By The Associated Press - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 0 Comments
HOUSTON – A Texas judge has ordered TransCanada to temporarily halt work on a…
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 (TSX:TRP) 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.
TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said later in a statement that the judge had agreed to push the hearing up to Thursday, Dec. 13.
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 the 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.”
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
The proposed U.S. route for oil sands crude is facing intense scrutiny
Stephen Harper has urged Barack Obama to approve it. Alberta’s energy minister demanded that the President “sign the bloody order,” already. But the soft-spoken diplomat leading the American government’s review of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Daniel Clune, is keeping his cards close to his chest. The approval of the US$7-billion, 2,700-km pipeline that would bring oil sands crude from Canada, through the U.S. heartland down to the Gulf Coast, has become one of the biggest issues between Canada and the U.S., a hot environmental cause south of the border—and a tug of war between two departments of the Obama administration.
To the pipeline’s backers, the approval process is dragging on longer than any before it—but for critics who oppose building infrastructure to tie the U.S. to even more carbon fuels, and oil sands in particular, it’s whipping by too fast. The State Department has said it will made a decision by the end of the year, and its every move is being scrutinized on both sides for evidence that oil interests have captured the Obama administration—or that federal bureaucrats are about to sabotage the national interest by scuttling a golden opportunity to create jobs and help wean America off Middle Eastern oil.
Congress is watching closely. House Republicans, who tout the pipeline as a “no-brainer,” have introduced legislation to try to fast-track a decision by Nov. 1. Meanwhile, in the Senate, a Republican and a Democrat, both from Nebraska, have expressed concern about the safety of the pipeline, which would traverse their state’s important agricultural aquifer. Several recent leaks in the existing Keystone pipeline that runs from Alberta to the Midwest have heightened those worries.
By Colby Cosh - Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 12:38 AM - 145 Comments
Sarah Palin failed to tackle an esoteric problem tonight: how does a natural motormouth keep herself in check in front of a friendly audience? It’s an accepted part of a politician’s work to say what she has already said in other venues a million times. About the only way in which tonight’s Calgary speech varied from Palin’s standard post-gubernatorial drama of media persecution and conservative values was that every time she said the equivalent of “We built a pipeline”, it became “We built a pipeline with our super terrific Canadian partner TCPL, which just goes ta show ya.”
The problem was that Palin clued into the audience’s unconditional agreement with her worldview pretty quickly, and grew impatient; as fast as she was speeding through the statistics and the chuck-on-the-shoulder good-for-yous for Canada, many of us probably would have preferred it ten times faster. To me, the audience in the foyer after the speech seemed to be talking themselves into having had a good time.
It occurs to me that the Calgary mayoralty is up for grabs; maybe someone should see if Palin’s interested? In no other Canadian city of equal size would her denunciation of “snake-oil” climate science have been greeted with such unrestrained, joyous roars by a very elite, very wealthy audience. (The Palomino Room was saturated with old Reformers, including Stockwell Day. At the end of the festivities, Ralph Klein, perhaps eager for refreshment, came blasting down the aisle in my direction at the approximate speed of a maglev train.) I’m not sure there is even an American city where Palin’s climate skepticism and drill-or-be-damned pro-fossil stance would have been so well-received. Certainly there can’t be one where an appearance by Palin would be beset by a grand total of one (1) poor sad-sack anarchist protester. I know in Edmonton there’d be 20. (It’s the same 20 every time no matter what’s being protested.)
At the end of the night, as the attendees were filing out, some elderly contessa saw me typing furiously, leaned over, and said “Be kind to her.” It seems Palin, who will doubtless retain a strong streak of the exuberant bubbleheaded teenager to the end of her days, is as good as appealing to motherly and grandmotherly instincts as she is to male ones. I considered for a moment that it might not be for me to say that Palin was not a success, since I didn’t pay $150 for my seat. On the other hand, for those who did shell out, it was a sunk cost; the poor bastards on professional duty, like me, were the ones who weren’t allowed to leave. Sorry, but it’s hard to like someone who makes you suffer like that.
By Colby Cosh - Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 8:08 PM - 167 Comments
6:02 pm (all times Mountain!): I’m in the sumptuous Palomino Room at Calgary’s BMO Centre, waiting with an audience of about one thousand to witness Sarah Palin’s first live address outside the United States, depending on which media personage in the back row you ask. Calgary is an obvious choice for a test-run of Palin’s ability to win over a foreign audience; her game-slaying soccer-mom persona does resonate here. We’re so close to Alaska, geographically and spiritually, that Palin almost seems like a caricature. For better and worse. She’s familiar… but it must be said that nobody likes having a distorted effigy of themselves waved at them either.
6:16 pm: Calgary Herald editor Lorne Motley introduces… Cliff Fryers, Preston Manning’s former chief of staff, who is here to introduce the lady herself. Fryers suggests that Palin is on a path parallel to that followed by Reform–outsiders who challenged the status quo and were as “mainstream as apple pie” ten years later.
6:19 pm: “Alaska and Alberta!” Palin’s daughter Piper interrupts the first sentences of her speech, as if on cue, and gets a blazing round of applause. Palin talks about constantly having her accent described as “Canadian”. “You did an amazing job” with the Olympics; Canada’s filled with “tough and talented hockey players.” The pandering works.
6:22 pm: Girlish excitement about meeting Shaun White backstage at the Tonight Show. I didn’t know she’d cast her lot with Leno. Bad move! You’ll lose the youth demographic!
6:26 pm: She’s laying it on a little thick with the pandering and cute gags. Of course she can get away with it, but it occurs to me that I’m not exactly sure what the substantive portion of this speech is supposed to involve. Was there going to be a substantive portion?
6:30 pm: Finally some nuts and bolts. She talks about bringing TransCanada Pipelines in on the Alaska Gas Line project… as part of her goal of helping establish “energy independence” for the United States. She’s kind of bopping back and forth between hitting the independence note and emphasizing what a great business partner and ally Canada is. Which, technically, seems like inTERdependence.
6:33 pm: “I think there’s a little bit of vindication going on for those of us who called for sound science on climate change.” This being Calgary, the applause is enormous. “The all-of-the-above energy policy… is still the one that Americans support, and people are coming back around to our ideas. Our votes didn’t carry the day, and knew that we didn’t get our message across, and it was a tough battle, it really was, but our ideas, people are seemingly more interested today than they were then, and that’s what the Tea Party movement is kind of about…” If I were fast enough to transcribe this with perfect accuracy there would be THOUSANDS of words between the periods.
6:37 pm: “Some leaders in Washington, D.C. aren’t listening to the people.” Some leaders? You got any names for us?
6:39 pm: Fairly extended attack on the Copenhagen climate conference and the IPCC. “We deserve sound science, not data designed to serve political ends.” She rehearses all the recent embarrassments for the Panel for the bedrock-conservative audience.
6:41 pm: Strongest line of the night–most heartfelt–is her description of debt as “immoral”. Her clickety-clack pace of statistics and factoids is held up for a moment as she speaks slowly about the intergenerational unfairness of public insolvency. Soon, however, she returns to her exhausting regular rhythm. It’s a struggle to maintain attention.
6:45 pm: “The hard work of friendship has created an unbreakable bond between Canada and the United States.” Quotes JFK. “I think he would be pleased to see that the bond of friendship does endure. I ask that we continue that, that we preserve it and continue it into the next generation.” Q&A, the fun part, is about to start.
6:48 pm: Here’s Sen. Wallin. With her help. Palin dispenses deftly with the “writing on the hand” thing and the “I can see Russia from my backyard” thing. First things first, I suppose. The former has Biblical warrant (book of Isaiah, people!) and the latter was, or so Palin says, just a Tina Fey quote that got hung on the real candidate. “And she made a lotta money sayin’ it, too,” gripes the Gov.
6:53 pm: More love letter to TCPL. Maybe this should have been held in their boardroom? I really, really want a cigarette. Sen. Wallin is NOT going to be asking the fastball questions this evening.
6:55 pm: Palin says she wanted to go back to being Governor and soccer mom after the campaign but she encountered a “new normal” with a newly hostile press corps. She boasts of finishing her grand ethics reform and goes over familiar ground about how she is “fighting for Alaska in a different way”.
7:07 pm: As you might expect, there are quite a lot of women in the crowd tonight who look vaguely LIKE Sarah Palin. Tall hair with expensive highlights, 20%-more-chic-than-Mrs.-Thatcher jackets, pearls, naughty-librarian wire-frame glasses.
7:08 pm: Wallin getting a little combative, actually inducing a few angry murmurs from the crowd. Pressing Palin a little bit on her “narrow” originalist view of US government, asking her why we should trust her when her paradoxical message is “don’t trust politicians”. Palin says she’s “concentrated on the basics” in every level of government.
7:11 pm: Wallin asks a confused question about Alaska state-government energy rebates; the Q&A suddenly becomes an A for some time as Palin riffs on her battle against corruption and her belief that the citizen is the best judge of his own welfare and the most efficient user of his own earnings. Then she roasts the media for a while. The media responds with, among other things, cranky, impatient liveblogs.
7:21 pm: Q&A ends; Palin vanishes instantly. I’ll cut this off so I can go mingle before the place empties. Will fill in with a proper summation and some actual thoughts a little later. Depending on whether any of my Calgary friends want to go to the bar.