PARIS, Texas (AP) – The developer of the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline, planned to carry oil from Canadian tar sands to Texas Gulf Coast refineries, may condemn land across a northeast Texas farm for the pipeline’s right of way, a judge ruled Wednesday.
In an email to attorneys Wednesday night, Lamar County Court-at-Law Judge Bill Harris ruled that the pipeline would be a common carrier and that TransCanada has eminent domain rights to right of way across the farm.
Messages left with TransCanada were not returned Wednesday night. However, landowner Julia Trigg Crawford planned to appeal the decision to a state district court in Paris, said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas director of the activist group Public Citizen that is part of the coalition fighting the pipeline project.
In a statement issued Wednesday night, Crawford said she was disappointed that Harris “wholly dismissed our entire case with a 15-word ruling sent from his iPhone.”
Crawford had argued that TransCanada trampled her property rights and that the project could harm Caddo Indian artifacts on her farm. Her attorneys argued that the Keystone XL project did not qualify as a common carrier, meaning under Texas law that it lacked eminent domain powers.
Harris ruled otherwise, meaning the project is under the authority of the Texas Railroad Commission and qualified for land condemnation.
“Judge Harris’ disappointing decision today further highlights the vulnerable and precarious position that Texas landowners are in,” said Debra Medina, a former tea party-favored Republican candidate for Texas governor and property-rights activist.
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