Monday, July 10, 2017

What No One Brings Up In The Pipeline Debates

Or at least no one in the mainstream. There the contention seems to be between the environment and jobs. What most people pass over is property rights, which are gradually being suppressed by multi-national corporations and governments at every level. In Pennsylvania, a new pipeline battle between landowners and SUNOCO, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, has arisen. The contention is over the Mariner East II Pipeline: a 350 mile natural gas pipeline running west to east from the Marcellus shale formation in West Virginia and Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near the Delaware border. Landowners victimized by the company have voiced their grievances before the commonwealth court to no avail. The company's 'right' to rob private citizen's of their property in furtherance of their own profit, for a use that the landowners themselves will have no chance to benefit from, has been upheld as a legitimate use of eminent domain.

Ralph and Doris Blume are farmers in Newville, Pennsylvania who will lose some of their land to SUNOCO for the pipeline easement. Aside from removing trees, the company also plans to destroy their hay shed, which sits on the pipeline's projected path. The fact that one business may be allowed to rob another business of part of its capital by court order just shows how much our republic has been perverted by lobbyists and their lackeys in office. The Gerharts' land in Union Township is under a similar threat from SUNOCO although they have resisted the court ordered robbery by setting up camp and inviting protestors to occupy the projected pipeline route, which is about 200 feet from their house. They have even been arrested for trespassing on their own property.

The company claims that most landowners sold their land 'voluntarily', which is clearly a lie. If it was voluntary, landowners would have the choice not to give up their land for the pipeline easement; either way they have to sell and they don't get to negotiate compensation. The most likely explanation is that these landowners knew they couldn't win in court. The company was given the power eminent domain under the specious pretext that they would provide a public utility; of course, this like their earlier claim is also false. At least some of the natural gas liquids transported through the pipeline will be shipped to Europe through the Marcus Hook refinery, which is in fact a port on the Delaware river that eventually flows into the Atlantic ocean. A company spokesman claimed the pipeline would transport ethane to the power generation facility in Cambria County that is slated to be operational by 2019. However, that facility is the CPV Fairview Energy Center, which is a primarily methane facility that will receive gas from the Spectra/TETCO pipeline owned by a completely different company. Even if their claim to provide a 'public utility' wasn't a lie, it still wouldn't stand to reason that they should be allowed to use eminent domain in counties that won't even receive the service they are providing. The Gerharts live in Huntingdon county, Ralph and Doris Blume live in Cumberland county, and most landowners along the route also don't live in Cambria county and neither do their neighbors. At least when the state uses eminent domain to build a road or an actual utility company uses it to put in power lines the people within that county, including the landowners, receive the benefit of that service.

Providing a public utility isn't even requisite to use eminent domain anyway. Ever since the Kelo decision, the vague appeal to 'economic development' is all a corporation needs to take property from private citizens, even if they don't actually produce anything afterwards. The weakening of property rights is a dangerous habit that if carried to its fullest extent will lead to the decline of civilization itself, which it is fundamental too on par with language and culture. The founding fathers recognized this fact and so enshrined property right protections into the Constitution. As a matter of fact, four out of the ten amendments that make up the bill of rights deal with property rights (I,III,IV, and V amendments).

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