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Restraining orders issued on Keystone protesters

By Peggy Jones
Oct. 15, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Two state district court judges have issued temporary restraining orders against Keystone XL Pipeline protesters in Wood and Franklin counties.

The court orders prohibit protesters from interfering with, preventing or obstructing construction of the pipeline being built across private property in the two counties en route to the Gulf Coast.

The Wood County restraining order was issued last week in 402nd District Court, about the same time a New York Times reporter and photographer were detained near Winnsboro by off-duty police officers hired by a TransCanada contractor.

The pair, reporter Dan Frosch and photographer Brandon Thibodeaux, were released after identifying themselves as members of the press.

The orders and and escalating arrests of protestors highlight increasing efforts by TransCanada to move forward construction that has been stalled for several weeks in some areas. Security measures have been increased, said TransCanada spokesman Dan Dodson, with patrols of pipeline easements day and night.

Construction has been hampered by protesters who chained themselves to equipment in Franklin County and others in Wood County who have created a maze of tree houses. That protest has been spearheaded by the pipeline opposition group TarSands Blockade.

Celebrity protester Darryl Hannah and landowner Eleanor Fairchild were arrested Oct. 4 in Wood County after standing in front of heavy equipment working to clear an easement across Fairchild's land.

The restraining orders name environmental organizations and individuals TransCanada attorneys hold responsible for the delays, including TarSands spokesman Ron Seifert, Fairchild, the TarSands Blockade Group, Rising Tide North America and Rising Tide North Texas, along with numerous individuals.

Hannah - who was jailed on charges of criminal trespass and resisting arrest after holding up construction equipment working on the TransCanada easement - was not named in the temporary restraining order.

"She's not a local," Dodson said. "Her chance of returning to the scene and doing it again is not such that filing a T.R.O. against her would not be useful."

The court set an Oct. 22 hearing in Wood County to determine whether the temporary restraining order should become a permanent injunction.

Dodson said a similar hearing was set for early November in Franklin County.



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