Is A Pipeline For Export-Gas “A Public Good”?
December 8, 2020
Landowners in Oregon are appealing a Trump administration decision in a case that raises a fundamental question regarding how and when eminent domain can be invoked to take private land. A Canadian company wants to run a natural gas pipeline under the landowner’s property, in a project that was rejected by the Obama administration but resurrected under Trump. Now the land owners are suing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that approved it. Critics, notably Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, say that under President Trump the agency has been stacked in favor of industry. The stickler in this case is that when the project was first broached its purpose was to carry imported liquified natural gas (LPN) from an Oregon terminal at Coos Bay down to California, and proponents could argue that was “a public good” because the product was needed for domestic purposes. Since then the nation’s energy equation has been transformed, and now the plan is for the pipeline to carry gas the other direction, to the Oregon port for export. The case will be heard in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2021.
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