TransCanada Wins Deal to Halt Keystone Protests in Texas

TransCanada Corp. (TRP) reached an agreement with some protesters to end months of blockades and demonstrations aimed at disrupting construction of the Keystone XL Canadian tar-sands pipeline in Texas and Oklahoma.

The protesters agreed not to trespass on pipeline easements or at TransCanada offices anywhere along the southern leg of the pipeline, which stretches from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the refinery-industry complex on the Texas Gulf coast, according to an agreed judgment and permanent injunction signed Jan. 25.

The accord includes any attempt at “chaining, shackling, binding or attaching a person’s body or any other object, article or mechanism to Keystone equipment to immobilize, stop, halt or arrest Keystone equipment or construction activities or operations on Keystone property,’’ according to papers signed by attorneys for both sides.

The agreement was negotiated by lawyers for TransCanada and Tar Sands Blockade, who were gathered in state court in Quitman, Texas, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Dallas, for a hearing to extend a temporary restraining order granted against some protesters in October, David Dodson, a spokesman for Calgary-based TransCanada, said in a phone interview today.

Environmental Groups

The agreement covers several environmental groups and 20 individual protesters, Dodson said in an e-mailed statement.

Ron Seifert, an activist with Tar Sands Blockade, said the agreement doesn’t bind anyone unaffiliated with the parties to the deal. He said the activists were being threatened by the pipeline company with a $5 million lawsuit for delaying construction.

“There are no limitations on speech by any of these individuals or organizations, and the Blockade will continue to speak out against this dangerous project,” Seifert said today in a telephone interview. “TransCanada is just wrong if they think that limiting the rights of a few Texans will squash the grassroots resistance to this project.”

Wood County District Judge G. Timothy Boswell had urged the sides to settle their differences out of court, Dodson said. The resulting deal extended beyond that single county to include demonstrations aimed at interfering with pipeline construction activities throughout Keystone’s entire southern leg.

Diluted Bitumen

TransCanada has been battling environmental protesters and landowners in multiple locations along its 2,151-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which is intended to carry diluted bitumen obtained from Canadian tar sands. The protesters sought to highlight what they claim is the Keystone’s potential for environmental catastrophe, should the line leak or rupture.

Tar Sands Blockade supported protesters who occupied treetop encampments and chained themselves to construction equipment along the pipeline route through East Texas since the middle of last year.

“TransCanada has obtained all of the permits and legal approvals to build the Gulf Coast Pipeline, and this judgment reinforces that,’’ Dodson said in the statement. “We hope this will allow our construction activities to move forward without harassment and the safety concerns that these protestors and organizations have created.’’

Seifert said activists are urging “other organizations and other groups that have become mobilized by these protests” to continue the fight.

“This is far from over,” he said.

The case is TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP v. Beebe, 2012-605, 402th Texas Judicial District Court (Wood County).

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston at laurel@calkins.us.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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