Landowner gains review against pipeline in Texas Supreme Court

A huge transnational company has to justify its attempted use of eminent domain to a small farmer in Texas, so says the Texas Supreme Court. Somebody should make Sabal Trail and Spectra Energy try to justify their attempted use of eminent domain in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

Julia Trigg Crawford wrote 8 January 2014 for Tar Sands Blockade, Texas Supreme Court Favors Landowner Over TransCanada in Eminent Domain Case,

The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of landowner Julia Trigg Crawford, ordering TransCanada to submit information by Feb. 6 as the justices weigh arguments to hear the case regarding eminent domain abuse.

Texas’s highest court delivered a clear victory for pipeline opponents and landowners fighting TransCanada’s overreach on property rights. At the heart of Crawford’s case is the ability of TransCanada, a foreign corporation, to use eminent domain under the state’s “common carrier” clause since their pipeline transports 90% Canadian tar sands and 10% North Dakota oil. There is no on ramp for Texas oil therefore violating the definition of a common carrier under Texas law.

Crawford said she looks forward to her family’s day in court, “As a landowner, property rights are key to my livelihood and family legacy. A foreign corporation pumping foreign oil simply does not qualify as a common carrier under Texas law. TransCanada does not get to write their own rules. I look forward to the Supreme Court hearing our case and our plea to protect the fundamental rights of property owners.”

Here’s the Court’s letter in PDF on the Court’s website. It’s Case Number 13-0886, THE CRAWFORD FAMILY FARM PARTNERSHIP v. TRANSCANADA KEYSTONE PIPELINE, L.P.

That’s an oil pipeline, but the issues are the same for the Sabal Trail fracked “natural” gas methane pipeline. Private profit for companies in Houston, Texas and Juno Beach, Florida shouldn’t take local landowners’ property in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

“We’re thrilled, because the Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of us — the little guys — and against a foreign oil giant,” Julia Trigg Crawford continued. “Basically, TransCanada said that it wanted a waiver from responding to our petition, and the Supreme Court said, “No, you must respond.”

Crawford says her case has broad implications, because if she wins, TransCanada and other foreign oil companies will no longer be able to use eminent domain to seize land for their private profit without direct proof their pipeline is carrying Texan oil.

As Julie Dermansky wrote 15 October 2013 for desmogblog, Interview: Texan Julia Trigg Crawford’s Valiant Effort to Stop TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline,

Once she jumped into the ring, she found she was fighting not just for herself, but for all American property owners and the planet too.

Julia Trigg Crawford explains eminent domain in this video by Julie Dermansky:

This is a project built to make money for an entity as they export a product to another country…. So we don’t believe it is the proper user of eminent domain.

FERC should stop letting Sabal Trail and Spectra Energy not respond. FERC should deny a permit for the Sabal Trail pipeline. Meanwhile, the Texas Supreme Court says local landowners can sue to make pipeline companies try to justify their eminent domain land grabs.


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