” Dodson said. “And hopefully those days are over.”
The company hopes to complete the Gulf Coast portion of the pipeline by late 2013.
Read previous FuelFix coverage of the fight between TransCanada and protesters:
Keystone XL activists arrested outside TransCanada Houston office (Jan. 7)
Texas tree protesters to descend as Keystone XL moves on (Dec. 19)
Texas judge dissolves restraining order on Keystone XL (Dec. 13)
Keystone XL opponents arrested (Nov. 29)
Opinions split on Keystone XL protests in East Texas (Oct. 28)
Land commissioner: time for protestors to leave treehouse (Oct. 14)