Whitewright landowner makes arguments against Seaway Pipeline

By: Allison Harris Email
By: Allison Harris Email

SHERMAN, TEXAS -- A Whitewright landowner appeared for a condemnation hearing today in a case that has many other landowners watching.

He's making arguments against the proposed Seaway Pipeline, which would pass through his property on its way from Cushing, Oklahoma to the gulf.

Jim Hebert is accusing the companies building the pipeline, Enterprise Products Partners and Enbridge Inc., of appraising his property inaccurately, offering him less money than it's worth.

He's one man taking on these companies by himself, serving as his own attorney.

Today's four hour hearing in Sherman got heated when Jim Hebert cross examined the man who he says appraised his property incorrectly. Hebert says he appraised it as rural land, not rural and residential.

"What he did is he went and got vacant land to compare it to my land, which is 5 acres that he wants to take," Hebert said.

The appraiser, Randy Seale, says he compared Hebert's 82 acres south of Highway 11 to market value, giving it a price of $3,500 per acre.

Hebert argues it should be closer to $30,000 an acre.

"They play hardball. They don't care about people and they have the money, they have the lawyers, they have the appraisers," Hebert said.

"Often times, these small land owners, they can't afford high profile eminent domain attorneys," Public Citizen Consultant Rita Beving said.

Beving testified on behalf of Hebert today and has represented various landowners who are fighting pipelines.

She says landowners are often forced to take a back seat and go through condemnation hearings, like this one, before receiving specific information about pipelines.

"I support little guys like this Vietnam veteran whose 82 acre property is being bifurcated by a pipeline," Beving said.

The hearing ended with a $41,000 dollar settlement, which Hebert says he'll appeal.

"They say that he who has the gold rules, and they're trying to do that, and they're trying to do that with me," Hebert said.

Enterprise Products Partners released this statement to News 12 last week, saying, "Our approach is to make sure that we start off on the right foot and that we treat all of our landowners with dignity."

There is also concern among opponents that this pipeline could carry tar sands, which some say are more toxic than crude oil, but Enterprise Products Partners says it's crude oil that would be transported through the Seaway Pipeline.


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