The US House has voted to block the use of eminent domain for private interests – with one huge loophole exception – the Keystone XL Pipeline. The bill is intended to block the use of eminent domain for private development – most notoriously for sports stadiums that are financed with industrial revenue bonds and built for one team who can use the power of eminent domain to condemn land for the site. But there’s a catch: the exemption for a private Canadian pipeline company. . .
Eminent Domain Authority – Passage – Vote Passed (353-65, 12 Not Voting)
The House passed a bill Wednesday that would withhold federal economic development funds, for two fiscal years, from states and localities that seize property for private economic development using eminent domain. The bill would also allow landowners to sue if state or local governments wrongfully take their property in such situations.
The only lawmaker to voice opposition to the legislation was Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. He said that since the Kelo decision more than 40 states have taken steps to amend their eminent domain laws to prevent abuses and “Congress should not now come charging in after seven years of work and presume to sit as a national zoning board.”
He also noted that the bill exempts the Keystone XL pipeline from the eminent domain restrictions. That’s the project that a Canadian company wants to build from Canada to Texas. President Barack Obama has rejected the pipeline, pending further review, but congressional Republicans have pushed hard for its construction.
So this was a backdoor way for the Republicans to enable a private Canadian pipeline company to try and use eminent domain to condemn right of way. At least two state courts – one in Nebraska and one in Texas– have blocked Keystone from condemning land in those states under eminent domain.
If this House bill became law with that exemption, a private Canadian company would be granted eminent domain authority – as if it were a public utility. No eminent domain for private gain – especially for Cannucks with friends in Congress . . .