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Texans rally against Keystone XL oil pipeline easement

February 17, 2012|By Kim Murphy

“There were people of all political persuasions outside the courthouse today saying, that’s enough," said Rita Beving, who helped organize the rally.  “There are a lot of pipelines in Texas. We have landowners that have pipelines already on their property, and they will tell you they have never been treated or bullied the way TransCanada has treated them.”

Crawford said the condemnation proceedings to acquire an easement over her family’s farm were filed in August, and they were served with the papers in October.

“It was done. We had an opportunity to go sit with three locally appointed citizens to determine how much we got. Basically, it was a real estate hearing,” she said.

When Crawford filed suit challenging TransCanada’s status as a common carrier under the terms of the Supreme Court decision, TransCanada offered to settle, Crawford said. But the talks stalled and threw the case back into court when TransCanada lawyers would not agree to sign a “standstill” agreement to prohibit any pipeline work on the property until at least March 1.

“We cannot agree to any standstill agreement that includes construction activity,” TransCanada lawyer Amy Burgert said in an email to Crawford’s attorney, which was included in the court file.

“So they want to start construction? And their permit’s been denied?” Crawford said.

Lamar County Court-at-Law Judge Bill Harris granted a temporary restraining order  this month prohibiting TransCanada from making any use of Crawford’s land until the issue can be decided. TransCanada went to court Friday to have the restraining order dissolved, and the judge said he would take the issue under advisement, setting another hearing for next week.

“In the meantime, the [temporary restraining order] still holds,” Crawford’s attorney, John Pieratt, said in an interview.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said the company had no intention of starting construction on Crawford’s property until its international permit is granted, but said the company was seeking to preserve its legal right to pursue easements for the pipeline.

“There’s no construction, so I’m not sure what the panic would be,” he said. “She could have contacted TransCanada and confirmed that, and maybe saved herself some legal fees.”


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