Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keystone XL and the “Eminent Domain” Ploy


“Eminent Domain?” Those are fighting words for any red-blooded American – liberal or conservative!

That forwarded e-mail announcing the Economic Justice Petition really caught my attention. Ok so IS a Soros Fund Charitable Foundation. Perhaps this petition is legitimate? Perhaps it isn’t entirely a leftist political ploy to get rid of Keystone XL once and for all? It’s still worth reading because Texas is my home state and if any Texan is facing Eminent Domain proceedings I want to know.

Governor Rick Perry, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (all conservatives) are being petitioned. It’s a short petition and it’s really worth reading especially for what conveniently isn’t mentioned.

Here’s an excerpt of what really caught my attention:

My name is Julia Trigg Crawford, and our family owns a farm in Direct, Texas, which we inherited from my grandfather who purchased it in 1948. A major Canadian company, TransCanada, is trying to build a pipeline to transport a highly toxic hydrocarbon (called “tar sands”) from Alberta, Canada to Texas, to refine it and then export it to foreign countries.
TransCanada is trying to seize my land by claiming it has “eminent domain” rights, which is an area of American law that allows the seizure of private property if it serves a broader societal or economic good. . . .
Please stand with me against the foreign company TransCanada and their attempt to steal my private property and subject me, my family, and millions of others to the hazard and risk of a tar sands pipeline in our backyards.

Wow! I asked myself: How can a foreign company just come in and take your land by using eminent domain? Isn’t there something missing to this petition story? Perhaps I need to find out more?

The more I read the more I got the feeling that this sounds just like the failed Trans Texas Corridor battle? According to the hundreds of articles this Keystone/Eminent Domain issue has generated on Google, the left would have us believe that it is exactly like the TTC.

If anyone remembers history, the TTC was defeated by thousands of ordinary Texans and residents of other states rising up and just saying “NO!” Well, of course they had some help from a few organizations that are still in place and may be actively fighting Keystone XL today.

There’s nary a peep from those who might want to see the Keystone XL pipeline built. At least you could hardly find those peeps on Google; that is until President Obama suddenly made his about face on the entire subject of drilling. Here’s an excerpt from The Way Forward for the Keystone XL Obama’s feigned support doesn’t quite pass the laugh and snicker test.

"Under my administration," President Obama crowed recently, "there is more domestic drilling than at any time in the last 8 years." Perhaps if this president were more concerned with truth than appearance, he might've finished that sentence with "despite my best efforts." Our own domestic production is rising, but not for the reasons recently given by our president.

But I digress. How is it even legal for a private company to condemn private land to build a pipeline for private profit? I found my answer.

According to the DallasMorningNews Opinion Blog here’s the answer:

Under Texas law, only pipelines that are deemed "common carriers" -- the pipeline world's equivalent of a public road -- can condemn property for easements. The state Natural Resources Code says that to gain common carrier status, oil pipeline companies must agree to transport oil "for hire" from any company, without discrimination, based on published fees that are regulated by the state.

The Texas Constitution also gives protections to landowners in property seizure cases by requiring that eminent domain only be exercised for "public use."

TransCanada says it qualifies because (1) it has contracts to deliver other companies' oil and (2) they're delivering something in the public need.

Ok so it’s just an easement for an underground pipe! But Julia’s petition would have us imagine that TransCanada is trying to seize the land entirely away from her or her cattle’s use.

It’s not really like the failed Trans Texas Corridor, where they were actually trying to take the land (above and below ground) for a massive highway and RR system. Julia is fighting an easement for a pipe running way under her land that might leak someday and might cause horrible environmental damage. Of course, that’s assuming that leaks are always inevitable. Given that kind of logic few of us would take to the highways every day.

According to the New York Times, “In what has been interpreted as a virtual green light for the project, a State Department report in August concluded that the pipeline would have minimum environmental impact if operated under federal regulations.”

But there’s still more to this story. Whatever happened to just compensation? According to a NYT article, at least one Texas resident succumbed to leftist scare tactics and gave up $60,000!

An East Texas landowner, Eleanor Fairchild, said that a TransCanada representative arrived at her house a few days before her husband died of Alzheimer’s in 2009. At first, she considered the $42,000 offer — later raised by $18,000 — for a 50-foot easement on her 425 acres. But she said that the more she learned about the pipeline, the less she wanted it on her land.

Now I want you to take a look at that picture at the top of this page. That’s a map of all pipelines in the US. Notice the solid red in southeastern Texas? That’s where the refineries are located.

Many of those red lines are very old pipelines. A few might even leak someday but the Environuts are worried about a brand new pipe leaking??? What about the rest? Or maybe they believe that TransCanada will deliberately design them to leak???

Big Question: I’d like to know what rancher or farmer in Texas with more than 5 acres doesn’t have a pipeline running underground through his or her land?

According to a Huffington Post February 27th article, President Obama suggested this plan, but don’t let the left dwell on it.

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday welcomed a Canadian company's plan to build an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas after President Barack Obama blocked the larger Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

The new proposal by Calgary-based TransCanada does not require presidential approval because it does not cross a U.S. border. The 485-mile pipeline is expected to cost about $2.3 billion and be completed next year, pending approval by federal, state and local governments.

The Obama administration had suggested development of an Oklahoma-to-Texas line to alleviate an oil bottleneck at a Cushing, Okla., storage hub. . .

Three days earlier, on February 24, 2011, a Lamar County Court Judge ruled against Julia Trigg Crawford.

The ruling said that Keystone XL Pipeline may proceed through the northernmost of 18 Texas counties on its route to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Lamar County Court at Law Judge Bill Harris granted pipeline maker TransCanada’s motion to dissolve a temporary restraining order that had been based on a landowner’s claim the project could harm Caddo Indian artifacts on her family farm.

A full trial that will include other objections by landowner Julia Trigg Crawford, including her concerns for water quality and public safety, is set for April 30.

Crawford had asked Friday for Harris to approve an injunction barring further pipeline activity until the trial concludes. The judge’s ruling gave TransCanada, whose lawyers argued was losing money every day the project stalled, a green light to proceed without waiting for the trial.

According to the Keystone XL foes, this ruling is just round one.

At issue in the lawsuit is whether the company can use “eminent domain” to condemn her land and that of others because pipelines are “common carriers.” A Texas Supreme Court decision last year suggested that such condemnations may be unconstitutional. Some say this could be a landmark case. One opponent of the pipeline says she has found 89 legal actions taken by TransCanada against Texas landowners to enforce eminent domain.


1 comment:

  1. Obama's friend Buffett owns the railroad wanting to transport the oil from Canada by rail! Need I say more?