KTRK News (ABC Houston): Liberty Co. resident battles over proposed Keystone Pipeline land grab

-By Ted Oburg

February 24, 2012- HOUSTON (KTRK) — One Liberty County resident is crying foul over what he calls bad business in the name of a pipeline that may never be built.

The proposed Keystone Pipeline XL would carry oil from Canada to refineries here in Houston and Port Arthur. And while its future right now is uncertain, oil companies aren't waiting for politicians to battle it out

All this may seem a little premature since the president said Keystone can't build this pipeline. But over the last several years, the Canadian company behind it has been buying land all over the state and what they can't buy, they're taking — and it's all legal.

This is the spot where controversy meets the country just off State Highway 326 in Liberty County.

From Canada, it's a speck on a map underneath a line drawn to plot a pipeline. But to Raymond Hill, it's far more.

Hill owns 135 acres of this east Texas land; his family's had it more than 100 years.

"You can't see the boundaries and you can't feel the presence of neighbors," Hill said.

And while he'll get to keep most of it, the Canadian company behind the controversial Keystone pipeline wants three acres of it. They came to Hill two years ago and still can't make a deal.

When we asked Hill why he's standing in their way, he replied, "I don't think I am. I've been willing to make a deal with a reasonable person, they just haven't shown me that person yet."

So the pipeline company took it and the county set a price — all before Hill said yes, just as Texas law allows.

Once pipeline companies pick their route through Texas they have to buy rights to use the land. But if they can't reach a deal, Texas law allows pipeline companies to seize it using eminent domain. It isn't the government doing it — they don't even need government permission — it's a private company seizing someone else's private land to make private profits.

"It wasn't anytime at all before people started asking who are these SOBs? They come in like they own the place," Hill said.

FULL STORY HERE:


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