Dealing Honestly with Issue of Eminent Domain for Pipelines

Life is messy and complex. Nowhere is that more true than with the issue of using eminent domain to “condemn” a property, forcing the landowner to allow a pipeline company to cross the property with a decades-long (often extending past the lifetime of the current landowner) lease on the land. Sometimes landowners just don’t want a pipeline. We get it. MDN’s extended family owns rural property (a small farm), so we understand the objections. What if you plan to one day build a new barn in an area where a pipeline is set to run? No can-do. However, pipelines that cross a field or a pasture are (mostly) fine–you can grow back hay and grass and a few years after a pipeline is in the ground, you have use of that land again. You can even plant crops over top of a pipeline. Even though the presence of a pipeline can yield a number of benefits, money for the landowner being the chief benefit, there are drawbacks. But let’s put a different hat on. What if 9 out of 10 landowners along a pipeline’s route in a particular town have signed and welcome the pipeline, but one landowner smack in the middle of the others objects? And what if there’s no feasible re-routing to be done? Should the 9 suffer because of the actions of the one? Tough question. And what about all of the people who will benefit from the gas flowing through the pipeline? Should they suffer because one landowner objects? Again, tough question. For us, property rights are sacrosanct. You don’t tell me I can’t allow a pipeline or drilling–and I don’t tell you that you must allow it. What’s fair is fair. How do we resolve these issues?…

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