TransCanada Corp. must temporarily stop work on part of its Keystone XL pipeline while a Texas judge evaluates a landowner’s challenge that the line was permitted to carry only crude oil, not bitumen obtained from Canadian tar sands.
Michael Bishop, who granted TransCanada an easement across his property in Nacogdoches County, obtained a temporary restraining order from Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz on Dec. 7. The order blocks the company from working on Bishop’s land for two weeks while allowing work on other sections of the pipeline to proceed.
“He’s saying we can’t transport anything but crude oil, which is what we’re primarily going to carry,” Tom Zabel, TransCanada’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We’re trying to get a hearing on Thursday to dissolve the order.”
Zabel said he wasn’t sure whether pipeline crews were presently working on Bishop’s property near the town of Nacogdoches, about 100 miles northeast of Houston.
Sinz granted Bishop’s temporary restraining order without notifying TransCanada, saying Bishop “has been defrauded and denied his constitutional rights,” according to the order.
Calgary-based TransCanada has been battling landowners and environmental groups at multiple sites along the southernmost leg of its 2,151-mile pipeline between western Canada and the U.S. refining industry complex on the Texas Gulf coast.
So far, none of the legal challenges has permanently halted construction work on the pipeline, which will carry liquefied bitumen obtained by heating tar sands, along with traditional crude oil produced from fields in North Dakota, Oklahoma and western Texas, Zabel said.
Bishop has also filed a separate lawsuit in state court in Austin against Texas pipeline regulators. In that action, he is challenging Keystone’s certification as a common carrier under state law. Bishop, who is representing himself without an attorney, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
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