Eminent Domain – Changing the Landscape

  • October 31, 2015
  • News

“Texas is growing and changing,” said Greg Simons, president of the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA). “More people mean more demands for all types of infrastructure – roads, transmission lines, pipelines, reservoirs, schools and on and on. It all has to go somewhere. In Texas more than 90 percent of the land is privately owned, so in most cases private landowners have to bear the burden.”

Eminent domain is nothing new. Some claim that the earliest known use of eminent domain can be found in the Bible. Massachusetts, during its days as a colony, executed the first provision for compensation for the laying of highways in 1639.

What has changed over time is the scope and frequency of eminent domain activities. Through the years, government has granted more entities the authority to use it, including gas or electric corporations, groundwater conservation districts, and common carrier pipelines.

David K. Langford, vice president emeritus of TWA, said, “When eminent domain got its start, it was governed by elected officials, those who were held responsible by the voters. That’s not the case anymore. In my opinion, the power of eminent domain should only come with public accountability.”

Projects are bigger. For example, the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines designed to carry wind energy from the Panhandle and West Texas to the Metroplex and I-35 Corridor has stretched across almost 3,600 miles to date, impacting thousands of landowners along the way.

Land holdings are smaller, meaning more landowners are potentially in the pathway of any given project. In the Barnett Shale, some suburban residents had to contend with energy pipelines literally in their backyards… Read more from Lands of Texas Magazine