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ETX judge lifts restraining order against TransCanada

ETX judge lifts restraining order against TransCanada
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Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 2:59pm

TransCanada achieved a small victory in a Nacogdoches County courtroom Thursday morning.

Nacogdoches County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz vacated a temporary restraining order against TransCanada. The TRO was put into place after a landowner filed suit against the company, claiming they had defrauded him by stating all of their permits were in order and that TransCanada, a private, foreign corporation, had the right to eminent domain as a common carrier.

TransCanada can immediately resume work constructing their pipeline on the complaintant's land.

A December 19 injunction hearing requested by poth parties has been scheduled.

According to Judge Sanz, he ruled in favor of TransCanada because they had reached a previous agreement and money had been exchanged.

TransCanada released the following statement to KETK:

We are very pleased with Judge Sinz’s dismissal on this temporary restraining order. TransCanada has been open, honest and transparent with Mr. Bishop at all times. We recognize that not everyone will support the construction of a pipeline or other facilities, but we work hard to reach voluntary agreements and maintain good relationships with landowners. If we didn’t have a good relationship with more than 60,000 landowners across our energy infrastructure network, we wouldn’t be in business.

Following a mediation process where he was represented by an attorney, Mr. Bishop entered into an easement agreement with TransCanada so he had no basis for his latest actions. He was fully informed about what was in the agreement, and in exchange he received a significant compensation payment (including paying his legal bills up to that point) that he cashed the very next day. Judge Sinz acknowledged that Mr. Bishop knew what he was doing when he entered into the agreement with TransCanada. TransCanada has followed all of the laws established by the State of Texas and has the legal authority to construct the Gulf Coast Pipeline, and none of Mr. Bishop’s claims are supported by credible facts.

Since Mr. Bishop signed his agreement with TransCanada, nothing about the pipeline or the product it will carry has changed. While professional activists and others have made the same claims Mr. Bishop did today, oil is oil. This legal action has had no impact on construction activities for the Gulf Coast Project and the 4,000 workers that TransCanada has employed remain focus on safely building and bringing this pipeline into operation in late 2013.

A hearing has been set for December 19 to discuss the claims being made by Mr. Bishop. The court will also hear a counterclaim from TransCanada, seeking to prevent Mr. Bishop from interfering with our ability to exercise our easement rights.

The Tar Sands Blockade released the following statement to KETK:

In a blow to landowner’s rights, Texas communities’ waterways and the climate, a county judge in Texas this morning ruled to allow construction of the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to continue on a landowner’s property until a hearing on December 19. Nacogdoches County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz this morning reversed the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) he granted to landowner Michael Bishop from Douglass, TX earlier this week by dissolving the TRO at the behest of TransCanada.

Representing himself pro se, Bishop contends that TransCanada defrauded him and other local landowners in the path of the pipeline about the contents of Keystone XL before threatening to employ eminent domain and other intimidation tactics to seize their land. Bishop will seek an injunction on construction at the December 19 hearing.

Unlike conventional crude oil, tar sands is a heavy, corrosive substance that must be diluted with toxic cancer-causing chemicals and pressurized before being transported through pipelines like Keystone XL. Tar sands extraction alone produces three to five times more carbon pollution than conventional oil.

Mr. Bishop and grassroots community groups had the following statements in response to Judge Sinz’s ruling:

Michael Bishop, a retired chemist, Marine Corps veteran and landowner whose land would be crossed by Keystone XL, said:
“TransCanada executives may be smirking over Judge Sinz’s ruling today, but they’ve got another thing coming if they think I’ll just roll over for its dirty pipeline. I didn’t pick this fight, but I refuse to sit idly by while a multinational corporation tramples my rights and that of other landowners all along Keystone XL’s path in the name of deepening its profits.”

Vicki Baggett, a member of Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P. (Stop Tar sands Oil Permanently), said:

“Today’s court ruling is a strike against our rights to clean water and a safe, healthy future but we remain undeterred. Tar sands isn’t your grandfather’s oil. It’s toxic and dangerous. I refuse to allow my community to become a sacrifice zone for the dirtiest fuel on Earth.”

Ron Seifert, a spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade, said:

“From the streets to the courts, we will not rest until Keystone XL is stopped for good. Michael Bishop’s case is a textbook example of TransCanada bullying and bankrupting any landowner or community member brave enough to say ‘no’ to this monstrous project. We’ll continue to stand with landowners like Mr. Bishop in this David versus Goliath fight to defend our homes and climate from toxic tar sands.”

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