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Judge lifts order that halted pipeline‚??s construction

February 19. 2013 9:59PM
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HOUSTON -- A Texas judge has lifted a temporary restraining order that had stopped oil company TransCanada from building a portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline through the eastern part of the state.

The decision came after Michael Bishop, 64, a retired paramedic and chemist in East Texas, filed a lawsuit arguing that TransCanada defrauded him and other landowners, promising that the Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil, not tar sands.

Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz lifted the temporary restraining order Thursday morning after a hearing in Nacogdoches.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. TransCanada has yet to secure federal permission to build the vast majority of the route, but already received the go-ahead to build portions of the pipeline through Texas. TransCanada has been purchasing property for the project and, in some instances, condemning land through the power of eminent domain for the project.

Sinz had signed the temporary restraining order, which took effect Tuesday, after finding sufficient cause to stop work on the pipeline for two weeks. But he changed his mind after hearing from TransCanada's attorneys, who argued Bishop understood what he was doing when he signed off on an easement agreement with the company three weeks ago.

TransCanada has been open, honest and transparent with Mr. Bishop at all times. We recognize that not everyone will support the construction of a pipeline or other facilities, but we work hard to reach voluntary agreements and maintain good relationships with landowners, Shawn Howard, a TransCanada spokesman, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

Bishop represented himself, filing suit first against the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that oversees pipelines. He alleged that the commission had failed to properly investigate the pipeline to protect public health and safety. He followed up with the latest lawsuit against TransCanada.

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