TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Temporarily Halted in Texas
By Laurel Brubaker Calkins, Business Week
December 11, 2012
Michael Bishop, who granted TransCanada an easement across his property in Nacogdoches County, obtained a temporary restraining order from Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz on Dec. 7. The order blocks the company from working on Bishop’s property for two weeks while allowing work on other sections of the pipeline to proceed.
Bishop, a 64-year-old chemist who owns a biofuels company, claims the Keystone pipeline is only permitted to carry crude oil that is liquid under normal atmospheric temperatures and pressure. Bitumen is “solid at atmospheric temperature and pressure and must be diluted for transport via pipeline,” he said in his complaint.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service ruled last year that crude oil isn’t the same as tar sands, and that “tar sands oil” isn’t subject to the U.S. excise tax on petroleum, Bishop said in his complaint. He said TransCanada has “intentionally misled and misrepresented” the nature of its product to regulators, landowners and the public in order to obtain permits and eminent domain rights to push its project through.
“It is also a fact that the firm used coercion and intimidating tactics to obtain the property in question and that acting on the validity of their claim, I settled under duress,” Bishop said in an affidavit filed with his request for a restraining order.
Bishop said in a phone interview today that TransCanada didn’t try to negotiate with him before survey crews trespassed on his 20-acre property near Nacogdoches, located about 100 miles northeast (161 kilometers) of Houston, a year ago.
Judge temporarily halts Keystone XL pipeline in Texas
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
December 11, 2012, 11:38 a.m.
The decision came after Michael Bishop, 64, a retired paramedic and chemist in East Texas, filed a lawsuit arguing that TransCanada lied to him and other landowners, promising that the Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil, not tar sands oil.
“What they’re calling tar sands oil is not oil by anyone’s definition,” Bishop told The Times, adding that he’s worried the pipeline’s proposed contents might contaminate his land. “I’m very concerned about a leak. They need to pull the permit, go back and re-register this on the federal level as a hazardous-material pipeline and see if they can get it permitted then.”
Environmentalists have converged on East Texas to protest the pipeline’s construction, arguing that if it leaks or spills, tar sands oil could cause dangerous contamination. Groups such as Tar Sands Blockade have protested at construction sites and highlighted the cases of landowners, including Bishop and Eleanor Fairchild, an East Texas great-grandmother arrested after a protest with actress Daryl Hannah on her property in October.
President Obama encouraged construction of a portion of the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas, but rejected a presidential permit for construction earlier this year, suggesting that the company reroute the pipeline to avoid areas in Nebraska that environmentalists argue should be protected. Howard said the company has proposed a new route for that portion of the pipeline and was awaiting approval from state officials.
Bishop, a libertarian former Marine, initially fought the company’s attempt to condemn his land — 20 acres in the town of Douglass, about 160 miles north of Houston — but eventually settled with the company a month ago because he could not afford the hefty lawyers’ fees of more than $10,000.
He said he contacted environmental groups, but no one would help him bring a lawsuit against the company. So he bought a law book and decided to proceed by himself, filing suit in Austin against the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that oversees pipelines. He argued that it failed to properly investigate the Keystone XL pipeline and protect groundwater, public health and safety.