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Keystone Kops: During Pipeline Protest, Texas Woman Arrested for Trespassing - On Her Own Property!

Jessica Goad
Climate Progress / News Report
Published: Monday 8 October 2012
At issue is the power of eminent domain, which allows the government to seize (for fair compensation) private property without the consent of the owner for projects considered to be for the public use or benefit.
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The recent protests against the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have reached a new height in Texas.  On Thursday, Eleanor Fairchild, a 78-year old great-grandmother, was arrested for trespassing after she stood in the path of bulldozers and machinery on her 300-acre ranch outside of Winnsboro, Texas that were tearing down trees to make the way for pipeline construction.

Fairchild, who was joined in her civil disobedience by actress and activist Darryl Hannah, explained her actions in a video saying:

Get off my land.  Period.  I don’t want tar sands anywhere in the United States. I am mad.  This land is my land. It’s been our land since ’83, our home is on it.  They are going to destroy the woods, and also they could destroy the springs.  It’s devastating, but it also is not very good to have tar sands anywhere in the United States.  This is not just about my land, it’s about all of our country.  It needs to be stopped.

Watch it:

At issue is the power of eminent domain, which allows the government to seize (for fair compensation) private property without the consent of the owner for projects considered to be for the public use or benefit.  Steve Mufson of the Washington Post reported earlier this summer that:

The vast majority of landowners have signed agreements with TransCanada, the pipeline owner. But where necessary, the Calgary, Alberta-based company is busy going to state courts to exercise eminent domain and lining up rights to cross properties throughout the Great Plains

While eminent domain and the laws and statutes surrounding it are complicated, the Keystone XL situation in Texas has come down to whether the pipeline is a common carrier of oil (giving it the right to eminent domain) or a private project (meaning that the company would have to negotiate individually with landowners).  Just recently, a judge ruled in favor of TransCanada and granted it eminent domain.  As Fairchild refused to sell any of her land to TransCanada and did not sign any contracts, the company was able to use eminent domain and legally have her arrested for trespassing on her own land.

The Washington Post described TransCanada’s general attitude towards landowners fighting pipeline by quoting one of the company’s lawyers who said:

We are not going to have one landowner hold up a multibillion-dollar project that is going to be for the benefit of the public.

The Keystone XL pipeline consists of three legs.  The northern and most well-known portion runs from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, and it remains under additional review by the U.S. Department of State because landowners in Nebraska raised serious concerns about its impacts on the Ogallala Aquifer.  Construction on the southernmost leg began in August (President Obama directed his administration to “make this project a priority” in March), and a middle leg that isalready online runs from Steele City to Cushing.

In addition to Fairchild and Hannah’s arrests, currently a handful of protestors are camped out in a tree house in the path of the pipeline construction.  And protestors have been arrested afterchaining themselves to heavy machinery over the last few weeks.

ABOUT Jessica Goad

Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Slimeballs like Perry beat

Slimeballs like Perry beat their breasts and decry anything that limits personal freedoms, until it comes to giving away things to the oil industry or other companies. You're either FOR or AGAINST these personal liberties and freedoms !! You can't have it both ways !!!

How priceless. The home of

How priceless. The home of "empowered" citizens and a governor who "fights" for the rights of the People and we see more eminent domain cases from there than any place else. (Think Rick Perry's Transportation Corridor Tollway). We can only hope voters remember just how much Rick Perry stood up for Texans.

I am rather surprised that she did not shoot these people. They were a clear and present danger to her and her property (not just the stolen property). I am even more surprised that the community did not come with guns and cases of ammo to help defend her property. This is not a comment on anything other than most Texans hate eminent domain (find it a violation of their rights) and take defending their property and that of their neighbors seriously. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate this mind-set and have been the benificiary of my Texas community protecting me when I needed it.

Violence should only be the very last option. But sometimes that is all the "bad people" understand.

dr DIAS's picture

TransCanada, the pipeline

TransCanada, the pipeline owner, an Calgary, Alberta, Canadian -based Transnational Corporation is a foreign corporation pushing and using "eminent domain" to take over land belonging to US Citizens!

If a Foreign Transnational Corporation can steal and not pay for lands that do not belong to then, this is invasion by a Foreign Transnational Corporation, an act of war?

Canadian Transnational Corporations are stealing natural resources from poor and underdeveloped countries!

Causing massive environmental RAPE all over the world without any Financial consequences to the People of Canada or the Canadian Government!!


The pipeline does not benefit

The pipeline does not benefit the people of the United States
the pipeline transports oil through our country not for our country
starting canada to TEXAS ( sorry I forgot which port city) for EXPORT
The number of jobs quoted only exist till completed then a skeleton crew -runs it
...THIS IS NOT EMINENT DOMAIN - - PUSHING IT THROUGH FOR PRIVATE COMPANIES BENEFITS.. under the table deals ????? there is not one politician in Washington not a millionaire......and listen to them tell you there is no more insider trading going on

Too disgusting for words.

Too disgusting for words.

A "taking" by the use of

A "taking" by the use of eminent domain--in this case for the profit of the few for the benefit of the few.



To start with, the six states through which the Keystone-XL pipeline is planned, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, have all given TransCanada the power of eminent domain! Some of the states have a modicum of private protection, but in Texas, if TransCanada wants your land, it's theirs.

They have given a foreign private company... transporting foreign private goods... to be exported to foreign markets... through U.S. territory... the power to take private U.S. land!! And our courts will probably bow down and not consider this an "unreasonable seizure", as prohibited by our constitution.

It's more than outrageous. It's thievery by TransCanada and the politicians and courts who bent to money.

Just some facts on the pipeline

"What's the advantage of sending Canadian crude to refineries way down in Port Arthur, Texas? Aha - because it's a port, and duty free (no export taxes). What the pushers of Keystone want to keep secret from you and me is that this oil will not be made into gasoline for our vehicles. Most of it will be refined into diesel and jet fuel and exported to Europe, China, and Latin America. The claim that the pipeline will reduce our reliance on OPEC is an outright lie."

It will provide only a few hundred temporary construction jobs, and a few dozen maintenance/monitoring jobs.

Why not run it straight west through all that unspoiled Canadian wilderness to the coast? It couldn't be that they're afraid of a spill, could it? Or, maybe just tearing through the unspoiled tundra into the biggest salmon fishery on the coast might offend someone (not be politically survivable). The Canadian government itself has delayed any approval of a pipeline on Canadian soil for over a year. Environmental and property ownership factors are a major concern for them, as they should be for us.

The Keystone XL pipeline would be an enormous physical structure, spanning almost two thousand miles, requiring special engineering almost every few yards of the way as it crosses mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, farmland, transmission lines and roads. It will have numerous pumping stations and "should" have a sophisticated electronic monitoring and control system, which itself would be subject to multiple failures.

There will be "several" spills/year. As an engineer, I can tell you that such a structure cannot be built to be spill proof, and there is a statistical certainty that it cannot operate flawlessly. It follows there is a statistical certainty of spills. Trans Canada itself "guessed" it would suffer a spill every seven years...but their own pipeline experience is a dozen spills in a year.

After it's useful life, the structure bisecting the United States will remain as an enormous, silent, ugly monument to corporate greed and political corruption.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is probably the single most environmentally destructive project in North America threatening millions of trees and thousands of miles of rivers, lakes and streams as it snakes its way across the nation’s heartland." This is not an idle concern. : as Bill McKibben recently pointed out, if burned in their entirety they’d kick up 240 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere, raising the earth’s temperature by a little less than one degree. That may not seem like much until you consider our carbon “limit” for the entire Earth is only two degrees—after that, we haven’t got much hope.

"Dr. James Hansen reiterated the case against tar sands in the New York Times, pointing out that the deposits contain "twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history." If we burn them on top of all the coal and oil and gas we're already using, "concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era" - a wildly different and likely unlivable earth. "

A little looking on the Internet about the pipeline shows the only real beneficiaries would be the oil companies, and state governments that will receive some transit tax, at great cost to the public well being.

The pipeline is a political boondoggle at the behest of big oil. Altogether, the company paid $1.33 million on lobbying (read bribes) in D.C. last year. Senators voting for the pipeline have received $27,552,302 from fossil fuel industries, on average, 3 times more than those voting against it. John Boehner (R-Ohio) had “folks from Keystone management as his guests at the State of the Union speech.

The fact that the payroll tax cut for American families had been held hostage to this environmental train wreck is unbelievable. And then, the thieving crooked Republicans in D.C. held a critical transportation bill hostage to the approval of this farce. This whole deal is just rotten from the tar sands to the stinking refineries in Texas, that have already ruined our air, and all so that the pathetically clueless fundamentalists morons can "win one".

Just as a footnote, the biggest U.S. export in 2011 was...fuel! Think about that until you come up with a clue about why oil interests want the pipeline.

Yours is the most complete,

Yours is the most complete, most cogent argument I've seen on why this abomination should have been stopped. Now, of course, the media are simply interested in parroting the useless presidential race talking points, so this usurpation of Americans' property is ignored.

A western pipeline is in the

A western pipeline is in the works. It will allow the company to direct the oil to the most profitable port. They will play the same games that they do with the pipelines that run through Michigan. They have been switching the flow between sending the oil to Montreal for export and the US refineries depending on which direction is more profitable. A little more research would have pointed you to Enbridge Pipeline problems in Michigan. The Alaskan pipeline has leaks every day.

Please find another climate "expert" other than Mr Hansen to quote. He is less than reliable with his papers and in his comments to the media. We don't know what the CO2 levels were even 60 years ago all we are doing is taking a guess. Highly respected atmospheric chemists and geo-chemists are questioning the current methodology for determining "paleo" levels of CO2.

The Keystone XL pipeline will

The Keystone XL pipeline will not be of any benefit to Americans at all, except for the very rich owners of that outfit. The low grade bitumen slurry it is intended to transport cannot be used to make gasoline. At best is can be coaxed into becoming diesel oil, which the refiners plan to ship abroad. We need to put our efforts into creating a hydrogen infrastructure for fuel we can use right here at home. Done properly, this will lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs in the green energy sector. Read about the social plan for volunteer lobbying to bring that about at ===>

Billionaire Kochroaches'

Billionaire Kochroaches' obscene profits trump peons' land usage rights.

Lady Justice sees gold, silver, and green -- Money Talks.

Typical big business bullying

Typical big business bullying their way around the little guy. With their general attitude of "We are not going to have one landowner hold up a multi-billion-dollar project that is going to be for the benefit of the public.", using the "benefit of the public" nonsense to hide behind when they are the ones making billions upon billions of dollars in this deal is disgusting.

We also know that this oil project is most likely to pollute the water aquifers in the area but the government and this company is not interested in that as well. We are running short of fresh water but this doesn't concern myopic people interested in monetary gains for today.

Being arrested on her own land is a sad statement when you know that the rich can do anything to you they want legally and buy the justice they need to get the results they want from this government. We the people are left holding our hats in our hands when the government thinks it is a "fair deal" for a company to steal the land in a power grab right out from under you called euphemistically, eminent domain and give you pennies for it. There is absolutely no protection from the government because they have been paid off by these billionaires. "Land of the free; home of the brave." I think I'm going to be sick.

See Wikipedia article "Kelo v

See Wikipedia article "Kelo v New London" a 2005 SCOTUS case on eminent domain, especially section on the "Congressional Reaction." (Surprise: Texas Republicans (Cornyn and Delay) fought AGAINST this kind of thing (along with Republicans Sensenbrenner, WI; Rehberg MT; and Democrat Conyers, MI. Bet they're singing a different tune in this case...). SCOTUS said in "Kelo" it's OK for gov't to blow off one private owner in favor of another if purpose is to eliminate "blight." How can Keystone (and today's House Repubs) contort the degradation of Ms. Fairchild's land into "an improvement?"

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