When Enbridge purchased land for the existing pipelines, Enbridge purchased an 80 foot easement in most cases. For each additional pipeline since the first one, most landowners have not sold additional land. Now, that 80-foot easement is full.
Enbridge will need to purchase additional easements and will begin approaching landowners soon. Landowners are building an alliance to have a united opposition to Enbridge as they begin knocking.
Landowners in central Wisconsin have banded together to create 80 Feet is Enough! a landowner group working to tell Enbridge that 80 feet of their land is plenty. You can learn more about the group here.
Please contact us if you are a landowner who has been approached by Enbridge and would like to learn more about ways to get involved.
Landowners across Wisconsin are teaming up together to hire an attorney to represent them collectively about terms when negotiating with Enbridge. Learn more here.
Check out some of the news stories here:
- Marshfield area couple takes stand for property rights
- Nebraska Lawyer to Fight State Pipeline
- Landowners Seek Pipeline Information
If you are negotiating with Enbridge, here are some helpful resources:
- 25 Things to Consider before Signing an Easement
- This Land Is My Land-one landowner’s story
- Landowner’s Guide to Pipelines– Pipeline Safety Trust
Unfortunately, it will be a little harder to fight Enbridge. Last year, a change in Wisconsin’s law expanded eminent domain authority, making any ‘business entity’ able to seek approval to take private land. Drafting documents show that Enbridge was behind the change.
This means that a foreign company, like Enbridge, could take a Wisconsin resident’s land, with no public benefit, for its private gain.
Many have questioned whether this is in-line with the original intent of the eminent domain law.
Property Rights have their root in the Constitution
The 5th Amendment of the Constitution states: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”.
Article 1 of Wisconsin’s constitution says something similar in the ‘Takings Clause’.
In the 5-4 Kelo v New London decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, CT could use eminent domain to take 15 homes for the purpose of ‘economic development’.
The waterfront property was to be taken and given to Pfizer for the construction of a $300 million research facility, setting a precedent for eminent domain to be used for private gain. Incredibly, despite this ruling, the project was never actually built. Pfizer pulled out of the project. The neighborhood that was destroyed has been left vacant.
The Supreme Court has not reconsidered this issue since the decision. There have been many attempts by Congressional members (including Wisconsin’s Congressman Sensenbrenner) to change this, but none have become law.
Across the Country, there has been some movement to change these laws, including:
- North Carolina: a constitutional amendment has been proposed that would prohibit eminent domain from being used for anything that is not a ‘public use’.
- South Carolina: the legislature passed (89-3 in the state House) a 3-year moratorium on using eminent domain for oil pipelines
- Iowa: legislation was proposed that offered some eminent domain protections, including a require that 75% of landowners have voluntarily signed-up for a project before eminent domain can be used for a pipeline