TransCanada wins right to build Keystone XL through Texas family farm

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins
Bloomberg News

TransCanada Corp. won a state appeals court ruling allowing it to lay the Keystone XL pipeline across a family farm in northeastern Texas, eliminating one of the last obstacles to completion of the southern leg of the Canadian tar-sands line.

Julia Trigg Crawford claimed TransCanada lacked the right to use state eminent domain laws to cross her 600-acre family farm near the Oklahoma border without her permission.

Crawford failed to convince the trial or appellate courts that Texas law grants condemnation power only to pipelines within the state and not to pipelines crossing state lines. A separate appeals court had rejected the same argument by another landowner, who was also fighting Keystone’s ability to cross his land near Beaumont. TransCanada is based in Calgary.

“The Beaumont court rejected the notion that this section applies only to intrastate pipelines, noting that the Legislature did not use the words ‘interstate’ or ‘intrastate’” in language describing the types of pipeline allowed to use eminent domain, Texas Appeals Court Justice Bailey C. Mosley said in a decision handed down today in Texarkana.

Court Challenges

TransCanada has been fighting court challenges from a handful of landowners who object to the Keystone XL’s route through East Texas. This portion of the pipeline, which connects Beaumont with Cushing, Oklahoma, forms the southernmost leg of a 2,151-mile (3,460-kilometer) system that will carry tar-sands crude from western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast.

“Crawford’s lawyer copied verbatim the pleadings in that other case, which lost,” James Freeman, TransCanada’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview. “The court did an excellent job of seeing this case for what it was.”

Two other Texas landowners are pursuing court battles against Keystone in various state courts, as the pipeline nears completion in Texas, Freeman said.

“There’s no way I’m done fighting,” Crawford said in a telephone interview. “We’re just one family fighting a giant corporation. But if I’ve got a penny left in my defense fund, I’ll seriously consider continuing. We’re regrouping to consider our options. This is a long-term fight.”

The case is Crawford Family Farm Partnership v. TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP, 06-12-00113, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District of Texas (Texarkana).

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