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Oklahoma Family Sues to Block Eminent Domain for Keystone XL announces that an Oklahoma family is suing in state district court to block TransCanada from using eminent domain to acquire rights-of-way to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

"The Landowners' property cannot be legally taken by... a privately-owned foreign corporate entity... for the benefit of a privately-owned foreign entity... (and) a foreign government," says the challenge filed by 12 members of the White clan. "TransCanada does not have the legal right to construct the proposed pipeline... (and) acted in bad faith by failing to make a reasonable offer for the purchase of Defendants' property before filing the Petition for condemnation."

..."I don't think it is fair for a foreign company doing business in the U.S. to come in and railroad us by taking our land without our consent," said Sue Kelso of Duncanville, Texas, daughter of A.L. and Dollie White. "Eminent domain is supposed to benefit everyone. Who's going to benefit from this pipeline except the oil companies and the Chinese?" ["Oklahoma Family Fights Land Grab for Canadian Tar Sands Oil Pipeline," press release,, 2011.01.17]

I couldn't agree more, Ms. Kelso. However, the press release opens with a slightly inaccurate line:

In what is believed to be the first legal challenge to the use of eminent domain to secure U.S. right-of-way for a proposed tar sands oil pipeline....

They may be referring to Keystone XL, but we should remember that TransCanada has already fought and won eminent domain challenges to the Keystone system. Remember Keystone I, the tar sands pipeline currently pumping a couple hundred thousands barrels of tar sands oil through South Dakota each day (and leaking five times more frequently than expected)? Landowners here in South Dakota waged exactly the fight Ms. Kelso and the White clan are mounting... and the South Dakota landowners lost.

The family's lawyer, Harlan Hentges, is ready to make the argument that Keystone XL will benefit only TransCanada. I hope the Oklahoma litigants will find a judge who recognizes that the Fifth Amendment applies to government and public uses, not foreign corporations and private profit.


  1. RJ Traver 2011.01.19

    Unfortunately after the Supreme Court's Kelo decision I doubt if these people have a chance....

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.01.19

    South Dakota was the first state, I think, to pass legislation responding to the Kelo decision and banning use of eminent domain for private gain. That still didn't trump TransCanada's "common carrier" argument. I hope Kelso can beat Kelo!

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