Attorney General Gregg Abbott Urged to Use of “Broad Powers”
to Protect Public Safety and end Eminent Domain Abuse
Texans, especially across East Texas, are being contacted to reach Attorney General Greg Abbott before the startup of the Keystone XL pipeline on January 22. They are urging his involvement in protecting NE Texans’ property rights and waterways, and prodding the federal pipeline agency – the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) – on conducting due diligence in inspecting the pipeline before its start up.
Jim Williams, a retired chemical engineer in Houston with 44 years of experience working for many of the big oil in oil and gas, chemicals, and pipelines control and safety shutdown systems said, “In a meeting with PHMSA last week, it appears to us that the feds have not adequately inspected this pipeline following Public Citizen’s in-depth report, warning letters from PHMSA, and the CBS national news report delineating its possible faulty construction. We’re now appealing to the Attorney General to use the full arsenal of his constitutional, statutory, and common law powers to protect our property rights and the health and safety of our families.”
Linda Curtis, Executive Director of the new non-profit, non-partisan League of Independent Voters of Texas said, “We are asking citizens to send a letter to the Attorney General on the heels of 9 hearings in East Texas. These hearings, held in November and December, were organized by citizens themselves since the Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have not responded to a cross-partisan coalition’s requests since June 2013 to hold an interim study and public hearings on eminent domain, public safety and protection of East Texas waterways.”
The letter being sent to the Attorney General from citizens across the state asks the Attorney General to:
Demand that the federal government conduct due diligence on safety inspections on the Keystone XL before start up, or to otherwise delay its operation.
Inform officials throughout East Texas that they must make adequate safety plans for a breach of tar sands, which poses significantly more hazards to life, air and water than what TransCanada is telling officials is coming through their pipeline -- that would be just "crude oil."
Use the power of his office to end the use of eminent domain for private gain and to prevent its use solely to obtain discounts from real world values and to avoid liability from pipeline disasters.
The letter is also being copied to the three commissioners on the Railroad Commission. To date, the Railroad Commission has stood by the procedure for companies gaining eminent domain power by simply checking off a box on a “T4” form, despite the Texas Supreme Court ruling in Texas Rice Land Partners, Ltd. v. Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, LLC, 363 S.W.3d 192 (Tex. 2012) that this was insufficient. According to David Holland, “six years to the day less three weeks have passed since the supposed common carrier was formed on February 28, 2008, the actual facts of the now well known "Denbury Case" have never been presented to the public or any governmental entity. Denbury has filed yet another summary legal proceeding to keep the real facts in the dark, including whether or not the supposed pipeline company is anything more than a mere pretext.” The Denbury case has been remanded back to the lower court for a determination of the facts. A hea ring will be held in Beaumont on February 7.
The online letter to the Attorney General can be found here on the League of Independent Voter’s website here.