Ongoing resistance and confrontations over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline have reportedly sparked the detainment of two journalists in Texas this week. The news comes on the heels of other clashes between environmental protesters, law enforcement and security workers.
Following allegations of aggressive tactics by Texas law enforcement and the arrests of actress Daryl Hannah and a 78-year-old landowner, reports have surfaced that a reporter working for the The New York Times and a photographer were detained by security officials representing the pipeline's builder, Alberta-based energy company TransCanada.
Reporter Dan Frosch and photographer Brandon Thibodeaux were covering the pipeline protest from private property, with the landowner's permission, according to FuelFix. They were detained by "a private security worker and a law enforcement official," but subsequently released after identifying themselves as members of the press.
Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told the site, “They were released and told that they were risking arrest for trespassing if they stayed where they were, so they left the location."
According to NPR's StateImpact project, Murphy said, "We obviously don’t want to be in a position where our reporters are facing arrest.”
TransCanada is using easements to construct its oil sands pipeline through areas of private property in the central U.S. FuelFix reported, "TransCanada could not immediately be reached to answer questions about the incident, but in an email a spokesman implied that the journalists did not have the right to report where they were because they were on the company’s right of way for pipeline construction."
Tar Sands Blockade, a coalition of landowners and climate activists opposing the pipeline, said in a statement:
These events mark the latest in a series in which journalists and the Constitutional ideal of a free press suffer the same disrespect and abuse that TransCanada has shown to families along the Keystone XL pipeline route for years. Reports have included open threats of arrest on private property, the confiscation of cameras and video equipment, and arrests of by-standers on public right of ways. All the while, questions linger regarding the legality of policing the Keystone XL pipeline easement in this way.
Last month, Tar Sands Blockade released a video showing a logging machine in a Texas forest dropping a tree perilously close to a pipeline protester , reported The Huffington Post's Matt Sledge. Although the protesters admit that they were on the site without permission, one of them told HuffPost that TransCanada "would [normally] cease their operations when there were protesters in the area."
In August, a Texas judge sided against a landowner, ruling that "the pipeline would be a common carrier and that TransCanada has eminent domain rights to right of way across the [northeast Texas] farm," reported AP.