Oklahoma Family Claims Victory In Pipeline Battle

Thursday, September 1st 2011, 10:58 pm
By: News 9

Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact Team

DURANT, Oklahoma -- Sue Kelso never thought things would end like this. She says her experience proves the little guy can win.

"We're thrilled with it," said Kelso. "We feel like we won a big battle, like a little kid going against a big bully and the bully didn't win this time."

The Kelso's are claiming victory in a legal battle with the company TransCanada. The company started the legal proceedings by filing condemnation papers against the Kelso's. The company wanted to access part of the Kelso's family farm to build its 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline. But, the family fought back and TransCanada decided to drop the lawsuit.

"It's supposed to be for the good of the people and it wasn't going to benefit us at all," said Kelso.

5/10/2011 Related Story: Can a Company Based in Canada Use Eminent Domain in Oklahoma?

TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada though Oklahoma and down to refineries in the Gulf Coast. The company shifted the pipeline route so, it will now go through the Kelso's neighbor's property, an estimated 25 feet away.

Read the court dismissal document

Why did the company do an about face? We asked project representative Jim Prescott.

"It was clear this was going to be a matter that ended up in court," said Prescott. "We found a route that didn't necessitate that. It was better from a technical standpoint, from a legal standpoint so, we went in that direction."

6/16/2011 Related Story: More Concerns Raised About Proposed Crude Oil Pipeline Through Oklahoma

Prescott says it's common to change the pipeline route. However, he did not provide statistics regarding the number of times this has happened.

"When we get to this stage with some landowners, if we can find an alternative, a better route, we pursue that and drop the litigation. For us, that's a win, win," said Prescott.

Read official statement from TransCanada

Sue Kelso and her family say they're not done opposing TransCanada. Even though the pipeline will go the neighbor's property, they want to stop the pipeline altogether. They hope this experience sends a message to other Oklahomans.

"When people threaten eminent domain, to fight," said Kelso. "If you believe it's wrong then, fight it."

The State Department will ultimately decide if the pipeline's built. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must approve a presidential permit for construction to start. TransCanada's spokesperson believes that will happen.

Recent comments by Energy Secretary Steven Chu indicate that may be the case.

Chu said importing oil from Canada "is much more comforting than to have other countries supply our oil." He also said the project "is not perfect, but it's a trade-off."

8/26/2011 Related Story: Oklahoma Family Wins Battle Against Oil Company