Alliance Lobbying For Eminent Domain Limits

Greenville, Iowa — One of the bills still pending in the Iowa Legislature would limit the use of eminent domain authority to acquire property for the Rock Island Clean Line wind energy powerline and the Dakota Access Bakken crude oil pipeline, which are planned in northwest Iowa.
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If the bill becomes law, developers of the pipeline and the powerline would have to get voluntary property rights agreements from 75 percent of landowners before they could use eminent domain to seize the rest of the land. Carolyn Sheridan, a farmer from Greenville, which is near Spencer, founded the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance a couple of years ago to lobby against the Rock Island Clean Line. She says the effort to limit eminent domain authority is gaining steam because now there are two projects.

(as said) “Bipartisan support comes now because there are 17 additional counties in the state that would be impacted by the pipeline, the Bakken pipeline, and the same process will be used, eminent domain, to take private property,” Sheridan says. “The legislators have gotten together and are trying to change some outdated laws.”

The 2015 legislative session is winding down, though — perhaps concluding later this month, and Sheridan’s group is hoping this bill gets debated in the House and Senate.

(as said) “So we’re busy contacting legislators, making sure they have the facts,” Sheridan says. “There’s lobbyists working for us because when things move quickly in the House and Senate, part of the trouble can be getting good information out, making sure people have good background information.”

The bill Sheridan’s group supports cleared a senate committee earlier this week. Lobbyists for the two energy projects say it would be wrong for legislators to make “retroactive” changes to eminent domain authority since developers have been following existing law as they’ve been planning the projects. The governor’s former chief of staff is a lobbyist for the pipeline developers. Last year the governor’s economic development director embraced the Rock Island Clean Line project, saying it’s “an important infrastructure project that needs to occur.”

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