December 3, 2015

Eminent Domain Not A New Concept

In a recent opinion piece published in the Lebanon Daily News, Dr. Jack Rafuse, a former White House energy adviser and current principal of the Rafuse Organization discussed the select use of eminent domain for key infrastructure projects. “For such vital infrastructure, it’s important to find that balance between private property rights and the benefits delivered to state and regional communities,” Refuse writes, “In some cases, with restraint and as intended by law, the eminent domain process can provide that balance.”

Defining infrastructure projects dating back to the Transcontinental Railroad, Erie Canal, and Golden Gate Bridge would not have been possible without the ability to utilize private land to deliver essential public services. “From roads to schools, airports to water and sewer lines, examples of infrastructure built through the select use of eminent domain are everywhere,” Rafuse explains.

Eminent domain is not a tool solely reserved for government and public works projects, but is also granted to private companies that contribute significantly to our local, state, and national infrastructure investments. We would not have power in our homes, cable on our TVs, or reception on our cell phones without the powers of eminent domain. That said, private companies go to great lengths to reach agreements with landowners and view legal action as a last resort option.

“There are extensive requirements for companies to make good-faith efforts to reach agreement with landowners, but it is inevitable that eminent domain will come into play with projects that cover long distances involving many properties,” Rafuse says.

The reliable supply of affordable natural gas has become a critical component to powering our economy, but the benefits of this valuable resource can’t be realized without pipeline infrastructure. Projects like the Rover Pipeline will bring an abundance of public good to our region and it would be unfair to let a few individuals sideline an investment of this magnitude.

We invite you to read Dr. Rafuse’s complete opinion piece here.