Keystone vs. Landowners

In its bid to move unrefined bitumen from the oilsands of Alberta to refineries in Texas, TransCanada pipeline is finding some of its toughest opponents aren't environmentalists or regulators but the ranchers and farmers whose land the pipeline will cross.

Part One of The Current


It's Monday, October 24th.

U.S. President Barack Obama says that by year's end, all remaining US troops will withdraw and "America's war in Iraq will be over."

Hey, that's weird ... he didn't say 'Mission Accomplished.'

This is The Current.

Keystone vs. Landowners - John Harter / Sue Kelso

We started this segment with some sound of protesters. Many Americans don't want TransCanada to build its pipeline from Alberta to Texas, crossing six U.S. states to do it. But there's a difference between opposing the pipeline in principle and opposing it because it's running across your backyard. Dozens of landowners across the U.S. did not wish to sell their land to TransCanada and now face legal action. It's called eminent domain.

Broadly speaking, it's a principle in U.S. law that forces landowners to sell, if a project is for the public good. We reached John Harter this morning. He's a cattle rancher who owns about 500 hectares of land in South Dakota. The proposed pipeline would cut diagonally across about 110 hectares of his land. And Sue Kelso has been through an eminent domain battle with TransCanada. We reached her on her family farm in Oklahoma.

Keystone vs. Landowners - David Domina

The proposed Keystone pipeline would cross six states: Oklahoma, South Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Texas and the home state of David Domina -- Nebraska.

David Domina is a lawyer who represents about 45 landowners worried they'll soon be in court fighting TransCanada over their land. We reached him in Omaha.

Keystone vs. Landowners - John Goudy Clip

In Canada, there is a significantly smaller geographic area affected by the proposed pipeline. And unlike in the United States, the Keystone XL pipeline project has been approved by the government of Canada. In Alberta, many of the landowners banded together to collectively bargain for a better deal. Still, in theory, reluctant owners on this side of the border could face similar action. We heard from John Goudy, a lawyer from Ilderton, Ontario.

The Current invited TransCanada to speak with us today. But the Canadian company declined. A spokesperson said its legal counsel advised against it because eminent domain proceedings are ongoing and other land-owners threaten legal action.

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