Judge: TransCanada can use eminent domain

Aug. 23, 2012 at 8:52 AM

BARNESVILLE, Texas, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- TransCanada has the right of eminent domain, a Texas judge ruled, rejecting an effort to block construction of a portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Lamar County Judge Bill Harris's ruling Wednesday eliminated another potential obstacle for TransCanada, which has U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits for the pipeline's southern leg, from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas, The Washington Post said.

In the suit, farm manager Julia Trigg Crawford claimed the Keystone XL pipeline wasn't entitled to eminent domain because the pipeline wouldn't be a common carrier. As a private project, she argued, it had to negotiate rights-of-way and couldn't compel landowners to enter agreements.

In March, U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed the construction, saying it would unclog a supply jam at Cushing, where the domestic market's benchmark price for oil is set.

After Obama's announcement, environmental groups and some landowners began a campaign to halt or delay construction, arguing the threat a leak could contaminate rivers and wetlands.

"Of course we are incredibly disappointed in today's ruling," Crawford said via e-mail to the Post. "Disheartened that Texas landowners must still challenge oil corporations in court on what should be state-level permitting issues ... and disturbed that a foreign corporation like TransCanada is allowed to hide behind the skirt of the Texas Railroad Commission [the regulatory authority in Texas] and its Common Carrier rubber stamp."

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