State Dept holds hearings on controversial TransCanada Keystone pipeline


Connecting the dots: Tar sands oil pipelines part of Trans Texas Corridor concept
Eminent domain threat remains

(Austin, TX - September 28, 2011) Though the Trans Texas Corridor statute was officially repealed on June 17, 2011, the tar sands oil pipelines are part and parcel of the original Trans Texas Corridor concept that lives on. The TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, the subject of a public hearing conducted by the U.S. State Department today in Austin, is just one of two tar sands oil pipeline routes that will affect over 20,000 acres of private property in 6 different states either by eminent domain or by the threat of eminent domain to directly benefit a foreign corporation.

The other identified tar sands pipeline will also connect Texas with Alberta, Canada through the Ports to Plains corridor, formerly one of the Trans Texas Corridors. According to the Great Plains International Trade Corridor Assessment Report done by Cambridge Systematics for the Texas Department of Transportation in 2008, Ports to Plains is “an important economic link between the three countries (United States, Canada, & Mexico)....consequently, NAFTA has elevated the importance of intermodal infrastructure connecting the trading partners” and explains that one of the major emerging oil extraction areas of the world is the Athabasca Tar Sands area of Northeastern Alberta. The report states that oil & gas pipelines are part of this trade corridor and that truck transportation of fuel oils is expected to increase 329% in 2035.

“...Oil exploration and extraction activities could increase truck traffic in the corridor as oil pipelines transporting oil from Canada to points south for refining reach capacity.”

“The people of Texas have been crystal clear on this issue - they DO NOT want ANY form of the Trans Texas Corridor or eminent domain for private gain, nor will they tolerate these foreign companies who masquerade as a common carrier to get eminent domain authority, when in fact, their pipelines are for a private purpose, not a legitimate public use,” emphasizes Terri Hall, Founder/Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom.

On August 26, 2011, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in the Texas Rice Land Partners v Denbury Green Pipeline Case that “transporting gas solely for the benefit of a corporate parent or other affiliate is not a public use of the pipeline.” On page 10 it states: "To qualify as a common carrier with the power of eminent domain, the pipeline must serve the public. As explained above, extending the power of eminent domain to the taking of property for a private use cannot survive constitutional scrutiny.”

TransCanada’s pipeline cannot qualify as a common carrier pipeline under Texas law and therefore ought not threaten landowners with eminent domain.

“If it wants to build this pipeline, it must do so without the use of eminent domain and TransCanada must pay willing landowners a price they’re willing to sell for if they want to come after Texas property,” contends Hall.

TURF also notes that there are legitimate environmental and safety concerns that were not accurately nor adequately studied in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline, and it is the duty of our government to protect the public from the dangers of contamination and exploitation of our water supply, especially on projects of this magnitude. The EIS also failed to sufficiently study the impacts of the projected 329% increase in truck traffic needed to transport the oil nor the strain that places on Texas roadways at a time when highway dollars are scarce. Nor did the EIS sufficiently study the cumulative impacts of multiple tar sands oil pipelines running from Alberta, Canada to Texas.

The public can submit comments through October 9 here.

For more information on the Keystone Pipeline with points made by both Trans Canada as well as its critics, go here.

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