Keystone XL pipeline runs into landowner scrutiny
The Keystone XL oil pipeline is a bubbling topic. New environmental and political arguments seem to rage every day. As part of a four-part series on the pipeline, the StateImpact Texas and Oklahoma project today asked: Will Canadian crude make the Keystone XL pipeline leak? Seems like a worthy question to ask (though there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer…yet.)
Here at Harvest Public Media, we’re particularly interested in issues related to land ownership. (Check out our reporting from Nebraska last year.) Pipeline builder TransCanada says it's secured almost all the land it needs to begin construction of a shortened line from Cushing, Okla. down to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
But American Public Media featured a story today about Julia Trigg Crawford, Texas farmer who’s been battling TransCanada since 2008.
Kate Archer Kent, of Red River Radio, reports that TransCanada condemned part of Trigg's pasture to make way for the 500-mile pipeline. But concerned about the environmental impact to her land and a decline in value with a pipeline running through it, Trigg's challenging eminent domain law that says private property can be taken for public use.
TransCanada offered her $20,000 to use her pasture, but she refused.
From the APM story:
Attorney Hal Cameron has defended thousands of landowners in eminent domain disputes. He says Texas law is clear-cut. Roads, power lines, pipelines will always need to be built.
“Landowners are pretty much up against the wall. Not much you can do. Real fight is over the money. How much will they pay you for protecting your land? How much do they pay you for damaging your land?” Cameron said.
TransCanada spokesman Jim Prescott says legal challenges attract attention, but they're rare. He says the vast majority of easement agreements for pipelines are decided at a kitchen table.
A jury trial is set for April 30.