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Friday, December 18, 2009

MDL Publisher Sends Mixed Messages on Eminent Domain

Madison Daily Leader publisher Jon Hunter still "lives with his contradictions intact." In his Tuesday editorial, Hunter lauds Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for her sponsorship of H.R. 4288, legislation intended to negate the ills of the 2005 Kelo v. New London decision on eminent domain. Hunter apparently agrees with me that Kelo was one of the worst Supreme Court rulings of the past decade. He cites this press release from SHS:

"The Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London dealt a serious blow to the fundamental rights of the private property owner," said Rep. Herseth Sandlin. "In essence, the ruling means that governments can take your property and give it to someone else for private use. This was a dangerous precedent when the case was first decided and it remains a dangerous precedent that deserves congressional action" [quoted in Jon Hunter, "Property Rights Would Regain Some Stature If Bill Passes," Madison Daily Leader, 2009.12.15].

What Hunter fails to explain—and what would make an interesting follow-up editorial, or a discussion in the comment section beneath his editorials, if his newspaper website had one—is how his apparent revulsion at the prospect of eminent domain fits with his expression of support of the Keystone pipelines. Hunter rejects the use of eminent domain for private use, yet he never mentions TransCanada's resort to eminent domain for the construction of its private pipeline. In his November 23 editorial, he relegates eminent domain to a blithe subordinate clause referring to "challenges with acquiring rights of way."

So which is it, Jon? Is eminent domain for private use always bad? Is it o.k. for Big Oil? Or is it just another meme to signal your allegiance to the big business crowd?

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of energy company projects, private property owners facing the threat of eminent domain quickly learn that they are not standing on a level playing field legally, economically or politically.

    Among other lessons, there is a lot of play in the “just” of “just compensation.” The power of eminent domain brings with it a sense of entitlement. At that point, property owners are merely an obstacle to be swept aside — when, in fact, they possess the key asset coveted by government and the corporation.

    But property owners can fight back. Our two-year battle against Houston-based Spectra Energy which seized our property rights for an underground gas storage field led to the development of a website which has begun to attract whistle blowers inside the energy industry. We are collaborating and helping property owners in many states. For info, visit the site: http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/

    By the way, our new neighbor, Spectra Energy, has received two Notice of Violations for “unlawful conduct” related to emergency shutdowns and emissions at its storage field in Bedford County, PA. Reports of contaminated water supplies are on the rise since they began operations.

    Like Kelo, the ripple effects of eminent domain are never over.


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