During Pipeline Protest, Texas Woman Arrested For Trespassing – On Her Own Property

Written by Jessica Goad

The recent protests against the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have reached a new height in Texas.† On Thursday, Eleanor Fairchild, a 78-year old great-grandmother, was arrested for trespassing after she stood in the path of bulldozers and machinery on her 300-acre ranch outside of Winnsboro, Texas that were tearing down trees to make the way for pipeline construction.

Fairchild, who was joined in her civil disobedience by actress and activist Darryl Hannah, explained her actions in a video saying:

Get off my land.† Period.† I donít want tar sands anywhere in the United States. I am mad.† This land is my land. Itís been our land since í83, our home is on it.† They are going to destroy the woods, and also they could destroy the springs.† Itís devastating, but it also is not very good to have tar sands anywhere in the United States.† This is not just about my land, itís about all of our country.† It needs to be stopped.

Watch it:

At issue is the power of eminent domain, which allows the government to seize (for fair compensation) private property without the consent of the owner for projects considered to be for the public use or benefit.† Steve Mufson of the Washington Post reported earlier this summer that:

The vast majority of landowners have signed agreements with TransCanada, the pipeline owner. But where necessary, the Calgary, Alberta-based company is busy going to state courts to exercise eminent domain and lining up rights to cross properties throughout the Great Plains

While eminent domain and the laws and statutes surrounding it are complicated, the Keystone XL situation in Texas has come down to whether the pipeline is a common carrier of oil (giving it the right to eminent domain) or a private project (meaning that the company would have to negotiate individually with landowners).† Just recently, a judge ruled in favor of TransCanada and granted it eminent domain.† As Fairchild refused to sell any of her land to TransCanada and did not sign any contracts, the company was able to use eminent domain and legally have her arrested for trespassing on her own land.

The Washington Post described TransCanadaís general attitude towards landowners fighting pipeline by quoting one of the companyís lawyers who said:

We are not going to have one landowner hold up a multibillion-dollar project that is going to be for the benefit of the public.

The Keystone XL pipeline consists of three legs.† The northern and most well-known portion runs from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, and it remains under additional review by the U.S. Department of State because landowners in Nebraska raised serious concerns about its impacts on the Ogallala Aquifer.† Construction on the southernmost leg began in August (President Obama directed his administration to ďmake this project a priorityĒ in March), and a middle leg that is already online runs from Steele City to Cushing.

In addition to Fairchild and Hannahís arrests, currently a handful of protestors are camped out in a tree house in the path of the pipeline construction.† And protestors have been arrested after chaining themselves to heavy machinery over the last few weeks.

This post was originally published by Climate Progress.


Related Stories:

5 Ways the GOP’s New Platform Fails the Environment

Keystone XL, the Bad Boyfriend We Can’t Shake

Obama OKs Texas Portion of Keystone XL Pipeline


Photo of Daryl Hannah and Eleanor Fairchild attempting to stop construction on Fairchild's land from the above video


Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak5 years ago

This land was STOLEN by the government to install a pipeline for the BIG OIL companies. This is one area where I disagree with President Obama. We do not need to help Big Oil. We need to reign them in. Every effort must be taken to get the WORLD off burning oil and methane for energy. We have the technology to go green. Germany has done so well that they no longer give tax incentives for solar and wind. They are closing every nuke power plant in the country, there is so much green energy. If they can do it, so can the US.

Julia W.
Julia W5 years ago

Eminent domain has been used everywhere to quash landowner's rights for the benefit of large corporations-not it's intended use of doing something clearly in the best interest of the public. This project, Tar Sands , is not in the best interest of the public in my opinion and in the opinion of the majority of the "public" that I know. We seem to be living in the United States of Corporations rather than the United States of America. Kudos to this woman and to Daryl Hannah.

Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay K5 years ago

This sounds plain ludicrous!

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Nils Lunde
PlsNoMessage se5 years ago


Glenda L.
Glenda L5 years ago

Once again, big money wins!! Nice legal system both you in the US and we in Canada have. So much for democracy.

pam w.
pam w5 years ago

eminent domain.

Look it up.

It's been used to create highways, civil projects and other BIG "socially beneficial" constructions for many years.

Hooray for this woman....I hope she gets great legal representation.

(And, by the way, isn't it funny how people will SNEER and make NASTY JOKES about attorneys....until women like this need them? Then....they can be HEROIC!

Penny C.
penny C5 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

This is just crazy.

Steffanie B.
Steffanie Byrnes5 years ago

This is outrageous! It is her land, and if she does not want it drill upon that should be her right! Shame on that judge and the government that allows this! There is no justice in this world! She is an old lady, and they hauled her to jail for protecting her land!?