Actress Daryl Hannah Arrested in Texas in Anti-Keystone XL Pipeline Protest

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According to the Associated Press, actress Daryl Hannah, famous for roles in films such as "Splash," "Bladerunner," and "Kill Bill" was arrested in the East Texas town of Winnsboro protesting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Hannah attempted to physically block construction equipment

According to a Reuters account of the incident, Hannah, accompanied by a 78-year-old landowner named Eleanor Fairchild, whose land was taken through eminent domain for the project, attempted to physically block earth-moving equipment that was prepared to remove trees and brush in order to facilitate the laying of the pipeline. Hannah and Fairchild were arrested, according to the Associated Press, on the charge of criminal trespassinng. Hannah also faces charges of resisting arrest.

The Keystone XL pipeline

The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has been a political controversy since its first proposal. While President Obama recently approved the construction of a portion of the pipeline from oil storage depots in Cushing, Okla., to refineries in East Texas, the Washington Examiner's Byron York noted in March 2012, that the president still faces withering and bipartisan opposition to his blocking the northern portion of the pipeline. That portion would stretch from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to Cushing, carrying Canadian crude to refineries near Houston. Obama's excuse has been that the pipeline would cross through the environmentally sensitive Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska, even though some lawmakers point out that other pipelines already exist in that area. TransCanada, the company building the pipeline, has reapplied for a permit to build the northern portion of the pipeline bypassing the aquifer. Mitt Romney has vowed that should he be elected president, he would approve the building of the northern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline by executive order.

Property rights vs. the pipeline

The Texas Tribune notes that a number of Texas property owners are protesting the use of eminent domain to allow the pipeline to cross their land, for which they are compensated. For Texas property owners, such as Eleanor Fairchild, the issue appears to be more one of property rights rather than environmental concerns. However, the protesting landowners have an uphill battle since the pipeline, as a public utility, serves a public purpose that is necessary in Texas to invoke eminent domain.

Hannah's involvement

Hannah's concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline seem to stem from her environmental activism. She has been arrested a number of times at environmental protests, including at a West Virginia mining project in the company of NASA scientist and activist James Hansen, according to the Guardian. The Global Post notes that Hannah was arrested at an anti-Keystone XL pipeline protest in Washington in August 2011.

Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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