A judge in Lamar County, Texas, ruled Wednesday night that TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline has the right of eminent domain, rejecting a plea by farm manager Julia Trigg Crawford and dealing a blow to landowners and environmentalists who have been trying to block construction of the pipeline.
The ruling by Judge Bill Harris removes yet another potential obstacle for TransCanada, which already has permits from the Army Corps of Engineers for the southern leg of the pipeline, which starts in Cushing, Okla., and runs to Port Arthur, Texas. TransCanada has said it will start building as soon as possible.
In March, President Obama endorsed the construction of the southern leg of the pipeline. He said it would alleviate a supply bottleneck at Cushing, where the benchmark price of oil is set for the U.S. market.
But environmental groups and some landowners have been mounting a campaign to stop or delay construction because of the threat a leak might pose to rivers and wetlands.