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Boardman writes: "Michael Bishop was ready for his day in court against TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, which is under construction in East Texas and approaching his homestead. The only trouble was - the court wasn't ready."

Michael Bishop speaks to supporters outside the Nacogdoches County Courthouse, 12/19/12. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade)
Michael Bishop speaks to supporters outside the Nacogdoches County Courthouse, 12/19/12. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

Oil Over People in Texas

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

24 December 12


Keystone XL pipeline goes forward as Texas court dithers.

ichael Bishop was ready for his day in court against TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, which is under construction in East Texas and approaching his homestead. The only trouble was - the court wasn't ready.

Michael Bishop, surrounded by supporters, speaks to the media outside the Nacogdoches County Courthouse, 12/19/12. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

By the time TransCanada's attorneys and Bishop, a former Marine representing himself, showed up at the Nacogdoches County Court on December 19 to argue Bishop's claim that TransCanada's defrauding landowners like himself was enough to halt construction of the pipeline's southern leg, Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz was already having second thoughts about his local court taking on a dispute with such large national, international, and global ramifications.

Judge Sinz had already stopped construction once, having granted Bishop an emergency injunction on December 7. But the judge then rescinded that order on December 13, after TransCanada's attorneys asked for a special hearing at which to present additional information.

Over the weekend, apparently, Judge Sinz began to wonder if his court of limited jurisdiction actually had the authority to rule on the issues of property and land rights involved in blocking TransCanada from using its right-of-way for the pipeline.

WWII veteran Arnold Nass spoke about the contents of the pipeline, and his efforts to reach the governor and other state legislators, 12/19/12. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

At the abbreviated hearing, Sinz invited both sides - TransCanada with its attorneys and Bishop representing himself - to write legal briefs addressing the question of whether the case should be heard by a higher court, and to file those briefs in early January.

File photo. (photo: Houston Chronicle Fuel Fix)File photo. (photo: Houston Chronicle Fuel Fix)

No Court Action to Prevent Irreparable Harm

Although he took no evidence at the hearing, Judge Sinz took no action to prevent irreparable harm to Bishop's property. The judge allowed TransCanada to continue its pipeline construction unimpeded, and Bishop fears that the pipeline will have crossed his 20-acre property before the courts decide whether it's legal or not:

"They dumped gravel on my property today. They've got the pipe. They're fixin' to weld the pipe up. It's about two miles down the road from me, three," Bishop told StateImpact Texas.

A crowd of supporters gathered at the courthouse and demonstrated in support of Bishop, a trained chemist and paramedic now enrolled in medical school. He told the group:

"TransCanada may think they can keep delaying while their construction crews destroy my land, but they won't shake me off so easily. I'll continue fighting to win this case. And I'm suing the Texas Railroad Commission for letting TransCanada lie about what's going through this pipe so they could use eminent domain to steal my land and my neighbors' land."

Bishop is seeking a jury trial on the question of TransCanada defrauding landowners, and one of his supporters held up a sign saying "YOUR LAND HAS THE RIGHT TO A JURY," while another supporter's sign read "TRANSCAN IS AFRAID OF A TEXAS JURY."

The same day Bishop didn't get his day in court, December 19, other Texans were being ignored by most of the members of the Sunset Commission, which was meeting in Austin to consider whether to dissolve the Texas Railroad Commission that regulates oil pipelines and facilitated TransCanada's eminent domain process when landowners weren't quick enough to grant a right-of-way for the pipeline.

Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, east of Winona, 12/03/12. (photo: Sarah A. Miller/AP)

The absent Sunset Commissioners missed hearing citizens criticize the railroad commission for taking money from the industries it regulates, abusing the eminent domain process (especially in relation to TransCanada's tar sands pipeline), and failure to take action against 98 percent of the violators of the laws the commission was supposed to enforce.

Bishop has also filed suit against the railroad commission on some of these same issues, but his case has not yet been scheduled for hearing.

See Also:Part I: William Boardman | Texas Marine vs. Tar Sands Oil

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+40 # Daniel Kasnitz 2012-12-24 10:47
As usual, justice is swerved. "This land ain't your land. This land is their land. From the Texas prairie. To Alberta's tar sands."
+27 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-24 12:08
& let's not forget: 60% of the Tar Sands are controlled by the Koch Bros.
+21 # Helen 2012-12-24 12:27
How is it that a judge doesn't know, from beginning his term in office, what authority he has? Is he still collecting his paycheck?
0 # WBoardman 2012-12-29 13:51
A question like that has been asked before
(somewhat mysteriously) in 2010 --
+24 # grouchy 2012-12-24 12:41
And as usual, GREED RULES!

I am still wondering exactly what is going to come out the end of that pipeline as it gets to the Gulf--and what is going to be done with that suspected crud? Dump it into the gulf to join with the crap already there from the big oil spill of several years back?
+8 # Old Man 2012-12-25 11:18
The way they are laying the pipe in the pictures looks very flimsy. How can it withstand any presser with thick tar-sand?
It's pure Greed. When will Americans Stand-up and say enough is enough?
+7 # Eliza D 2012-12-26 13:15
If you can possibly get to Livingston, Texas on January 3 the STOP people are having a workshop to plan actions to respond to the pipeline's advance. This is really an outrage, one the proves definitively that individuals in the US have few rights when corporations want to destroy their land. And for what? Oil for China.
+1 # Vardoz 2012-12-28 16:59
Oil over the Earth and all living things!!!!

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