Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

December 11, 2012

Texas judge halts oil pipeline work

HOUSTON — A Texas judge has ordered TransCanada to temporarily halt work on a private property where it is building part of an oil pipeline designed to carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, the latest legal battle to plague a project that has encountered numerous obstacles nationwide.

Texas landowner Michael Bishop, who is defending himself in his legal battle against the oil giant, filed his lawsuit in the Nacogdoches County courthouse, arguing that TransCanada lied to Texans when it said it would be using the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil.

Tar sands oil — or diluted bitumen — does not meet the definition as outlined in Texas and federal statutory codes which define crude oil as "liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the earth at atmospheric temperatures," Bishop said. When tar sands are extracted in Alberta, Canada, the material is almost a solid and "has to be heated and diluted in order to even be transmitted," he told The Associated Press exclusively.

"They lied to the American people," Bishop said.

Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz signed a temporary restraining order and injunction Friday, saying there was sufficient cause to halt work until a hearing Dec. 19. The two-week injunction went into effect Tuesday after Bishop posted bond.

David Dodson, a spokesman for TransCanada, has said courts have already ruled that tar sands are a form of crude oil. The company said in a statement emailed Tuesday that work on Bishop's property is underway and that the injunction will not have an effect on construction.

"We are on track to bring this pipeline into operation in late 2013," the statement said.

Environmentalists are concerned that if the pipeline leaks or a spill occurs, the heavy tar sands will contaminate water and land. The tar sands, they argue, are more difficult to clean than regular crude, and U.S. pipeline regulations are not suited to transport the product. They also say refining the product will further pollute the air in the Texas Gulf Coast. The state already leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution.

In February, another judge briefly halted work on the pipeline in northeast Texas due to archaeological artifacts on the property. The judge later ruled the work could resume. The pipeline is being built, although the landowner is fighting the condemnation of her land.

TransCanada wants to build a pipeline to transport tar sands from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, but has encountered roadblocks along the way. To cross the U.S.-Canadian border, the company needs a presidential permit, which was rejected earlier this year by President Barack Obama, who suggested the company reroute to avoid a sensitive environmental area in Nebraska. The company plans to reroute that portion.

In the meantime, Obama encouraged the company to pursue a shorter portion of the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas, which would help relieve a bottleneck in Cushing. TransCanada received the necessary permits for that southern portion earlier this year and began construction.

But many Texas landowners have taken to the courts to fight the company's land condemnations in a state that has long wed its fortunes to oil.

Bishop owns 20 acres in Douglass, a town about 160 miles north of Houston. He used to raise poultry and goats on the land where he lives with his wife and 16-year-old daughter, he said, but sold the animals about two years ago because of the planned pipeline. Initially, the Vietnam War veteran said, he fought the company's attempt to condemn his land, but settled because he could not afford the lawyer's fees of $10,000.

Bishop said he settled under "duress," so he bought a law book and decided to defend himself. Since then, he has filed a lawsuit in Austin against the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that oversees pipelines, arguing it failed to properly investigate the pipeline and protect groundwater, public health and safety.

Aware that the oil giant could have a battery of lawyers and experts at the hearing later this month, Bishop, a 64-year-old retired chemist currently in medical school, said he is determined to fight.

"Bring 'em on. I'm a United States Marine. I'm not afraid of anyone. I'm not afraid of them," he said. "When I'm done with them, they will know that they've been in a fight. I may not win, but I'm going to hurt them."

___

Associated Press writer Josh Funk contributed to this report from Omaha, Neb.

__

Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP

 

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • UWNC main Helping our fellow man

    A beautiful day, delicious food and the very entertaining Mike Doocy of Fox 4 Sports combined to provide United Way volunteers with a lot of appreciation for their hard work in the 2014 campaign.

    April 16, 2014 4 Photos

  • YMCA warns against woman fraudulently soliciting funds

    A woman has been soliciting funds, falsely portraying herself as representing the YMCA, Executive Director Terry Seth reported late Wednesday afternoon. A business owner in town informed Seth a lady solicited his business, saying she was raising money for the YMCA for a program for deaf children. Seth says the YMCA does not have such a program.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wine and walking

    About a dozen local businesses are opening their doors for the Derrick Days Wine and Cheese stroll this year, and many are only doing it as an open house opportunity.

    The stroll is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. April 24 in downtown Corsicana. It's free and open to the public.

    April 16, 2014

  • 4-16-14 WestCenter.jpg Remembering West: Ceremony to mark first anniversary

    In April 2013, the city of West was forever changed after an explosion at a fertilizer plant killed 15 people and altered the landscape of the tiny Texas town. A year after that deadly blast, the city will stop to remember that fateful day and pay tribute to those who were lost, including Navarro County firefighter Perry Calvin, one of the first responders killed by the blast.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Navarro College seeks public input at Town Hall event

    Community perception of the role Navarro College plays, and how it can better serve Corsicana and Navarro County is the goal of a Town Hall meeting called at the college for Monday, April 21. The town hall presentation will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Dr. Richard M. Sanchez Library on the Corsicana campus.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-16-14 DowntownHop.jpg Annual 'Hop Downtown' Easter party Thursday

    The Easter Bunny will once again be making its annual pre-Easter stop in Corsicana Thursday for an appearance at the Downtown Corsicana “Hop Downtown” party. The event is taking place from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with activities up and down Beaton Street in downtown Corsicana.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-16-14 Derrick Days meeting.jpg Countdown to Derrick Days

    A small town hosting a big event like Derrick Days takes a lot of volunteers, coordination and details — lots and lots of details. That's what Tuesday's meeting of the Derrick Days Committee consisted of, nailing down the last-minute wrinkles to make sure things run smoothly next week.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police advise caution with roof repair

    After the hail storm Monday, the Corsicana Police Department began receiving several calls from citizens reporting roofing contractors going door to door soliciting to inspect and repair roofs from possible hail damage.

    April 15, 2014

  • Moment of silence marks Boston Marathon bombings

    Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed came together Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing with solemn ceremonies.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-15-14 TaxDay.jpg Ready for the IRS?

    The calendar shows April 15, and you haven't even started on your federal tax return? Chances are, you don't need to fret. If you're due a refund — and about three-fourths of filers get refunds — April 15 isn't much of a deadline at all.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo