The legal fight against TransCanada in its quest to build an oil pipeline to the Gulf Coast is also brewing in Beaumont, where some rice farmers have challenged the company’s condemnation efforts.
A judge heard arguments Wednesday and said he will announce his decision September 24. KFDM-TV reports some protesters held signs saying "Stop Eminent Domain" and "Defend Texas Land."
Similar protests have occurred in our region, where a Lamar County judge in August ruled against farmer Julia Trigg Crawford in an eminent domain hearing. Crawford tells KETR that they will "absolutely" appeal the lower court's ruling.
"Our case is helping uncover flaws and loopholes in the Common Carrier rubber stamp process at the Texas Railroad Commission, and we are already seeing change as a result. Just yesterday Governor Perry appointed a new head of the RRC, so hopefully that's a step in the right direction. But there is still much more work to be done," Crawford stated.
Crawford was referring to Milton Rister, who will begin his new job as executive director of the Texas Railroad Commission on Oct. 1. The Commission oversees most permitting for oil and gas drilling in the state.
Crawford's mention of the "Common Carrier rubber stamp" refers to a recent Texas Supreme Court ruling that says a company must prove its pipeline is for the "common" good before taking private property.
Last week, activists for Tar Sands Blockade chained themselves to bulldozers in Hopkins County, temporarily halting route-clearance work along the proposed pipeline route.
TransCanada's plan to build a nearly 1,700-mile pipeline from Alberta in Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast has been blocked by President Barack Obama. The company is redesigning the project. But following recent approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, they've moved forward with portions from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico that does not cross an international boundary.