FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2015
Maurice A . Thompson
Private Pipeline Companies May Not Immediately Seize Ohioans' Properties
Rampant Eminent Domain Abuse Continues Throughout
Rural Ohio; However, Ohioans Have Legal Defenses
Columbus, OH - The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today moved to counter the aggressive legal actions taken by Texas Eastern Transmission, a private Texas pipeline corporation, against Ohioans Roger and Lana Barack of Belmont County, alongside hundreds of other Ohio landowners.
The Barack family's opposition takes aim at abusive eminent domain practices frequently used by private out-of-state corporations to seize Ohioans property by force, and without legitimate compensation.
More specifically, the 1851 Center's opposition asserts the following:
· Recent federal court decisions reaffirm and revitalize the principle that Congress may not delegate its power, including the power to seize property, to purely private companies: taking of Ohioans property without sufficient government oversight is unconstitutional.
· Government agencies must provide Ohio landowners with notice of any hearings that may result in government permission allowing the seizing of their properties. In this case, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") failed to notify Ohioans of the proceedings affecting their properties.
· Federal approval of a pipeline route does not mean that private pipeline companies may immediately seize Ohioans private property: the Ohio Constitution prevents "quick takings" other than in the case of roads and emergencies. Even with federal approval, pipeline companies must abide by the Ohio Constitution.
"While we fully support energy development in eastern Ohio, that development does not preclude Ohioans' property rights - - through an unholy alliance of government and big business, both state and federal statutes claim to authorize private pipeline companies to take Ohioans property. However, Ohioans should know that even in the case of federally-approved pipelines, they maintain important constitutional rights protecting their property: in many cases, private pipeline companies altogether lack the eminent domain authority they claim to have; and even where such authority may be legitimate, these companies may not immediately seize Ohioan's properties," explained Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center.
"Simply asserting the proper defenses can force pipeline companies to choose a pipeline route that goes around objecting landowners properties, or for enterprising Ohioans, raise offers for their land by hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Section 19, Article I of the Ohio Constitution protects property rights above and beyond the federal baseline protections, forbidding takings that are not for legitimate "public use," and forbidding immediate takings, other than in limited circumstances.
Read the Landowners' Opposition to the Pipeline Company's "Motion for Immediate Possession" HERE.