A county court judge in Nacogdoches, TX, on Thursday dissolved a landowner’s temporary restraining order (TRO) against TransCanada Corp. that attempted to stop construction of the southern portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada.

The judge set a hearing to consider a permanent injunction for Dec. 19. A counter suit filed by TransCanada is scheduled to be heard the same day.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said a Houston-based TransCanada spokesperson, noting that the judge has to rule on plaintiff Michael Bishop’s request for a permanent injunction against the Calgary, Alberta-based pipeline company. “We remain confident that our interpretation of the Texas statutes is the right one.”

In its counter suit, TransCanada alleges that Bishop is in violation of lease agreements he signed with the company. “He can’t claim to be defrauded when he had his attorney with him, agreed to the easement [on his 20 acres of farmland], took money from us, and then a little more than a week later he filed suit against us,” the spokesman said.

While TransCanada faces other legal action against the pipeline project in Texas, this is the first substantive matter before a judge that potentially could halt the project. Most of the legal action is by individuals seeking more money for their leases.

Earlier this month Bishop won a county court-ordered TRO (see Shale DailyDec. 12) on part of the Keystone southern portion for which work is ongoing in three segments between Cushing, OK, and the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Nacogdoches County Court Judge Jack Sinz removed the TRO Thursday.

Bishop said he signed an agreement “under coercion and duress” and after TransCanada took him to court to enforce eminent domain rights for gaining a pipeline easement. The focus of Bishop’s fight with TransCanada is that allegedly the pipeline is not going to be moving crude oil, but instead will be transporting diluted bitumen, or oil sands, which allegedly poses specific environmental hazards.