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No More Eminent Domain For Private Gain!

How did TransCanada get permission to seize Texans’ private land for its corporate profits? It checked a box on a single-page government form. Yep, that’s all a pipeline company has to do to get ”common carrier” status and the power to take land with eminent domain. The good news is that with your help this Wednesday we have a chance to change that.

The Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), the agency that granted the Keystone XL eminent domain authority, is up for its twelve year Sunset review this Wednesday. If we get enough public comments to the TRC we can delay Keystone XL with a review process that will ensure the voices of affected landowners will finally be heard.


Every comment has an impact because we will personally deliver them to the Commission at Wednesday’s hearing in Austin. 
Plus anyone can submit a comment regardless of which state you live in, so add your voice today!

Tar Sands Blockade is calling upon the Sunset Advisory Commission to demand the 83rd Texas Legislature provide immediate relief to property owners who have been bullied and defrauded by TransCanada and other pipeline companies through the Railroad Commission’s nonexistent oversight.

The official public comment form below is a little long and complex so let me break it down for you really quickly. When you submit a comment it says two simple statements:

  1. No Eminent Domain for Private Gain: Pipeline companies like TransCanada shouldn’t be allowed to seize private land for their profits.
  2. Tar Sands Is Not Crude Oil: TransCanada lied about the contents of Keystone XL and shouldn’t be allowed to pump toxic tar sands.

 

THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT WAS SUBMITTED BY TAR SANDS BLOCKADE
TO THE SUNSET ADVISORY COMMISSION:

Sunset Advisory Committee Members,
CC’d Texas Railroad Commissioners:

No Eminent Domain for Private Gain!

Under existing rules, private pipeline companies are allowed to seize property from Texas landowners with eminent domain for their private gain. All they have to do is check a box on a government form. This unacceptable designation is called “common carrier” status and is granted by the Texas Railroad Commission on a single-page government form called the T-4 form. A Texas Supreme Court decision last year clearly stated that this process “imperils private property with nonchalance.”

Unacceptably, the Railroad Commission continues to violate Texans’ Constitutionally protected rights to private property by granting eminent domain for private gain to pipelines like TransCanada’s Keystone XL. Texans deserve better protection of their homes, businesses and recreational lands.

The Sunset Advisory Commission should demand the 83rd Texas Legislature pass legislation requiring the following:

  1. That all common carrier pipeline determinations be subject to public case hearings with full notice to landowners along a proposed pipeline’s route who then have the right to appeal final rulings in contested cases,
  2. That the Railroad Commission assess a fee associated with the claim of common carrier status to cover the costs of the court proceedings,
  3. That the Railroad Commission open contested case hearings on all common carrier pipeline claims where pipes have yet to become operational including in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Tar Sands/Dilbit IS NOT Crude Oil!

Currently, the Railroad Commission’s pipeline permit T-4 application only requires common carrier pipelines to check a box indicating the claim to their pipeline’s contents. There is no oversight and no opportunity for landowners to contest the assertion.

Texans don’t deserve to be burdened with suing to discover information vital to the health and safety of their families and homes from supposedly public service pipelines. This is especially true of pipelines carrying tar sands/dilbit, which are many times more toxic to human health and the environment than conventional crude oil.

The Sunset Advisory Commission should demand the 83rd Texas Legislature pass legislation requiring the following:

  1. That upon the claim of common carrier status, a pipeline immediately publicly file a Material Data Safety Sheet claiming exactly what it will carry,
  2. That all diluents added to dilbit and other pipelines be accounted for in the pipeline’s Material Data Safety Sheets regardless of “proprietary chemical” claims,
  3. That the Railroad Commission require immediate public disclosure of all Material Data Safety Sheets by all common carrier pipelines registered in the state,
  4. That the Railroad Commission add a dilbit category to the pipeline T-4 permit application,
  5. That all pipelines carrying dilbit amend their pipeline T-4 permits if they initially claimed to carry “crude oil.”

Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.

Sincerely,
Tar Sands Blockade

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/sunset-review/