All that stands in the way of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline at this point are a few landowners. While the northern section of the pipeline from Canada to Oklahoma has hit some snags, the southern portion is now officially cleared to go ahead, according to the company.
TransCanada, the company behind the controversial project that would bring heavy oil harvested from sand deposits in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast, announced today that it has received the final of three permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“With the permit from the Fort Worth, Texas Army Corps district added to previously received permits from the Galveston, Texas and the Tulsa, Oklahoma districts, TransCanada is now in a position to start construction of the oil pipeline in the coming weeks,” the company said in a statement. The southern leg of the pipeline got a big boost in March when President Obama called for cutting “through the red tape” and making its construction a priority.
But there are still a few private landowners who haven’t signed agreements with the company. And the Army Corps of Engineers is being sued by the Sierra Club for allegedly issuing a water permit for the pipeline improperly.
Julia Trigg Crawford is one of the landowners on the pipeline’s route who has refused to sign with TransCanada. Her farmland sits on a few hundred acres in northeast Texas along the Red River. TransCanada used eminent domain to condemn part of her land for the pipeline. Now the two are going to court next month.
But TransCanada isn’t sitting idle. Crawford tells StateImpact Texas that she’s seen new survey stakes at her fence-line where the pipeline would begin to cross her land. “They’ve got a pipe coming into the county, they’re surveying, so yeah, they’re getting ready,” Crawford says.
At an interim hearing of the Texas House Committee on Land and Resources earlier this week, Crawford and several others (including representatives from the oil and gas industry) testified about how eminent domain is being used in Texas for private pipelines.
“The testimony that we had that some landowners have 30, 40, 50 pipelines across their property, that’s something we also need to be looking at,” said Representative Rene Oliveira, chairman of the committee. “If you’re going to be a common carrier, you should be out for hire and be able to ship other people’s product as well, especially when we’re talking about natural gas, CO2, and oil.”
The northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would cross the U.S.-Canada border, had its permit rejected by President Obama in January but has re-applied. TransCanada says today that they expect a decision on the northern portion of the pipeline at the beginning of next year.