TransCanada is having a difficult time obtaining a right-of-way for its Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring oil from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast. The Kelso family and their attorney, Harlan Hentges, were prepared to fight a long and arduous eminent domain battle to keep the pipeline off their property. However, TransCanada decided to negotiate with neighbors willing to place the pipeline on their land. Sometimes, a feint is better than a direct attack. This is the kind of compromise utility companies should seek in acquiring rights-of-way. Minor route adjustments can avoid long, difficult court battles.
No doubt, this blog will write more about the Keystone XL Pipeline because of the sheer scale and the issues of federal and state law involved.
"They apparently decided to run the pipeline around the property," Hentges said, "through land belonging to someone willing to make a deal."
In an e-mail message, TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said route adjustments are a common part of the negotiation process. "Occasionally we make the decision to adjust the route in such a way that it involves other landowners," he said. The decision to change the route involving the property belonging to Kelso and her siblings was such a situation.
"In short, we found a better route option with a nearby landowner," Cunha said.
The decision comes as controversy over the pipeline approaches a fever pitch. Hundreds of protesters opposing the pipeline have been arrested outside the White House amid acts of civil disobedience. They have been calling on President Obama to scuttle plans for the pipeline, which, among other things, would invigorate the development of vast oil sands deposits in northwestern Canada.
These so-called tar sands -- a gooey mixture of sand, clay, and oil -- require extensive processing, including large amounts of water and energy, to produce marketable hydrocarbons. Full-scale exploitation of the tar sands would add copious amounts of new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and some climate experts have suggested that doing so would essentially condemn the planet to runaway global warming.