...unless your name is Big Oil.
Rep. Kristi Noem and her House colleagues approved H.R. 1433, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, on a voice vote last week. The bill includes this encouraging language on the sense of Congress that eminent domain is a grave threat to rural America (emphasis mine):
SEC. 8. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING RURAL AMERICA.
(a) Findings- The Congress finds the following:
- The founders realized the fundamental importance of property rights when they codified the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which requires that private property shall not be taken "˜for public use, without just compensation'.
- Rural lands are unique in that they are not traditionally considered high tax revenue-generating properties for State and local governments. In addition, farmland and forest land owners need to have long-term certainty regarding their property rights in order to make the investment decisions to commit land to these uses.
- Ownership rights in rural land are fundamental building blocks for our Nation's agriculture industry, which continues to be one of the most important economic sectors of our economy.
- In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London, abuse of eminent domain is a threat to the property rights of all private property owners, including rural land owners.
One of the key selling points District 8 Senator Russell Olson likes to make in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline is that TransCanada is now generating all this wonderful tax revenue with Keystone 1 in eastern South Dakota that we couldn't get from mere farmers. By supporting HR 1433, Rep. Kristi Noem, next to whom Russ was so pleased to sit when she visited Pierre that he hasn't recovered enough to post any more updates on his Facebook page since Feb. 21, apparently disagrees with the absolute goodness of a pipeline built by a foreign company on eminent domain.
HR 1433 sounds more good notes on why we must protect rural America from profit-driven eminent domain (again, with my emphasis):
(b) Sense of Congress- It is the sense of Congress that the use of eminent domain for the purpose of economic development is a threat to agricultural and other property in rural America and that the Congress should protect the property rights of Americans, including those who reside in rural areas. Property rights are central to liberty in this country and to our economy. The use of eminent domain to take farmland and other rural property for economic development threatens liberty, rural economies, and the economy of the United States. The taking of farmland and rural property will have a direct impact on existing irrigation and reclamation projects. Furthermore, the use of eminent domain to take rural private property for private commercial uses will force increasing numbers of activities from private property onto this Nation's public lands, including its National forests, National parks and wildlife refuges. This increase can overburden the infrastructure of these lands, reducing the enjoyment of such lands for all citizens. Americans should not have to fear the government's taking their homes, farms, or businesses to give to other persons. Governments should not abuse the power of eminent domain to force rural property owners from their land in order to develop rural land into industrial and commercial property. Congress has a duty to protect the property rights of rural Americans in the face of eminent domain abuse.
Now if only Rep. Noem and her colleagues were serious about protecting South Dakota farmland from the predations of Canadian oil profiteers. Section 9.1.A.iv specifically excludes pipelines from the uses of eminent domain prohibited by statute. In other words, Rep. Noem's Big Oil donors are welcome to continue threatening liberty and rural economies for their own profit.