We’ve reported before about the Keystone XL blockade activists, but the East Texans who own the land on which the pipeline is being constructed have been some of the project’s most vocal, if less-often-pepper-sprayed, detractors. And today they actually kind of won for a change.
A Texas judge has ordered TransCanada to halt work for two weeks on the pipeline, following a lawsuit from landowner Michael Bishop claiming that TransCanada lied about transporting crude oil when it’s really hauling tar-sands oil.
TransCanada’s all, “Oil is oil, what’s the big deal?” But the judge didn’t see it that way. From the Associated Press:
Tar sands oil — or diluted bitumen — does not meet the definition as outlined in Texas and federal statutory codes which define crude oil as “liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the earth at atmospheric temperatures,” Bishop said. When tar sands are extracted in Alberta, Canada, the material is almost a solid and “has to be heated and diluted in order to even be transmitted,” he told The Associated Press exclusively.
“They lied to the American people,” Bishop said.
Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz signed a temporary restraining order and injunction Friday, saying there was sufficient cause to halt work until a hearing Dec. 19. The two-week injunction went into effect Tuesday after Michael Bishop, the landowner, posted bond.
David Dodson, a spokesman for TransCanada, said courts have already ruled that tar sands are a form of crude oil. He said the injunction will not delay the project.
Bishop filed suit against the Texas Railroad Commission last week, claiming the agency hadn’t protected the public’s environmental interest when it approved TransCanada’s permits for construction. Many previous attempts by landowners to legally challenge TransCanada’s eminent domain claim to their property have all failed.
Aware that the oil giant will have a battery of lawyers and experts at the hearing later this month, Bishop, a 64-year-old retired chemist currently in medical school, said he is determined to fight.
“Bring ‘em on. I’m a United States Marine. I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m not afraid of them,” he said. “When I’m done with them, they will know that they’ve been in a fight. I may not win, but I’m going to hurt them.”