On a recent afternoon in mid-April, hundreds of Missourians rallied at the Missouri State Capitol to urge the legislature to protect their property rights. The rally was sparked by an egregious abuse of eminent domain in northern Missouri.
Several years ago, a group of investors announced plans to build a high-voltage wind energy transmission line from western Kansas to Indiana. They named this proposed “merchant transmission line” the Grain Belt Express.
Then the project changed hands. Like the first proprietors, the new company planned to build the Grain Belt Express to transmit power from one place to another to sell it for a profit, not to provide utility service to end-users. To facilitate construction, they sought permission from the government to use eminent domain to take land against the owners’ will.
Grain Belt’s request was based on strained arguments that the company was somehow a “utility.” After a long battle and more than one denial, the state’s Public Service Commission granted eminent domain power to build the line.
The decision outraged landowners. They correctly argued eminent domain should only be used for necessary public services like roads, schools and utilities.
The operators plan to buy wind power from private wind farms and sell it to actual utility companies for profit. In short, this is a moneymaking venture, not a public service – and it’s wrong to force people to sell their land for a private project that doesn’t really benefit Missourians.
Using eminent domain in this way sets a very dangerous precedent and, arguably, makes it easier for our state to become the transmission superhighway for the Green New Deal. If you agree that property rights should not be for sale to the highest bidder, contact your senator today.
Urge them to vote for eminent domain reform to protect Missouri property rights. If this abuse is not stopped today, it could be your farm they come for tomorrow.
— Garrett Hawkins, president
of Missouri Farm Bureau