Friday, February 23, 2007

MinnCan pipeline comments

This was posted as a comment. Since it's so good, I am giving it its own post.

As property owners sharing the suffering and hardships created by the MinnCan pipeline project, we urgently ask that you assist everyone in harms way by actively supporting the “Buy the Farm – Pipeline Act.” MinnCan's crude oil pipeline severely impacts the lives of over 1,000 property owners in Minnesota, by taking their land and offering to pay pennies on the dollar for their property loss. The MinnCan pipeline will bring more than 165,000 barrels of oil per day across these properties, and create a risk of oil spills in our rich agricultural lands. Such a spill happened recently in Little Falls, MN where a different Koch pipeline ruptured spilling more than 134,000 gallons and permanently contaminated the land.

The “Buy the Farm – Pipeline Act” is based directly off an existing statute informally called the “Buy the Farm Act” (Minn.Stat 216E.12). “Buy the Farm” gives property owners the option to require proposers of high-voltage transmission lines to purchase their entire property rather than just an easement. The new law would simply extend this option to land owners that are affected by large crude oil pipelines.

We believe that this is a fair and reasonable option that enhances the rights of property owners who will be negatively impacted on a permanent basis because they were chosen to "Host" the pipeline's route. It will also become a viable tool in every property owner’s toolbox for constructing a fair settlement with the proposer.

This statute is directly inline with the overwhelmingly public support of eminent domain limits. While the recent eminent domain legislation unfortunately did not affect these types of utility takings, the above bill will bring some power back to Minnesota landowners who are impacted by utility development.

Please share this letter with others you know that are being affected by the proposed MinnCan pipeline route. We strongly urge all of those affected or support the property owners in harm's way, to call, email, or write their Representatives (To find out who represents you go to, asking them to bring the " Buy the Farm – Pipeline Act" to the floor. There is power in numbers and the more interest the Representatives receive, the more likely this bill will be heard.

Time is critical and these interests need to be expressed, NOW...They all need to be sent as soon as possible. Thank you for your help in spreading the word and voicing your support!

Proposed Bill:Eminent Domain amendment for Pipeline Facilities
Adapted from MinnStat 216E.12, 2006
Proposed Language

Contiguous land. When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a crude oil pipeline that requires a certificate of need, by eminent domain proceedings, the fee owner, or when applicable, the fee owner with the written consent of the contract for deed vendee, or the contract for deed vendee with the written consent of the fee owner, shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner or vendee wholly owns or has contracted to own in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055. Commercial viability shall be determined without regard to the presence of the utility route or site. The owner or, when applicable, the contract vendee shall have only one such option and may not expand or otherwise modify an election without the consent of the utility. The required acquisition of land pursuant to this subdivision shall be considered an acquisition for a public purpose and for use in the utility's business, for purposes of chapter 117 and section 500.24, respectively; provided that a utility shall divest itself completely of all such lands used for farming or capable of being used for farming not later than the time it can receive the market value paid at the time of acquisition of lands less any diminution in value by reason of the presence of the utility route or site. Upon the owner's election made under this subdivision, the easement interest over and adjacent to the lands designated by the owner to be acquired in fee, sought in the condemnation petition for a right-of-way for a crude oil pipeline which requires a Certificate of Need shall automatically be converted into a fee taking.

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