How to Write an Unbalanced Article

 

The Marysville, Kansas Advocate provides an article in which the Clean Line Transmission Company discussed its Grain Belt Express transmission line through the county. Without giving any thought to logic, the writer simply notes that someone from the transmission company stated there is no damage to the remainder created with transmission lines. Does the article recognize reality at all?  He will have some very upset readers soon enough!

http://www.marysvilleonline.net/articles/2013/03/13/news/doc51408d80128f4499637237.txt

“Based on feedback from local communities, Grain Belt Express is willing to offer Kansas counties a Construction Mitigation Payment to offset the potential costs of additional county services required during construction. This payment will be based on linear miles of line constructed in the county. The Construction Mitigation Payment will be $7,500 per mile. This will be a one-time payment, which will be paid prior to construction as agreed by the county and Grain Belt Express Clean Line,” Lawlor wrote.

He emphasized the project will bring long-term property tax to the county and economic activity during construction.

Lawlor and Ally Smith, also with Clean Line, fielded questions from those in attendance after they answered questions from the commissioners.

“If the line is built here, every farm would lose value. So everyone in the county will have to pay more in taxes,” said Vernita Peeks, Marysville. “Why Marshall County? Why not follow the interstate?”

Lawlor said that the interstate creates a barrier, runs through populated areas and makes construction sites harder to access.

Lawlor said after the meeting that several studies show little to no effect on property values because of transmission.

“If they do, that’s what the payments are for,” he said.

Clean Line officials say they will make payments of “fair market value” to property owners on the route they choose.

Marshall County Attorney Laura Johnson-McNish said that when Clean Line gets the exact route and property holders have a better idea what’s happening to their land, they can write about any concerns to the Kansas Corporation Commission during the public comment phase of the route approval process.

The company indicates it will request approval from the KCC this summer.

Johnson-McNish said after the meeting that she intends to write another letter to the KCC from the county at that time.

“The KCC tells me they do pay attention to input from the public and it can make a difference,” she said.

If Clean Line’s proposed line is approved, landowners affected will have to sign easement agreements or the company will have the right of eminent domain as a public utility.

During Monday’s meeting, landowner Sonya Kee, Franfort, asked, “Will you require us to sign a confidentiality agreement when we sign the easement?”

“That is pretty typical,” Lawlor said.

Farmer Kurt McMillan, Home City, was worried about his liability in case he damaged a transmission pole while farming his land.

“If I damage a structure and repairs cost $7 million and I have a million dollars of liability coverage, who’s responsible for the difference of $6 million?”

Lawlor did not have a specific answer but said he would get back to McMillan after taking his contact information.

McMillan said he’d like to see the liability information in writing and as a part of the easement agreement.

Also expressing concern was Rick Strathman, who farms on the Nemaha-Marshall county line. Strathman raises hundreds of heifers for area dairies. He said pregnant cows in his confined feeding operation would be directly beneath one of the line’s possible routes.

Strathman asked Clean Line to guarantee there would be no harm from the line’s electro-magnetic field to his cattle.

Lawlor replied that studies haven’t shown livestock or humans were harmed by electro-magnetic fields. He handed out a sheet with references to those studies.

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Water Retention Reservoirs Gain Importance

As with so many other proposed public uses, an end result of water retention is a double-barreled winner.

Damages caused by flooding will be mitigated. However, frequently the dam construction may also serve as a boon for economic development.

It is just these two items which have created activity among the elected officials of Madison and Delaware Counties in Indiana.

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/mar/19/proposed-indiana-reservoir-would-face-several-revi/

But first elected leaders in Madison and Delaware counties and the communities of Anderson, Chesterfield and Daleville would have to agree to form a 10-member Mounds Lake Commission to study the idea.

The project that would involve building a 2,500-foot-long earthen dam along the White River at a cost of between $300 million and $400 million

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Iowa Looks to Bar Acquisition For "Recreational" Purposes To Be Voluntary

The Iowa House recognizes that to simply create lakes for recreational purposes offers a dangerous precedent. One might argue that the end use is for better water use for the community, and as such would be a "public use". However, when the true intent is to build the waterways for the recreational use and residential development, legislators realize that the ostensible public use was not one and have limited the right of jurisdictions to acquire, through the eminent domain process, lands for residential redevelopment.

http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/iowa-house-approves-limit-on-condemnation/article_0ce330f4-8aef-11e2-b286-001a4bcf887a.html

House File 219 adds landowner protections to Iowa’s eminent domain law. The catalyst for the bill, which now goes to the Senate, was a plan for a 900-acre lake in Clarke County. The county called it necessary to flood farmland to provide drinking water to the city of Osceola. The county also claims it was needed to spur economic development and residential homebuilding.

However, landowners, including long-established farmers, disputed that, pointing to plans that at one time included boat ramps, recreational vehicle parking sites and a beach with picnic tables and bath house.

“It should be hard to condemn ground,” floor manager Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said. “It should not be possible to condemn land for recreation purposes and it should be illegal to condemn on deceit.”

 

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Iowa Looks to Bar Acquisition For "Recreational" Purposes To Be Voluntary

The Iowa House recognizes that to simply create lakes for recreational purposes offers a dangerous precedent. One might argue that the end use is for better water use for the community, and as such would be a "public use". However, when the true intent is to build the waterways for the recreational use and residential development, legislators realize that the ostensible public use was not one and have limited the right of jurisdictions to acquire, through the eminent domain process, lands for residential redevelopment.

http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/iowa-house-approves-limit-on-condemnation/article_0ce330f4-8aef-11e2-b286-001a4bcf887a.html

House File 219 adds landowner protections to Iowa’s eminent domain law. The catalyst for the bill, which now goes to the Senate, was a plan for a 900-acre lake in Clarke County. The county called it necessary to flood farmland to provide drinking water to the city of Osceola. The county also claims it was needed to spur economic development and residential homebuilding.

However, landowners, including long-established farmers, disputed that, pointing to plans that at one time included boat ramps, recreational vehicle parking sites and a beach with picnic tables and bath house.

“It should be hard to condemn ground,” floor manager Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said. “It should not be possible to condemn land for recreation purposes and it should be illegal to condemn on deceit.”

 

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A Marriage of Convenience for Environmentalists and the Tea Party

The Keystone XL Pipeline is creating an interesting new alliance.

Many of the individuals affected were never concerned about the environment. Oklahoma and Texas are key oil states, with a long time preference for the economic benefit over the potential negative environmental effects of production.

Now, Keystone XL, transporting the oil from Canada, is facing considerable opposition not only from the environmentalists, but also many independent libertarian thinkers.

One of the interesting points is that the libertarians, who are among those who are the most frequent opponents of government regulation. In this instance, the same citizens recognize the overwhelming authority and power of a utility truly unregulated by governmental intervention.

The only governmental intervention available at this point is a refusal to grant the certificate, something that likely shall not happen. After all, if we do not have the tar sands being refined in the United States, the product will be refined for Chinese use.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/03/130308-keystone-xl-pipeline-battle/

Pipeline opponents garnered national attention last month, when some 40,000 protesters (according to organizers) assembled in Washington, D.C., to urge the White House to take a stand against fossil fuel emissions by vetoing the project. The event was billed as the largest rally ever held in the United States on climate change. Less noticed have been the bitter personal battles being waged in the trenches—literally, those being dug by TransCanada.

It's happening in the unlikeliest of places, the oil states of Oklahoma and Texas, where environmentalists have joined hands with conservatives furious over how the imperative to build the Keystone XL has trumped the property rights of those in its path.

"I have a real strong objection to a private business coming in and rolling over property owners in Texas," said Debra Medina, a vocal critic of TransCanada who ran as a Tea Party candidate for governor of Texas in 2010. "If I walked into your driveway and took your car, it'd be theft. How come I can take your [land] and it not be theft?"

The groundswell may not be enough to stop Keystone XL; indeed, TransCanada says the southern leg of the project is more than 50 percent complete, with the entire right-of-way cleared and welding and installation under way. The company says it is on track to bring the Oklahoma-to-Texas segment into service late this year.

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The Wrong Way To Start a Pipeline Condemnation?

Enbridge, in effectively announcing the proposed pipeline from the area northwest of Decatur to southeast of Warrensburg, Illinois, has provided a presentation which invites litigation.

First, the project is being placed out for an "open house" to be run by the company simply for the company to state it has spoken to the people affected.

Second, company officials state that owners are paid the fair market value for their affected property, failing to note there is a required determination of whether damage to the area not physically being taken is also affected.  Third, simply being "below ground" is not the only effect.

Finally, the type of easement being utilized is not being disclosed, and one can fully expect that the easement will be far more than a simple underground pipe that is not visible to the eye.

http://herald-review.com/news/local/enbridge-gets-input-from-area-residents-regarding-oil-pipeline/article_9951d5cc-8167-11e2-8eb8-001a4bcf887a.html

The project already was approved several years ago by the Illinois Commerce Commission but was put on the backburner by Enbridge as the economy slumped into recession. Now, oil demand is booming again, and Enbridge said the pipeline is needed to shift the growing stream of crude oil being extracted from North Dakota and the vast Canadian oil sands, where producers buy many of the giant mining trucks built at Decatur’s Caterpillar Inc. plant.

Enbridge spokesman Kevin O’Connor said many other permits and permissions must still be obtained at the state and federal level, and the company would be going back to the ICC to seek a permit allowing it eminent domain powers. O’Connor said the ability to legally force a landowner to give them an easement for the pipeline would mean that one person would not be in a position to stop the entire project. But he stressed that was wanted only as a last resort, and the company is anxious to reach amicable agreements.

“Landowners are paid the fair market value for their affected property,” he said. “And the pipeline is hidden out of sight.” Compensation is also paid for crop damage and altered crop yields until the disturbed soil recovers.

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Nebraska Thinks About Fairness to Owners

 

A legislative proposal, one which is likely and still the least favorable to owners in the country, is being presented in the Nebraska legislature. At least owners would have the right to some notice of the condemnation activity and a complete notice of what is to be taken prior to any negotiation under this proposal.

The defense by those objecting to the notice is that the legislation is "redundant". That is hard to believe given the fact that the legislation is there as a remedial form of relief to those who have already been abused by utilities in that respective State. 

http://www.northplattebulletin.com/index.asp?show=news&action=readStory&storyID=24976&pageID=24 

Twelve people testified in support of the bill and two testified against it.

The notice required by the bill must be hand-delivered or delivered through certified mail. It would include a description of the project, including maps, people involved, and why that specific area was chosen. Along with the notification, property owners would receive a list of their rights.

“The power to exercise eminent domain exemplifies a very careful balancing exercise between private rights and public purpose,” Avery said.

Avery added that the bill stemmed from the special legislative session on the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, noting that he wanted to protect the property owners’ rights.

Many supporters said they believed the bill was a good starting point to address the issue of eminent domain.....

John Lindsay, a lobbyist for Source Gas, Black Hills Energy and Northern Natural Gas, and Andy Polock, a lobbyist for Northwestern Energy, said that the bill would be redundant and conflict, at times, with what federal and state law already requires of gas companies.

Lindsay said that federal law does not allow companies to discuss what is expected in the notification until three business days after the application for the project has been accepted, making this bill’s 10 days’ notice requirement conflict with federal law.

Lindsay also said that the companies he represents like to make contact early with landowners and worry that any contact would be considered making negotiations.

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Is The Mississippi River Flooding a Taking?

At first glance, when reading the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission decision, a person could believe that any type of flooding will create a cause of action for inverse condemnation.

Historically, flooding has created a taking of property when flooding is caused by a specific governmental activity changing their relationship between a property owner and the property owner’s proximity to the waterway system. Simply because there will be flooding under a program does not necessarily give rise to a taking in every situation, at least so far. This will be fact based until the Supreme Court provides a bright line test.

http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/nebraska/attorney-plans-to-sue-over-missouri-river-flooding/article_6fa552f8-51df-5c83-ac4d-aeb9f6a4a9a6.html

The corps has defended its actions repeatedly, but spokesman David Kolarik said Tuesday the agency would not comment on pending litigation.

Murphy said his case would be helped by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in December that the federal government is not automatically exempt from paying for damage caused by temporary flooding from its dams.

The court sided with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in its appeal of a lower court ruling that said the federal government did not have to pay for damage to thousands of trees after the corps released more water than usual from its dam on the Black River. The release of additional water benefited farmers, but the commission said its hardwood forest suffered significant damage.

The commission said the damage amounted to the government taking its property, for which compensation would be owed under the Constitution.

The Court of Federal Claims agreed and ordered the government to pay $5.6 million for destroyed and damaged trees. But the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said damage resulting from temporary flooding, as opposed to permanent or inevitable flooding, cannot be compensated under the Constitution's Takings Clause

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Utility Challenges the City of Boulder's Process

In seeking a Freedom of Information Act request, Xcel may be able to illustrate that Boulder does not have the proverbial ducks in order because the proposed cost of the utility to the City will be far greater for the City than the community could have ever contemplated.

In almost every State, the rule of a public use and necessity is the question of whether the community was delegated the authority to acquire for the proposed use. Frequently, the factual basis is subject to challenge because the factual presentation is so baseless. However, even when the facts are baseless, a taking for a proposed public use will likely succeed once the legislative delegation is provided. See Township of Grosse Ile v Grosse Ile Bridge Company, 477 Mich 890 (2006).

http://www.bcbr.com/article/20130227/NEWS/130229959

The request, which is governed by provisions of the Colorado Open Records Act, follows a Tuesday night city council study session in which members told staff, consultants and volunteers they were on the right track after passing "the first major milestone" on its way to potentially creating a municipal utility.

City staff members and outside consultants have spent the past few months trying to determine whether Boulder could create its own utility that, in its eyes, would be better than Xcel Energy Inc. Xcel Energy is the owns and operates the power system in Boulder.

The municipal utility would have to charge lower rates, be at least as reliable and safe, create less greenhouse gas and use more power from renewable sources.

They found that over a 20-year horizon, the city could create a utility that would fulfill those criteria, said Heather Bailey, the executive director of energy strategy and electric utility development.

The day the city would decide to municipalize remains in the future, but the teams models and risk analysis had favorable results for municipalization advocates.


 

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Wabash Gas Storage Goes Forward NOT

Wabash Gas Storage has made a realistic decision. The demand for the gas storage is simply not there at this time. Therefore, rather than expend the customer funds, the entity determined that this was not the appropriate time to go forward. The company and its law firm, DLA Piper, LLP, should be respected for a rational decision.

 

http://wabashstorage.com/     

http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/search/prepPdfHighlight.asp?pdf_url=D:/verity/custom/indexdocs/13185226.PDF&xml=http://wdcelbwebps01/IDMWS/search/xmlview.asp&dockey=14091676@12_13_14&Query=WABASH GAS STORAGE&File_id=13185226&File_ext=PDF 

Wabash Gas Storage, LLC (“Wabash”) has worked diligently to solidify commercial support for its proposed natural gas storage project in Edgar County, Illinois (“Project”). However, based upon recent negotiations with potential customers, it has become apparent that the current economic viability of the Project is not sufficient to warrant moving forward with the Project at this time. Accordingly, Wabash respectfully requests that the Commission terminate the NEPA pre-filing review process for the Project in the above-captioned proceeding. Wabash continues to believe that market conditions will improve in the future, and to the extent Wabash determines to move forward with the Project, it will request that the Commission reinitiate the pre-filing review process at that time.

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Can An Airport Be Built Without Any Funds?

 

There is yet to be a Federal appropriation, a certain which will be required in order for the southeast of Chicago airport to be built. An owner is objecting to the condemnation because there is no certainty that there will ever be an airport there.

How far should government be allowed to go when there really are no final plans?

A great lawyer, William Ryan, responsibly defends the position of an owner who will lose property for potentially other than a public use. This is a serious issue for all property owners.

http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/news/18468914-418/hearing-to-be-tuesday-on-airport-land-condemnation-lawsuit.html

Members of an eastern Will County family are fighting the state’s attempt to take their land for the south suburban airport project.

The Barbour family attorney, William Ryan of Rosemont, has filed a motion to dismiss three condemnation cases involving 300 acres near the intersection of Will Center Road and Eagle Lake Road in Will Township.

 

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