Blame Canada! Pipeline Causes Eminent Domain Woes

Like maple syrup, Canada’s corporate aggression oozes over the United States: A plan by TransCanada to build an oil pipeline from the Dakotas to the Gulf of Mexico is running into problems as property owners refuse to allow the Keystone XL pipeline on their property. Unhindered by stereotypes of Canadians being friendly and accommodating, the company’s gone on the warpath, suing numerous private property owners despite the fact the project has yet to receive federal approval.

TransCanada presently has at least 34 eminent domain actions against landowners in Texas and 22 in South Dakota, with at least 45 letters sent out to owners in Nebraska and others in Oklahoma and Kansas. The tactics have enraged numerous people along the proposed 1,700-mile route. Many are blaming the Canadian company and questioning whether a foreign company can pressure landowners without a permit from the State Department, the agency charged with determining whether the project is in the “national interest.” A department spokesman stated it had no authority on the issue and that it was up to state law and the courts to determine appropriate use of eminent domain laws. Meanwhile, in August the State Department issued a report concluding that the pipeline would have minimum environmental impact if operated under federal regulations.

The plan has been at the center of debate and strong opinions ever since its proposal in 2008. The editorial board of the Washington Post reaffirmed its support of it. Others have tied it into supposedly sinister machinations of the Koch brothers. Land owners in East Texas found the TransCanada to be much rougher to deal with than local oil companies.

Regardless of the outcome, one thing remains clear: Canadians walk among us.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zieak/2265541510/)

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