Eminent Domain: Coming to your town soon?

The Texas Supreme Court, the state’s highest civil court, will hear a controversial case over whether a company that plans to build pipeline to carry carbon dioxide and natural gas from Louisiana to site south of Houston qualifies as a “common carrier,”  giving it the power of eminent domain. That means if they want to come through your property and you don’t want to sign the offer they make on your property, they can begin condemnation procedures to just take your property for what they think it is worthAnd that just ain’t right.

The case is scheduled for oral arguments before the Texas Supreme Court on April 19th.  At issue is whether the  Jefferson County trial court ruled incorrectly when it said Denbury was a common carrier (meaning besides the company’s private, for-profit use, the line would be available for public use as well) and therefore could force private landowners to sell right-of-way so the 320-mile stretch of pipe could be built.

The appeals court upheld the trial court.

The industry is watching the case closely, and so should you, as lawmakers this session are considering emergency legislation that would strengthen the position of private property owners in eminent domain cases.  If the Supreme Court rules in the company’s favor and the legislation is passed, we could see a whole network of new pipelines snaking across areas of northeast and east Texas as natural gas companies expand their fracking projects and with a Canadian company pushing the tar sands pipeline from Western and Central Canada, down through the middle of the country on its way to crude refineries in the Houston area.  And they’ll be singing:

So Lord help the sister, who comes between me and my pipeline terminus.

To see the court documents filed in the case, click here.


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