A Texas farmer has lost her bid to prevent Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. from expropriating part of her farm to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

A county court upheld the company’s status as a common carrier and turned down Julia Trigg Crawford’s application to take the issue to a civil trial late Wednesday.

Earlier this month, lawyers argued for six hours over whether Crawford should be allowed to challenge TransCanada’s status as a common carrier, which in Texas gives it what lawyers call the power of eminent domain, or the right to seize property.

There’s been no decision on an appeal.

The $12-billion, 36-inch diameter pipeline would carry up to 1.1 million barrels of mainly oilsands crude a day more than 2,700 kilometers from Alberta to refineries in south Texas, crossing six states, including Crawford’s farm in northeast Texas.

The farm has been in her family for 64 years.

Most of the 850 Texas landowners along the route have signed agreements with TransCanada.

Crawford and her supporters said TransCanada attained its authority simply by checking a box on a form submitted to the Texas Railroad Commission — the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry in the state — that says "common carrier."

Case became property rights focal point

She argued that Keystone XL will operate solely for TransCanada’s benefit, failing to meet the legal definition of a common carrier where other firms are free to move their products over the pipeline.

In an emailed statement, Crawford said she was “incredibly disappointed” with the ruling, and “disturbed that a foreign corporation like TransCanada is allowed to hide behind the skirt of the Texas Railroad Commission and its Common Carrier rubber stamp.”

TransCanada spokesman Grady Semmons said the ruling reaffirms that it has continued to "follow all state and federal laws and regulations as we move forward with the construction of the Gulf Coast Project."

Jane Kleeb of the group Bold Nebraska, which has been fighting TransCanada's pipeline plans, calls the ruling an "affront to landowners' liberties."

"TransCanada has used its financial and legal resources to bully landowners like Julia Trigg Crawford in order to clear the way for their multibillion-dollar tarsands pipeline," Kleeb said in a release.

"Throughout the process, landowners have been cast aside and their concerns about land and water ignored."

Crawford says TransCanada unresponsive

Crawford had negotiated successfully in the past with two other pipeline companies in the past to alter their routes, but claimed that TransCanada was unresponsive, offering her $21,600 US to cross her property, an increase from its original offer of $5,000.

One reason the other firms changed their routes was the possibility that several burial vaults sacred to Caddo First Nations exist on Crawford’s farm.

The case had become a focal point in a conflict that pits TransCanada, multiple legal and public relations firms, property owners, environmentalists, lobbyists and politicians during a presidential campaign year against each other over claims of job creation versus hazards posed to property rights and water supplies.

Supporters have said the project would create 50,000 jobs and $2 billion US in economic potential for the state.

U.S. president Barack Obama rejected the application by TransCanada in November, but the firm resubmitted its proposal for an altered northern segment of the route in May, one it said would address concerns about potential damage to a massive aquifer beneath the environmentally sensitive Nebraska Sandhills.

The administration later approved a southern leg, which will run through Texas.

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  • 10. Oil And Gas Accounts For 4.8 Per Cent Of GDP

    The oil and gas industries accounted for around $65 billion of economic activity in Canada annually in recent years, or slightly less than 5 per cent of GDP. Source: <a href="http://www.ceri.ca/docs/2010-10-05CERIOilandGasReport.pdf" target="_hplink">Canada Energy Research Institute</a>

  • 9. Oil Exports Have Grown Tenfold Since 1980

    Canada exported some 12,000 cubic metres of oil per day in 1980. By 2010, that number had grown to 112,000 cubic metres daily. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=9&SheetID=224" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 8. Refining Didn't Grow At All As Exports Boomed

    Canada refined 300,000 cubic metres daily in 1980; in 2010, that number was slightly down, to 291,000, even though exports of oil had grown tenfold in that time. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=7&SheetID=104" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 7. 97 Per Cent Of Oil Exports Go To The U.S.

    Despite talk by the federal government that it wants to open Asian markets to Canadian oil, the vast majority of exports still go to the United States -- 97 per cent as of 2009. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 6. Canada Has World's 2nd-Largest Proven Oil Reserves

    Canada's proven reserves of 175 billion barrels of oil -- the vast majority of it trapped in the oil sands -- is the second-largest oil stash in the world, after Saudi Arabia's 267 billion. Source: <a href="http://www.ogj.com/index.html" target="_hplink">Oil & Gas Journal</a>

  • 5. Two-Thirds Of Oil Sands Bitumen Goes To U.S.

    One-third of Canada's oil sands bitumen stays in the country, and is refined into gasoline, heating oil and diesel. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 4. Alberta Is Two-Thirds Of The Industry

    Despite its reputation as the undisputed centre of Canada's oil industry, Alberta accounts for only two-thirds of energy production. British Columbia and Saskatchewan are the second and third-largest producers. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 3. Alberta Will Reap $1.2 Trillion From Oil Sands

    Alberta' government <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/27/alberta-oil-sands-royalties-ceri_n_1382640.html" target="_hplink">will reap $1.2 trillion in royalties from the oil sands over the next 35 years</a>, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

  • 2. Canadian Oil Consumption Has Stayed Flat

    Thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and a weakening of the country's manufacturing base, oil consumption in Canada has had virtually no net change in 30 years. Consumption went from 287,000 cubic metres daily in 1980 to 260,000 cubic metres daily in 2010. Source: Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=6&SheetID=99" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 1. 250,000 Jobs.. Plus Many More?

    The National Energy Board says oil and gas employs 257,000 people in Canada, not including gas station employees. And the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says the oil sands alone <a href="http://www.capp.ca/aboutUs/mediaCentre/NewsReleases/Pages/OilsandsaCanadianjobcreator.aspx" target="_hplink">will grow from 75,000 jobs to 905,000 jobs by 2035</a> -- assuming, of course, the price of oil holds up.


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  • 10. Encana

    Brand value: $418 million Photo: Doug Suttles, president and CEO of Encana Natural Gas (The Canadian Press) Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 9. Canadian Natural Resources

    Brand value: $702 million Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 8. Syncrude

    Brand value: $933 million Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 7. Suncor

    Brand value: $936 million Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 6. Cenovus

    Brand value: $1.109 billion Photo: Brian Ferguson, president and CEO of Cenovus Energy (The Canadian Press) Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 5. TransCanada

    Brand value: $1.47 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 4. Husky

    Brand value: $1.607 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 3. Petro-Canada

    Brand value: $1.831 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 2. Esso (Imperial Oil)

    Brand value: $1.849 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>

  • 1. Enbridge

    Brand value: $4.726 billion Source: <a href="http://www.brandfinance.com/offices/canada" target="_hplink">Brand Finance Canada</a>