Texas rancher won't budge for Keystone pipeline

(CBS News) DIRECT, Texas - The Keystone XL pipeline is a massive, controversial oil delivery project cutting through America's heartland. The company behind the project says, if it's completed, it could help reduce America's dependency on foreign oil.

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That pipeline would carry oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. The northern part has not been approved, but the southern stretch is already under construction - except where a few Texas ranchers are standing in the way.

The Keystone XL Pipeline extends two miles a day into Texas, but it can't get past Julia Trigg Crawford.

Construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline
Construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline
CBS News

Crawford has 650 acres of land and TransCanada only wants a small piece, but Crawford won't let them take it.

"I don't think they have a right to take it," she said. "I mean if it was 650 inches or something, I wouldn't want them to take it."

Plans call to bury the oil pipe a quarter-mile upstream from Crawford's creek, which is critical for her livestock and crops. She's worried about a leak. She rejected a $21,000 offer from TransCanada. The company says it's too late to go around Crawford's land, so Transcanada has sued her.

"I just don't believe that a Canadian organization that appears to be building a pipeline for their financial gain has more right to my land than I do," Crawford said.

Henry Duncan
Henry Duncan
CBS News

Most ranchers here, like Henry Duncan, welcomed the pipeline. Duncan lives just across a two-lane country road from Julia Crawford.

He won't say what TransCanada paid him to bury pipeline through his 200 acres, but it's enough to pay his real estate taxes for the next two years.

"I've got one line that's coming across the backside of me and my cattle are eating on top of it, and it's not hurting them any, so I don't see how this can hurt them any," Duncan said.

If TransCanada came to him and said they wanted to put in a second line, Duncan said he'd have no problem complying.

"In a heartbeat, yeah for sure," Duncan said.

Crawford acknowledges that the more she sees the pipeline, "the more it's like the odds are getting longer."

But Crawford promises that, whatever the odds, she's an immovable object: A tall Texas rancher with grit.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.