Quantcast

PART I: One Man's Stand Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

Energy

Michael Bishop

[Editor's note: Thanks to Michael Bishop for providing EcoWatch this firsthand account of what happens when a company like TransCanada claims eminent domain on one's property and begins building a tar sands pipeline—the southern leg of the Keystone XL. Unfortunately, this is one of many examples of corporations putting profits before human health and the environment in pursuit of extreme fossil fuel extraction. The good news is that people like Michael Bishop are fighting back. This is the first of a four-part series. Read Part II, Part III and Part IV.]

My name is Michael Bishop and I am a landowner in Douglass, Texas in Nacogdoches County. I am the victim of eminent domain by a foreign, private corporation. I received a letter from TransCanada in 2008 informing me that my property had been selected as a potential route for their "crude oil" pipeline. At that time, the line was to go on the eastern border of my property and would cross my creek. It was also going to adversely affect my neighbors as well.

On Nov. 13, 2012, TransCanada started bulldozing Michael Bishop's property to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nacogdoches, Texas. Photo courtesy of Tar Sands Blockade

My neighbors and I met with the company's representatives. At that meeting, I offered them a suitable and reasonable alternative on the western edge of my property where existing pipelines were located. They informed us that we "could not tell them where to put their pipeline, according to Texas law." I left that meeting feeling helpless and betrayed by the very laws that are supposed to protect me and other people in this state.

It was something beyond my control and I simply forgot about it until my wife woke me up one morning to let me know people were on our property. I immediately went out and confronted the trespassers who informed me they represented TransCanada and that they were there to perform historical and archeological evaluations and to survey the route of the proposed pipeline. I immediately told them to leave my property. They had not notified me, given me the courtesy of a phone call or knocked on my door. I was told that if I refused to allow them access to my property, I would go to jail. As a former Marine, this became a major point of anger for me and I told them that if they did not leave my property, I would call 911. They left. I did not hear anything from them for quite some time.

When they decided to move forward with the project, I was called by two members of the survey team—Bob Johnston and Chad Wren—who wanted to meet with me to discuss the "new" route for the pipeline. I took a witness with me and met them for coffee. I was told at that meeting that the company (TransCanada) had decided the best route was indeed on the western edge of my property. I told them that I did not want any money from them, would move any buildings or equipment in their way and would sign any releases they required as long as they agreed to stay on the western edge of the property and away from the 14 acre tract of land where I raised my boys and where my six grandchildren now play.

The western edge of my property is also away from where I raise food for my family since 1988. I was told by those two individuals that I was one of the few people in the county that had "not settled" and that TransCanada had all of their construction permits in place and were ready to begin work. We agreed, shook hands and I left with a fairly good feeling. It's important to remember that I refused any compensation for the right of way they were seeking.

Time went by and I had heard nothing from the two representatives from TransCanada, so I emailed Johnston. He finally responded but informed me that the company had decided to come across my 14 acre tract (the homestead tract) instead of the "free offer" of the adjacent, adjoining six acre tract where existing pipelines already existed. I was furious and felt betrayed. His explanation was, "Your neighbor in the land behind you has a lake that we cannot bore under and therefore we had to reroute the pipeline."

That neighbor's lake is a small cattle "tank," not a pond, and I couldn't drown in it if I was trying to commit suicide. I told them to f**k off and that I would fight them.

Tom Weis served as contributing editor in this series.

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.

——–

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less