Oil

In Texas, Oil Companies Have Eminent Domain Authority

Even when they're Canadian, one landowner discovers.

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The Canadian energy company TransCanada can take over land owned by a Texas farmer to build its Keystone XL pipeline, a county judge ruled on Wednesday night. In a 15-word ruling sent from his iPhone, Judge Bill Harris of Lamar County Court at Law upheld TransCanada's condemnation of a 50-foot strip of land across Julia Trigg Crawford's pasture here. The pipeline is being built to carry oil to Texas refineries from Canada.

Ms. Crawford plans to appeal the ruling. "We may have lost this one battle here in Paris, Texas, but we are far from done," she said in a statement. "I will continue to proudly stand up for my own personal rights, the property rights of my family, and those of other Texans fighting to protect their land."

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  1. At least in this case, unlike Kelo vs. City of New London, the taking is for a public use: an oil pipeline available for many producers to transport their oil, rather than for a new private property development in Kelo.

    Balancing the rights of individuals vs. the desire of many to benefit from a public use (roads, schools, utilities rights of way, pipelines, parks, etc.) is difficult.

    Perhaps some software developer will write a program to allow property owners to state their price for their land to be used as a right of way and see the lowest cost route available for purchase. This will make it difficult for those holding out to get more than they should, would quickly allow those looking to develop rights of way to see what it would cost, and allow property owners flexibility the state won’t give them today.

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