Pipelines and their Evil Enabler: Eminent Domain Abuse

Pipelines and their Evil Enabler: Eminent Domain Abuse

Posted Sunday, January 22, 2017

By Fenly Foxen

Photo credit: OilPrice.com

Last year saw pipeline ventures come to the forefront, with raucous opposition from environmentalists and landowners.

All eyes were on the Dakota access pipeline (DAPL). It made headlines around the world as environmentalists took an aggressive stance against it. Opposition to DAPL, led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe asserts that the North-Dakota-to-Illinois pipeline could contaminate its water supply. The tribe's land ends about a half mile from the disputed part of the route.

Another project is the Keystone XL pipeline. This proposed pipeline would have stretched nearly 1,200 miles across six U.S. states, moving more than 800,000 barrels of carbon-heavy petroleum daily from Canadian oil sands through Nebraska to refineries in the Gulf Coast.

Even in Georgia, while we were able to stop the Palmetto Pipeline in eastern Georgia last year, eminent domain is being used to drive the Sabal Trail Pipeline through southwest Georgia.

Lax eminent domain policies enable pipeline companies to plow forward, somewhat with impunity. Eminent domain is the governmental power to take private property for public use in return for fair-market compensation. The government usually uses eminent domain to build bridges or freeways, projects that benefit the local communities.

However, in the case of pipeline, the community impacted is almost never who benefits. Instead, landowners are subject to what amounts to a taking of their rights as landowners. Unlike bridges and roads, pipelines confiscate the use of the land, but landowners are are still taxed on their ownership of it. Imagine being forced to surrender a portion of your backyard so an out-of-state corporation can move millions of cubic feet of highly explosive gas through it, and being forced to insure that land for them and pay the property taxes.

The constitutional right to private property must be protected. DAPL and Keystone XL are two of the many pipeline projects in the US that have riled up environmentalists and landowners. Unfortunately, the recent wave of pipeline investment pitting landowners against corporations and regulators in large numbers is likely to grow.

The Trump administration stands ready to give the green light to both pipeline projects.\

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