Texas landowner Mike Bishop won a restraining order yesterday, preventing the Keystone XL pipeline from being built until he gets a hearing on December 19.
TransCanada began building the Keystone XL pipeline in south Texas on August 9, but Texas landowners had been arguing with TransCanada over the pipeline path. TransCanada settles with many landowners to use their lands for the pipeline that will bring tar sands from Alberta, Canada to refineries in east Texas. With landowners who resist exposing their property to potential spills of sticky tar, TransCanada uses eminent domain to grab their land.
In Texas, eminent domain is simple for corporations to use. Under eminent domain, private property can only be acquired for public use. However, all TransCanada has to do is check a box on a short form to the Texas Railroad Commission and the private land is condemned and belongs to the company. The box indicates that TransCanada will sell use of the pipeline on the open market.
TransCanada has not been shy about using this power in Texas. They have filed over one hundred claims of eminent domain.
Mr. Bishop is not the only landowner in Texas to file a complaint against TransCanada. He’s the first to win a restraining order. We’ll see what happens at the injunction next week.
Tar sands photo via Shutterstock