TransCanada has filed more than a dozen lawsuits to condemn land along the route of its Keystone XL oil pipeline in western South Dakota, trying to force the 47 percent of the landowners who hadn’t signed easement agreements along the states portion of the Keystone XL route, even though it hasn’t received the federal permit it needs to go ahead with the project.
The lawsuits come at a time of growing opposition to the 1,660-mile pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands fields in Alberta, Canada, and pass through several states, including South Dakota, on its way to terminals on the Gulf Coast. Environmentalists have joined landowners to lobby against the project all the way down the route, from Montana to Texas.
Because the project would cross an international border, TransCanada also needs a presidential permit from the State Department. The decision, which hinges on the results of an amended environmental impact statement, will be forthcoming within weeks and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is inclined to grant it.
Landowners in Texas along the pipeline who haven’t been happy with their dealings with Keystone XL have already received letters threatening eminent domain action and Senators Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) and Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) recently filed a bill (SB 18) that appears to be favorable to pipeline projects in their use of eminent domain and is moving through the legislature quickly. Citizens in the Barnett Shale region have already begun to express concerns about how this might affect their property rights. Those along the Keystone XL pipeline route, might want to keep an eye on this bill too.
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