TransCanada

Updates on Eminent Domain, Local Foods & Local Organizing!

Here are some important updates and events:

Eminent Domain   

There’s a lot of news we’re sure you’ve been reading in the regular press about the TransCanada, including this breaking news on protests in NE Texas to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.  Our question is why isn’t somebody doing something to protect the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer that serves 12 million people?

Check out what these brave farmers and landowners, who call themselves the Brazos River Bottom Alliance, are doing to protect their land from seizures by Union Pacific.

Read this new piece on about how NE Texans are organizing “391 Commissions” to protect their land, water and property rights.

Farm and Ranch and Local Foods:

We have been remiss in not mentioning this important event for farmers, ranchers and the many of us who like having our food grown locally.

Click here for the details on this year’s FARFA conference in Bastrop, next Monday and Tuesday.

GMA 12 Keeping Our Water Local: (for central Texas)

A hearing on the ALCOA application for a huge (25,000 acre-feet) amount of groundwater from the acquifer serving GMA (Groundwater Management Area) 12.  Click here for the details from our friends at Environmental Stewardship.

Aqua Water is also holding it’s yearly water forum, this time with Keep Bastrop Beautiful on September 18th.  This is a great opportunity to ask Texas Ag Commission, Todd Staples, how we can keep groundwater local.

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Lamar County Judge Harris Rules by IPhone — TransCanada Can Take Our Land!

Lamar County Judge Bill Harris really took the cake yesterday evening.  His 15 word ruling, sent via his iPhone (and likely blind copied to a member of the media), granted TransCanada summary judgement.  Yes, according to Harris, TransCanada can come on in and take Julia Trigg Crawford and fame’s land.

For your information, we kept our mouths shut on how we were treated in his courtroom two weeks ago.  We didn’t want to hurt Julia’s case.  But now we can tell you he treated us like naughty children, made no provisions for seating — many of us had to sit on the floor.  He threatened us numerous times for merely moving in and out of the courtroom.  And, more importantly, he carefully ridiculed Julia Trigg Crawford for being an “activist.”

We hope this case isn’t the end of this fight.  But that is up to a lot of people, including many Texans, who have had enough of the lack of balance between property owners and the pipeline industry — and the yahoos who are running this state.  I’m talking about the Governor and the Railroad Commission, who have yet to mention anything about the fact that this pipeline will cross the great Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer that serves 12 million people.

Our resources — land and water — are precious.  We need to make the politician’s pay the price for what they are doing to Texas and Texans.

Therefore, we ask that you call your State representative RIGHT NOW and let them know that you have a problem with the State of Texas leaving land owners and aquifers unprotected.  Tell them you won’t stand for them staying quiet on this issue and that you’re not going away.  Find out who represents you here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/.

Linda Curtis
Independent Texans

PS  Those of you who live in central Texas, be aware that Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt may be your State Representative.  He is Vice-Chair of the Land and Resource Management Committee that has held one hearing so far on eminent domain abuse.  He wasn’t friendly to landowners, so call him!

Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contacts:  Debra Medina, We Texans, 512.663.8401, Terri Hall, TURF, 210.275.0640, Linda Curtis, Independent Texans, 512.657.2089, Jessica Ellison, Texans for Accountable Government, 512.653.9179,

Ruling on Keystone XL pipeline
Texas Landowner Julia Trigg Crawford  and other landowners  lose major battle to protect themselves from takings of Private Property by Foreign companies
Reaction from former Gubernatorial Candidate Debra Medina and Statewide Groups As Canadian Company Prepares To Begin Pipeline Construction
(Paris, Texas ) A judge today ruled in favor of the controversial Keytone  XL pipeline, allowing them to act as common carrier and giving them to right to condemn land for use as a pipeline.

“Since the Texas Railroad Commission determined way back in 2008 that it had no jurisdiction over TransCanada’s interstate pipeline, it simply defies logic that TransCanada is allowed to take private citizens’ land under a Texas law that requires a pipeline operator to subject itself to the Commission’s juridsiction,” said Wendi Hammond, attorney for landowner.  “The Texas Supreme Court has repeatedly held that if there is an incident of doubt regarding the power of eminient domain authority, then a court must rule in favor of the landowner. Unfortunately, this judge failed to do so.”  Wendi Hammond, the attorney for the landowner

“Judge’s Harris disappointing decision today further highlights the vulnerable and precarious position that Texas landowners are in” said Debra Medina, former Republican candidate for Governor  “ These cases are often argued in county courts poorly equipped to assess such weighty legal questions.  These courts lack the resources to properly consider the complex and voluminous evidence assembled by multibillion dollar corporations.”

“These are pipelines carrying poisons, not for oil independence in our country, but for export, from a foreign land, through our pipelines, to a port that’s going to ship them to foreign lands. These aren’t common carriers for the common good of Texans  — this is a  pipeline designed to speed  oil through Texas,. There are no on or off ramps to this pipeline in Texas and as a result it should not have been permitted to use eminent domain to condemn Texans lands .” Said Tom “Smitty”  Smith of Public Citizen

“The Texas Supreme Court was clear in Denbury that private companies have to prove their project qualifies as a true ‘public use’ before it can exercise eminent domain. We’re disappointed in the Judge’s decision, but we’re confident that the Crawford’s will eventually prevail. This decision puts the onus on the Texas legislature to remedy the outrageous eminent domain abuse taking place in our state, ” said Terri Hall, Director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. “The time for talk is over. Texans are losing their land because of poor oversight and the legislature’s refusal to address the heart of the problem. Texans aren’t going to accept the crumbs we’ve been handed, cloaked as eminent domain reform. It’s time to get serious before irreparable harm is needlessly inflicted upon Texans.”

Recently, the Texas House Land and Resource Management Committee met at the Capitol to hear invited testimony from Crawford and other interested parties regarding the dilemma of industries self-proclaiming they are common carriers with no review from any state agency as to whether a company is truly a common carrier or not. The House Energy Management Committee has also held hearing on pipeline safety issues.

Linda Curtis, director of Indy Texans. Noted, “Ms. Crawford’s case is emblematic of the continuing struggle of Texas landowners being tread upon by a private company taking land for private use, and foreign profit.  TransCanada has yet to provide any evidence that they have the legal authority to seize property in Texas”

” TransCanada used the Commission’s T-4 permit  as an authorization to take Texans land for a private for-profit, foreign pipeline project.  There was no vetting or review by the Commission of a pipeline company’s self-designation as a common carrier. The commission  says  that it has no control over eminent domain.  The legislature needs to fix this mess and assure that landowners rights and the environment are protected.  ” said Chris Wynnyk Wilson  of the Stop Tar Sands Oil Pipelines ( STOP)

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TransCanada Decides its Own Verdict

TransCanada Decides its Own Verdict and Demands Writ of Possession for Land along Keystone XL Pipeline Path

TransCanada takes possession of farmer’s land and announces the results of trial on the Canadian National Broadcasting Network … all before the presiding Judge makes a final ruling.

PARIS, TX – In an interview aired on Canadian National Broadcasting Network on Monday, newscasters read a statement from TransCanada stating that:

“..On the issue of the common carrier status the ruling by Judge Harris reaffirms that TransCanada is a common carrier.”

In direct contrast with TransCanada’s public statement, last Friday in the Lamar County Courthouse, Judge Bill Harris announced first thing that there would not be a ruling in his courtroom.  The room was filled with statewide groups of all political persuasions supporting landowner Julia Trigg Crawford and her family against TransCanada which has announced plans to start building the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline on their property. The Keystone XL is to carry tar sands crude from Cushing, Oklahoma to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

Judge Harris has not ruled on the Crawford family’s case.  TransCanada has not proven its common carrier status.

Even though TransCanada has not proven their common carrier status, they did receive a writ of possession at the last hearing. This means that even though the judge has not yet ruled on their common carrier status, that they currently have legal possession of the Crawford family’s land and the legal right to begin trenching on their land at any point.

In Denbury Green vs. Texas Rice Land Farmers, the Texas Supreme Court recently upheld their ruling that a land owner has the legal right to challenge a pipeline company’s common carrier status.  They also ruled that a pipeline company cannot conclusively acquire the right to condemn private property simply by checking the right boxes on a one-page form filed with the Railroad Commission.
While the Denbury Green ruling still stands, it remains true that there is no legal process or agency in Texas responsible for vetting a pipeline company’s claim of common carrier status before that company is given the legal right to take possession of a private citizen’s land.

Spokesperson for Independent Texans and landowner in Big Sandy, Texas (a town on the pipeline pathway) Jessica Ellison, said “It is outrageous that a private company doesn’t have to prove that they have the legal ability to take your land before they start moving in with bulldozers and pipelines.  With TransCanada announcing a verdict before the judge rules, it seems like TransCanada keeps trying to put the cart before the horse and is ignoring the Supreme Court decision.”

Executive director of Public Citizen, Tom ‘Smitty’ Smith, said “The answers we need may not lie ultimately in this Judge’s decision; the answer may be an appeals court.  The final outcome will also be laid at the foot of the Texas legislature to do something about this kind of abuse. We have already begun the process of pointing out the grave inequities of companies being able to walk into the Railroad Commission saying ‘trust us, we’re a common carrier,’ and then be granted eminent domain authority without the needed checks and balances or  review by an authorized government agency. That needs to change with the next legislative session.”
Crawford’s hearing is the first case since the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the landowner’s right to protect private property from an illegal taking.   Judge Harris is expected to make a ruling on the matter within days.

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Julia Trigg Crawford Trial Update

Just a quick update to share with you about our trip to Paris, Texas for Julia Trigg Crawford’s hearing on TransCanada and eminent domain.

The judge will rule in the next 1-2 weeks.
The link below will take you to an article an article in the Longview News.
We will keep you informed as the trial progresses AND there are town hall meetings throughout the state on this important issue.
If you do not receive our emails, please sign up to get them on this site or like us on Facebook.
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The Eyes of Texas Are Upon Paris…Texas, that is

Please spread the word about this pivotal — landmark — case, involving property rights and the people versus the oil lobby (specifically TransCanada and the Keystone XL pipeline) going to trial this Friday, August 10th, in Paris, Texas.

Linda Curtis will be going to represent Independent Texans at a press conference at 9 a.m., to be followed by the trial of Julia Trigg Crawford.  I invite you to join me there.  This is the first test case of the unanimous Texas Supreme Court “Denbury” decision.  The decision states that pipeline operators cannot be given the power of eminent domain by simply checking a box on a form.  That should be a no-brainer, but apparently not to most Texas politicians who have — so far — refused to stand up for property rights, for real.

Read here for more background and please come to Paris and bring some Texans with you who see that the politicians (and their benefactors) can’t have it both ways.  They can’t waive the flag of conservatism and property rights, while they sell out Texans and their land to the — lowest — bidders, the world over.

You can spread the word about this on our Facebook page here.

Hope to see you Paris…Texas, that is!

If you’re coming, you might reach Linda Curtis directly at 512-535-0989 or email her at ljcurtis@indytexans.org.

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Austin is Not Developers’ Monopoly Board

Sign it, if you live in Austin

Austin is Not Developers' Monopoly Board

Dear Mayor Adler and Austin City Council Members:

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Why don't you share this with your friends, please:

Make Growth Pay for Itself

No Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose

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