Watch out, here comes the pipeline

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.


4 thoughts on “Watch out, here comes the pipeline

  1. I’m not going to lie, before I read this I had no idea that this goes on. It seems absolutely ridiculous a. because you’d think that TransCanada is profitable enough to pay the property holders for rights to the land and b. because it’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL. duh.

  2. How is it possible that TransCanada use eminent domain authority? I think only the State or the Federal government can use it to take over the property for public use. And it’s almost hilarious that a private gas pipeline passed both tests unless it is subsidized by the government to meet the demands of specific regions.

  3. Beyond just the eminent domain claims, there are a TON of environmental issues associated with this. One of the arguments for the pipeline is that it’ll help decrease our dependency on foreign oil, but I strongly feel that the cons outweigh the pros on this one.

  4. Beyond the issue of just the pipeline or public or private use, I think it is a slippery slope altogether to let the government just simply take ones property. I view that as an infringement of our rights as people. If anything, thinking philosophically, government is formed to protect us from people taking our stuff not to just take it itself. I have no issue if TransCanada or the government is willing to pay what it takes for people to sell them the land, but I very much doubt that is what is going on.

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