This week, Tar Sands Blockade delivered over 1,100 public comments telling the Texas Railroad Commission’s Sunset Advisory Commission to end eminent domain for private gain and to stop allowing pipeline companies to call tar sands/dilbit “crude oil.”
The response from the Commission was tepid, but our presence was noted everywhere from industry lobbyists to the Capitol building security, who told us they were briefed to expect protesters at the hearing… who, us? protest?
Our comments, while perhaps falling short of outright protest, were quite adversarial, and all of us speaking out made the breadth and depth of our opposition known. Present were anti-tar sands stalwart organizations like Public Citizen but also long-outspoken landowners like our neighbors Julia Trigg Crawford and David Holland.
We read to the commission a comment we received from Fort Worth resident Dan H. who stated, “As a recipient of an eminent domain land grab, I can freely say from my observation of others at meetings and such that lives are dramatically changed, some forever. Have even heard of suicides. The land becomes so undervalued for most purposes, it is essentially gone, as is all the nearby and adjoining land. The grabbers, knowing their legal rights, are obstinate asses. . . A one time payment for a small strip of land that ruins adjoining land is just wrong wrong wrong!”
Also chiming in on the horrors of tar sands/dilbit were Dallas residents speaking out against another proposed tar sands pipeline which crosses waterways that supply fresh water to Dallas and Fort Worth. The Seaway pipeline is a joint venture between pipeline companies Enbridge and Enterprise, which are seeking a line reversal of an aging 36 year-old pipeline from Cushing, OK to Freeport, TX. It should go without saying why tar sands/dilbit doesn’t belong in ANY pipelines let alone aging pipelines.
Immediately after our presentations, we were countered by Leonard Mallet, Vice President of Engineering for Enterprise, and James Prescott, a TransCanada spokesperson. Both continued insisting that tar sands/dilbit is “conventional crude oil” and that there was nothing different at all between the two. They went further, breathlessly insisting that they only use Eminent Domain as a last resort when the pipe simply cannot be moved! Wow!
Not only that but Mr. Mallet had some crocodile tears for our landowner friends who had testified about their humiliating and cruel experiences at the hands of TransCanada. Mallet, who is in the engineering department, claimed that he never hears what landowners think.
“I walk away with a sensitivity, and I hope that no one in our group is treating landowners the way [I heard] they were treated today. Condemnation is a last resort. We will go around people who don’t want us on their property. It’s our position that condemnation is a last resort,” Mallet insisted, speaking on behalf of Enterprise, which just issued NINE Temporary Restraining Orders on landowners in Collin County, Texas alone who don’t want the Enbridge/Enterprise Seaway tar sands pipeline going across their land! NINE! Last resort, HA!
The Sunset Advisory Commission’s Public Testimony Hearing happened on the same day that our neighbor Mike Bishop had a hearing in Nacogdoches County Court on his case claiming that TransCanada committed fraud in its contract negotiations with him. Mike’s hearing was delayed by Nacogdoches County Judge Jack Sinz, who ordered Mike and TransCanada to write a Plea of Jurisdiction explaining why his court is the proper venue to hear the case.
Whether his case is heard in County Court or in District Court, his case will blow the lid off of TransCanada’s fraudulent abuse of Eminent Domain in Texas.
Tar Sands Blockade is the physical injunction for our neighbors where temporary injunctions haven’t been granted.
The courts, the legislature, local elected officials, the non-profit industrial complex, and even many of our neighbors may have let us down thus far, but it’s never too late to do the right thing.
Join us, neighbor!
Rise up and defend your home:
Come to our January Mass Action!