TransCanada taking pipeline protesters to court

FRANKLIN COUNTY (KYTX) -- Protesters in the construction zone for TransCanada's tar sands pipeline will have to explain themselves to a judge. The company is petitioning for a restraining order against them, which comes just as another protest is popping up in Franklin County.

You have to go off the beaten path at the West End Nature Preserve to get there, and once you do, it's easy to miss the tiny platform Kevin Redding is calling home.

"I am sitting 80 feet high in a tree," Kevin Redding said.

Even Redding himself finds it a little strange being confined to just 32 square feet.

"I don't really feel like I'm giving all that much up, other than being able to walk on the ground," Redding said. "But who knows how long it will be before I get back down there?"

He watched from a distance--from Austin, actually--as protesters took over tree tops in Winnsoboro. Now Redding is hoping that the platform he clings to 24/7 will save not only him, but the wildlife preserve around him. He's not sure whether the workers want to knock down his specific tree to begin with.

"Not necessarily, but the trees that I'm tied into, yeah," he said. "And if they aren't taking down trees, under-boring underneath this with someone up in a tree is still fairly dangerous."

Half a mile away, the miles of pipe and the humming of diesel engines are a reminder that Redding is up against something much bigger than he is.

"This is another instance of trespass on TransCanada's legally constituted right of way," TransCanada spokesperson David Dodson said. "And, you know, individuals have a right to expression, but they don't have a right to break the law."

Even though Redding is not named in court documents he could soon be added to a list of people against whom TransCanada is seeking a temporary restraining order. Eventually a Wood County judge will decide whether to permanently bar a list of protesters from TransCanada's land.

It's unclear how large of an area the judge's ruling would impact.

"The hearing associated with the permanent injunction is the activists' day in court," Dodson said. "They'll have the opportunity to explain to a judge why they're trespassing."

Dodson said TransCanada doesn't want anyone on either side hurt, meaning Redding is probably safe for the time being.

"I'm at a point in my life where I actually can participate in this and take these risks when a lot of people can't," he said. "And, as someone who's concerned and cares, I say just go for it."

TransCanada and the protesters they're taking to court will be in front of a Wood County judge on October 22.


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