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Texas Landowners Take A Rare Stand Against Big Oil

"This is not about the money," said Crawford, who notes that TransCanada's final offer of $20,000 amounts to less than $1 a day over 60 years, less time than her family has been on the land. "This is about the right of a landowner to control what happens on their land."

David Dodson, a TransCanada spokesman in Houston, said the company has agreements with 60,000 landowners in North America, hundreds of them in Texas. Many have been reached easily, he said. The problems in Texas, he believes, may just be a sign of the times.

"These days, anyone who attempts to build a linear infrastructure project, Texas, wherever it is, it doesn't matter, is facing increased opposition," Dodson said.

David Holland's 3,850-acre rice farm and ranch in southeast Jefferson County is littered with nearly 50 pipelines. In the five years since he was first approached by TransCanada, he said he has signed contracts with two other companies. He insists he would do the same for TransCanada â¿¿ if they offered him fair value for his 10.5 acres.

Until now, Holland said, he and other landowners had given pipeline companies a roughly 20 percent discount because it was cheaper than fighting Big Oil. TransCanada offered him more than $400,000 for his land. But that, he said, was about $200 less for every 16.5 feet than he had previously received. After Holland declined, the court allowed TransCanada to take the land for $13 for every 16.5 feet â¿¿ totaling slightly more than $20,000.

"Every landowner in the state is furious at them," he said.

Some landowners have reached agreements without a problem. Henry Duncan, whose 200-acre farm is across the road from the Crawford's, wouldn't say how much TransCanada paid, but feels he was fairly compensated for his 7 acres. He does wish they would use American-made steel for the pipe and hire local workers. He, too, feels they bullied landowners, but is realistic.

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