Farmer Fails to Stop Keystone Pipeline in Texas Court
Lamar County Court-at-Law Judge Bill Harris found TransCanada Corp. had the right to condemn a farmer's property and take the land it needed to install the pipeline.
Julia Trigg Crawford, an East Texas farmer who has gained national attention in her efforts to stop the Keystone pipeline from crossing her family's land, lost the first round of her case in an opinion just released.
Lamar County Court-at-Law Judge Bill Harris found TransCanada Corp. had the right to condemn Crawford's property and take the land it needed to install the pipeline.
Crawford, joined by ranchers, farmers, property rights advocates and others, had argued that the pipeline failed to meet the state's standard of being a "common carrier," which is necessary before a private company can usurp private land. Her case was high-lighted in a Dallas News story.
The Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling this year that mandated a higher standard for common carrier status than the current system, whereby a company self-asserts such status in a one-page document it files with the Texas Railroad Commission. The commission currently does no review.
But Harris found that TransCanada met the definition of common carrier and Crawford had no standing.
TransCanada has contended that there is no doubt about it's ability to qualify as a common carrier and that its pipeline will help create jobs and energy production. Some of the requirements for being considered a common carrier -- such as posting a public price by which other companies can use the pipeline and allowing other pipelines to inter-connect -- have not happened yet because it is too early in the process, the company argued.
Crawford said the laws in Texas allow "carts miles in front of the horse," when companies don't have to offer any proof before the pipeline is already built and the land already taken. And it leaves it to the landowners to mount their own challenges when billion-dollar companies condemn their land, she said.
"We may have lost this one battle here in Paris, Texas, but we are far from done," Crawford said in a statement. " I will continue to proudly stand up for my own personal rights, the property rights of my family, and those of other Texans fighting to protect their land."
She said she already is working in Austin to change the laws to even the playing field.
"Somehow, someway, things must change. If the courts will not address the problem, we will use our voices and votes to bring about change, and we will champion the cause with those who create the laws," Crawford said.
(c)2012 The Dallas Morning News