Canadian oil begins flowing through Texas; Landowners continue legal fight

By Marilyn Tennissen | Jan 28, 2014

Cold weather isn’t the only thing making its way from Canada to Southeast Texas as oil began flowing through southern portion of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.

On Jan. 22, TransCanada started delivering oil from Cushing, Okla., through the Texas portion of the pipeline to customers in Nederland in Jefferson County. A smaller pipeline will be constructed to carry the oil from Nederland to refineries in Houston later this year.

The longer Keystone XL, which would transport heavy tar sands crude from Canada and oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale, requires a permit from President Barack Obama because it crosses an international border. That $5.4 billion segment has not yet been approved.

Opponents and landowners argue that tar sands oil is heavier and dirtier than other forms of crude, and that any spill would be harder to clean up and that the refining process will be dirtier.

One Texas family has been fighting the construction of the pipeline across its farmland for several years.

Julia Trigg Crawford and the Crawford family argue that TransCanada did not have the right to take their land through eminent domain.

The Crawfords’ case is currently at the Texas Supreme Court.

The family first sought an injunction in Lamar County court. Not only was the injunction denied, but also the Crawford family’s attorney John Pieratt was sanctioned in relation to discovery motions to compel. Substituted Wendi Hammond as counsel on June 12, 2012.

On Aug. 27, 2012, the trial court issued an order denying the Crawford’s plea to the jurisdiction and a final judgment granting TransCanada its pipeline easement by condemning the Crawford family’s land.

The Crawfords sought a new trial, but that was denied. They filed an appeal with the Sixth Judicial District in Texarkana on Dec. 3, 2012.

The Crawfords contended the trial court erred in denying its motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction, erred in granting TransCanada’s motion for summary judgment and erred by denying their fourth motion for a continuance.

The appellate court upheld the trial court, and the Crawfords’ motion for rehearing was overruled on Sept. 17, 2013. The case was sent to the Texas Supreme Court on Nov. 4, 2013.

TransCanada has until Feb. 6 to respond to the petition for review.

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