Oklahoma Family Wins Battle Against Oil Company
Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact Team
DURANT -- The fight against a crude oil pipeline is over for the White family from Bryan County. TransCanada just dismissed its condemnation case against the family.
The company was trying to use eminent domain and force the family to allow part of its Keystone XL pipeline on their property. TransCanada is trying to expand its pipeline from Cushing to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The family's lawyer, Harlan Hentges, calls this a victory. He tells us the company plans to move the pipeline 25 feet from its original path. That means, it will no longer be on the White family's property. Hentges believes fear over a U.S. Supreme Court challenge led to TransCanada's dismissal. He and the family were prepared to take the case to the state supreme court to challenge whether the company has the right to use eminent domain.
James Prescott, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Project Representative, released the following statement regarding the suit's dismissal:
In keeping with our policy to treat all landowners fairly and in good faith, we have always worked to address landowners' concerns, answer their questions and, if needed, develop the best possible solution. Route adjustments are a common part of that process.
We make every effort to work with landowners to reach an agreement, but occasionally we make the decision to adjust the route in such a way that it involves other landowners. The decision to change the route involving the White's property is such a situation.
In short, we found a better route option with a nearby landowner.
Therefore, Keystone withdrew the eminent domain proceeding when we determined the pipeline route would no longer cross the White's property.
A new environmental study released Thursday, August 26, 2011 says the pipeline won't cause significant environmental problems during construction or operation. TransCanada is still waiting for the State Department to decide on a presidential permit necessary to begin construction on the pipeline.
The State Department will host nine public meetings across the United States to allow people to voice their views on whether it should grant or deny the permit. Oklahoma's meeting will take place Friday, September 30th from 4:30-10:30 PM at the Reed Center Exhibition Hall in Midwest City.
We are traveling to Durant to interview the family about their victory. Watch for the full updated story.