This afternoon, Nacogdoches County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz delayed making a decision in Michael Bishop’s case against TransCanada. Citing jurisdictional questions as to whether his court is capable of ruling on issues of property and land rights, Sinz suggested that both parties file briefs to move the case to a higher court.
Bishop came to court ready with arguments to defend his land and constitutional rights. Representing himself pro se, Bishop contends that TransCanada defrauded him and other local landowners in the path of the pipeline on the contents of Keystone XL before threatening to employ eminent domain and other intimidation tactics to seize their land. Last week Mr. Bishop’s Temporary Restraining Order against TransCanada was dissolved by this same court. Dozens of community members and supporters rallied to support him.
Unlike conventional crude oil, tar sands is a heavy, corrosive substance that must be diluted with toxic chemicals and pressurized before being transported through pipelines like Keystone XL. Exposure to tar sands near mining sites in Alberta has been shown to cause cancer and birth defects.
Mr. Bishop and grassroots community groups had the following statements in response to Judge Sinz’s ruling:
Michael Bishop, a retired chemist, Marine Corps veteran and landowner whose land would be crossed by Keystone XL, said:
“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.”
Vicki Baggett, a member of Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P. (Stop Tar sands Oil Permanently), said:
“What we’ve got here is a multi-national corporation seizing Texans’ land for its own profits. We’re not giving up – we can’t give up; the poisons that would come through this pipe threaten the health and safety of everyone in this community.”
Ron Seifert, a spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade, said:
“Whether it means blockading at the point of construction or in the courtroom, we will not rest until the Keystone XL pipeline is stopped for good. TransCanada has a long track record of bullying and bankrupting any landowner brave enough to stand up and refuse to allow poisons to be pumped through their backyard. We’ll continue to stand with landowners like Mr. Bishop in this David versus Goliath fight to defend our homes from toxic tar sands.”
See more photos here. Watch this video recorded live on the steps of the courthouse: