TEXAS CHEMIST, FORMER MARINE, CHARGES KEYSTONE PIPELINE FRAUD
By William Boardman Email address removed
If it turns out that a court decides that TransCanada defrauded Texas landowners when it was establishing its right of way for the Keystone XL pipeline's southern leg, legal proceedings in Nacogdoches County Court at Law could stop further construction as early as December 19, but any final resolution of the dispute between TransCanada and pipeline opponents most likely remains a long way off.
Judge Jack Sinz of the County Court at Law has already issued one temporary restraining order and injunction on December 7, ordering TransCanada to halt pipeline construction, pending a hearing on December 19. The order took effect on December 11. Then, after granting the Canadian corporation an emergency hearing on December 13, he vacated the initial order and injunction, while leaving the scheduled merits hearing on the docket.
Marine vet and retired chemist Michael Bishop of Douglass, Texas, filed the initial complaint that persuaded Judge Sinz there was sufficient cause to issue an injunction. Bishop owns land through which the pipeline right of way now passes, a right of way that, Bishop argues, TransCanada acquired by fraud, lying to him and other landowners about the nature of the "oil" the pipeline would carry.
Before Bishop's case could be heard on the facts, TransCanada petitioned the court to withdraw the injunction, since company had paid Bishop for the use of his land, and he had signed an agreement and cashed their check.
Bishop acknowledged to the judge that he had settled with TransCanada, but only after a prolonged legal struggle in the eminent domain case the company brought against him and which he could no longer afford to fight. He had rejected TransCanada's first offer of $8,000. When he finally settled "under duress," as he put it, TransCanada paid him $75,000, of which he kept about $3,800. The rest went mostly to his lawyers, as well as a fee to a Texas land agency.
In the County Court at Law case, Bishop is representing himself without a lawyer.