Texas judge halts TransCanada oil pipeline work

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm •  Published: December 11, 2012
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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."

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

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

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