"We don't want a 36-inch pipeline pushing toxic substances through our property," said farmland owner David Holland of the Texas Rice Land Partners Wednesday morning.
Holland does not want to hand his property over to Alberta-based TransCanada Corp. so the company can continue building its Keystone Pipeline... At least not for less than the fair market value.
Holland says, "They haven't come close to the market value, what percentage of fair market value should we take? Is 80% enough? What about 60%? 40%? How about 2%? What about 2% of fair market value?"
But TransCanada representative Brant Johnson says it did offer Holland fair market value, stating, "It's part of the process and people will get the chance to have their day in court and we'll let the courts decide."
Protestors held signs supporting Holland.
Ramsey Sprague, a protestor from Fort Worth, said it's sad "a multinational corporation can come in, use the government's right to eminent domain to steal land from land owners who simply don't want to enter a contract with them."
Texas law stipulates eminent domain can only be used in cases that serve the "public good" and TransCanada can only build a pipeline with "common carrier" status.
In this state, a common carrier has broad powers with little oversight.
In this morning's hearing, a TransCanada attorney said it has the legal right to start digging now, but because the landowners are fighting in court, a writ of possession is necessary to seize the property.
The defense said they don't have the right to seize property from anyone.
But TransCanada is confident it will receive the writ of possession.
Company leaders say the company has complied with the law and adopted the standards of any pipeline company.
Holland says, "All I really want is for all the facts to be laid out for all of Texas to see, and Texas can decide."