DIRECT, Tex. – Julia Trigg Crawford, a landowner fighting TransCanada in north Texas, couldn’t be more different from John Harter, the rancher we met in South Dakota. Harter had always worked on the ranch and was a weather-beaten man from whom anger at TransCanada dripped out slowly but steadily. The 6-foot-tall Crawford is a former executive recruiter and Texas A&M basketball player who became farm manager here after her father decided it was time to turn over the reins to her generation. Whereas Harter dispensed with niceties, Crawford served tea and homemade brownies.
But Crawford’s points are similar to Harter’s. TransCanada’s pipeline should be moved or blocked. It doesn’t benefit the places it’s crossing. It shouldn’t get eminent domain powers. It poses an environmental threat. And, in her case, she points to two mounds at the edges of her corn and soybean fields where 21 shallow Native American graves were first found in 1931 and where she says she still finds small fragments of artifacts after heavy rains.
Like Harter, Crawford has been waging a legal battle against TransCanada. She won a temporary restraining order earlier this year, though she lost her effort to block the pipeline on the grounds of Indian remains. But she said that the Texas Supreme Court in the past has put the burden of proof on companies like TransCanada to show that a project is necessary and its location in a particular place is necessary.
Crawford has received a lot of attention. A 9,000-word article in a Texas newspaper. Articles in national publications. Has she become a giant media event?
“We didn’t start this to be a lightning rod,” she said. “If you have to be out front taking all the arrows, you do. We’re Texans. We own the land. We’re proud of it.”
Even if the odds of stopping the pipeline are long, Crawford said, she was applying a lesson learned in college basketball: “You play the whole game even if you’re going to take it in the teeth in the end.”
Besides, this game is for keeps.