Earlier this year we introduced you to Mike Bishop, the irascible ex-Marine with 20 acres in the path of the Keystone pipeline, just east of Nacogdoches. When we met him, the retired chemist and bio-fuel tinkerer was livid, cataloging the insults to his land -- the 'dozed crops, the clear-cut woods behind his small cabin.
Bishop was about to embark on a legal crusade to stop the the nearly 2,000-mile pipeline connecting the Alberta tar sands mines with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. And he'd do it all pro se, matching wits against some of the best lawyers money can buy. You can imagine how that's gone so far.
Another man might have given up, but Bishop's the kind of guy who doesn't know how to quit. This week, he filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the permit authorizing construction of the southern segment of the pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Port Arthur.
After initially denying the entire project to allow more time to study the environmental impacts, President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the expedited regulatory approval of the southern segment. Bishop's lawsuit argues that the permits, and therefore Obama's order, violate the law by depriving citizens of the right to be heard on a controversial project.
"This was a political expedition," Bishop said when reached Friday afternoon. "And I nailed Obama's ass. Nobody wants to be the one to tell the emperor he has no clothes.
"I just did."
Of course the pipeline is already in the ground beneath his land, but Bishop says it isn't too late.
"They can be running shit through there, but when it stops, it's gonna stop forever. Someone's gonna win this case. We've got two appeals in appelate court concerning whether they're even common carrier," he said, referring to the legal status that would allow a pipeline to take private land using eminent domain.
Bishop says he's going to join a class-action lawsuit soon, filed by landowners in Texas and Oklahoma. He claims they plan to sue TransCanada, the pipeline company, for fraud.
"You gotta stop and ask yourself, if you were a stockholder in a corporation that has this many lawsuits against them and this much controversy associated with a pipeline, I'd be very leery about putting money into this company."
To be sure, TransCanada's stock fell slightly this morning, but that might have more to do with the bad review the State Department got from the EPA for its environmental review. The company announced today that it was pushing back its projected in-service date for the Keystone XL from late 2014 to late 2015.