Pipeline developer TransCanada has obtained a permanent injunction against three environmental groups and dozens of activists involved in recent protests against its Gulf Coast project, a 485-mile pipeline between Cushing and the Gulf Coast.
Tar Sands Blockade, Rising Tide North America, Rising Tide Texas and 20 others agreed Friday not to trespass on TransCanada property in Oklahoma and Texas in order to avoid facing a lawsuit seeking $5 million in damages for disrupting the pipeline project.
“The permanent injunction that these protesters have now agreed to relates to TransCanada, Keystone, our affiliates and contractors. It covers existing operations, offices, construction sites, storage yards, right-of-way/easements and equipment in Texas and Oklahoma,” the company told The Oklahoman. “They cannot interfere with the use and enjoyment of our property, equipment, construction materials and facilities or prevent access to and from our properties and equipment.”
The activists who oppose the $2.3 billion pipeline contend the lawsuit was a strategic move by TransCanada to disrupt their protests, noting the Canadian company had claimed the protests had not impeded construction in any way.
Tar Sands Blockade spokesman Ramsey Sprague said the protests will continue, despite the settlement.
“TransCanada is dead wrong if they think a civil lawsuit against a handful of Texans is going to stop a grassroots civil disobedience movement. This is nothing more than another example of TransCanada repressing dissent and bullying Texans who are defending their homes and futures from toxic tar sands.”
Texas grandmother Tammie Carson, one of the defendants in the case, said she got involved on principle, but financial concerns led her to accept the settlement.
“I took action for my grandkids’ future. I couldn’t sit idly by and watch as a multinational corporate bully abused eminent domain to build a dirty and dangerous tar sands pipeline right through Texans’ backyards,” Carson said. “I had no choice but to settle or lose my home and everything I’ve worked for my entire life.”
TransCanada said Monday the Gulf Coast project is about 40 percent complete, with plans to get it into commercial operation by late this year.