Eminent domain is the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property. In layman’s terms, it is when people are kicked off of the land they own and paid for it by an organization.
The Keystone Pipeline is a pipeline system that transfers crude oil from the sands in Northeast Canada to multiple destinations in the United States (Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas). The issue is, that many landowners are in the path of this pipeline. These landowners have complained about receiving threats from TransCanada to confiscate their private land. They have also been threatened with lawsuits to allow the pipeline on their property. The project has yet to receive federal approval, and TransCanada has had over thirty eminent domain actions against landowners in Texas.
Eminent domain has enabled TransCanada to trample the property rights of landowners in America. It was never supposed to be used in order to take away a person’s property for private use. What is unclear is whether the claim of eminent domain authority meets the public carrier and public use tests. Many critics believe the eminent domain claims are merely used to help increase the profit of the company, TransCanada. TransCanada claims that it passes both tests because it carries oil owned by other companies, with whom it has delivery contracts. They also say that the oil they deliver will help meet America’s need for energy.
In my opinion, whether or not legislature grants TransCanada the right to carry on with their pipeline activities is irrelevant. The constitutional rule that there shall be no taking of property for private use should be the deciding factor. In general, it just seems unfair and unjust for a person or family to be forced to leave their land so a company can increase the flow of a product and profit, no matter how useful this products, in this case oil, may be. It is also unethical to force people out of their homes and buildings.