Monthly Archives: April 2013

Eminent Domain and The Keystone Pipeline

Get ready for the next great land grab! You might be surprised at the beneficiary and the accomplice.

The beneficiary is none other than Canada, our unassuming large friend to the north.  While not actually Canada itself,  the Canadian company TransCanada is looking to put up a nice tidy oil pipeline through the heartland of the United States. Based in Alberta, this corporation wants to build the next leg of the Keystone pipeline, extending thousands of miles south of the border to Texas. Once President Obama signs the appropriate paperwork, all they have to do is acquire the land and start digging.

But who does the land belong to, and how does the Government acquire such land? The answer is eminent domain. How does a foreign corporation acquire land that absolutely does not belong to it? It uses the American Government to manipulate the meaning of the Constitution and Natural Law, so the answer is still eminent domain.

Imagine a scenario where the humble Canadian businessman knocks on your door. He seems like a nice guy, but alongside him is his hired muscle the American Government. The frowning accomplice offers you a sum for which he thinks your property is worth, lettuce garden and all. He demands to buy your land and hand it over to his friend the Canadian businessman because there is some money to be made for everyone. Do you feel resistant? It’s for your own good, Citizen. The common good.

There may be valid arguments for eminent domain, as the practice is an inherent attribute of state sovereignty. Whether the state is Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, or the Federal Government, they all lay some claim to this privilege. However, Canada should not be in a position to meddle in the middle of Oklahoma.

The Constitution and judicial precedent lay the groundwork for ways in which the government may take the land of a private citizen; providing there is just compensation, and that the land be used for the common good. Over the years, the Fifth Amendment and the common good has become such a broadly interpreted position that it is now good enough that one person simply wants the land because the grass is greener there and everyone should be able to enjoy green grass. They do not recognize that if the owner does not want to sell, no matter the end use, eminent domain simply is theft by force.

With abuses such as this proposed land grab in their pocket, the interpretive ponderings of the American Government toward the use of eminent domain may grow deeper and wider than previously imagined. The Government can take your property away from you and give it to a corporation in another country. We’re not talking about building an irrigation ditch so local farmers have access to nearby river water. We’re not talking about tearing down dangerous slums to build a tree-filled city park. We’re not even talking about building a strip mall to liven up the neighborhood to attract more consumers with fat wallets. This is a situation where a company in Canada can lay a pipe through your lettuce garden to make it easier to move oil.

When a government feels entitled to take what does not belong to it, it can succeed through politics, strong marketing, and fear. We’ve heard about “the public good.” Now we’re hearing cries for “critical energy security,” and “strengthening the American economy.” Other excuses include the claim that someone else will build it if we don’t, and that we’re being as careful as anyone possibly can be, and that the construction of the pipeline is a job creating extravaganza! Who could be against that?

This is not to say foreign individuals or companies should not buy property in this country, but only that they should not benefit from the use of eminent domain. A private company should negotiate with individual land owners to purchase the properties with free will exercised on both sides.

There is plenty of pipe already in the ground. It carries oil to every conceivable corner of the country. This particular pipe is enjoying fifteen minutes of fame as it violates our natural rights for the sake of the common good. Sure hope it doesn’t leak.