PARIS - Supporters of landowner Julia Crawford are expected to fill a Lamar County courtroom Friday morning in the latest hearing concerning TransCanada.
Judge Bill Harris will determine whether or not the Canadian company qualifies as a common carrier and has the right to impose eminent domain on her property. Approval would allow construction of a pipeline carrying diluted bitumen, known as tar sands oil, from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Critics have long claimed tar sands is dirtier than most other heavy crudes refined in the U.S. and fear it'll bring more harm to air quality and increase risks for accidents and spills.
Crawford is quoted on the website Stand With Julia:
“One of my first concerns was, to go the path they had planned, they had to horizontally drill under the creek that I have water rights to... I didn’t exactly want this sludge being pumped underneath the creek."
She was among some Texas landowners to testify before lawmakers last month concerning a company’s ability to build on private property and whether there should be clearer legislation outlining eminent domain rules.
The Dallas Morning News reports Crawford’s cause has drawn in neighbors, media, lawmakers, cattle raisers, farm associations, environmentalists and tea party adherents, plus oil and gas lawyers.
Two weeks ago, TransCanada received approval of a third and final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction of the 485-mile Gulf Coast leg, which would run through several Texas counties including Lamar, Delta and Hopkins.
The larger portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil sands from Alberta, remains the center of a political battle as the Obama administration reviews a cross-border permit. Presidential approval is required because the pipeline crosses an international border.
On the company's website July 27, Russ Girling, president and chief executive officer, said:
"TransCanada has an industry-leading safety record and that is something we take great pride in. People expect their energy to be delivered safely and reliably - on this point there can be no compromise. As an industry, we need to have the best and most modern policies, procedures and equipment in place to prevent and respond to incidents."
Friday’s hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Lamar County Courthouse, where hundreds gathered in a demonstration over the pipeline controversy in February.