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Appeals court overturns decision on Keystone XL pipeline

By Kenny Mitchell
March 5, 2012 at 4:15 a.m.

In an almost instant reversal of fortunes for those involved in the dispute over landowner's rights and TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the State of Texas 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texarkana reversed the decision of a Lamar County judge from last week and awarded Julia Trigg Crawford a temporary restraining order keeping TransCanada off of her Lamar County ranch.

The order, signed by the Appellate court on Friday, March 2, says, "Now, therefore, it is ordered that TransCanada Keystone Pipeline,L.P., is restrained from entering the Crawford Family Farm Partnership land and performing any and all on-site activities that disturb the surface or subsurface of the land, pending this Court's determination of the petition for writ of mandamus or further order from this court."

Keystone has five days to respond to the decision.

The Writ of Mandamus filed in the court basically seeks relief from the Court of Appeals to enter the restraining order that the Lamar County Judge had entered but dissolved on Friday, February 24.

One of Crawford's legal team, Texarkana attorney Mark Lesher, said about the case, "There is a problem because of the Texas Antiquities Code. That code says that the State of Texas owns the artifacts, and there has not been a study saying what is actually there, but it has been shown that they are. We are saying until these artifacts are documented and preserved that the pipeline should not disturb them."

Lesher also stated, "We are basically saying that the pipeline applied for and illegally obtained eminent domain and that the injunction should be issued until the artifacts are documented. There were shovel tests done by an expert that showed there are artifacts where the pipeline is proposed to come through."

Crawford herself was elated by the decision and said on Sunday, "We are very pleased that the appellate court reinstated the TRO because that means TransCanada can't come in and start construction. Our attorneys worked non-stop after the initial ruling last week to get the appeal done and what they crafted was a masterful document. It took the appeals court just a couple of hours to make their ruling .This brings the eminent domain and common carrier issues into the discussion and we are very pleased about that."

A hearing on the eminent domain and common carrier aspects of the case is scheduled for April.

Pipeline opponents feel the ruling should have an impact on TransCanada's announcement on Monday to go ahead with construction of the southern extension of the 1,700 mile pipeline. The company calls the construction a standalone project going from the refineries in Port Arthur, Tx. to the existing oil storage facilities in Cushing,OK., that does not require federal permits because it does not cross an international border.



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