Marshfield area couple takes a stand for property rights
Borchardt, Stone aim to protect landowners against possible Enbridge pipeline expansion
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — “We’ve paid our taxes, never been arrested, served in our community. … We’ve been good citizens,” said Marshfield area landowner Mark Borchardt. “Now we have this pipeline who wants to take our property.”
Borchardt and his wife, Gwen Stone, are the driving force behind a movement to educate and inform Wisconsin property owners of their rights regarding Enbridge and possible future pipeline expansion.
“My wife and I have lived in and loved our home for 22 years,” said Borchardt. “Enbridge’s recent land survey for expansion came right up to our house. We don’t want to lose it. We know we can’t beat Enbridge alone, so we are reaching out to other affected Wisconsin citizens to join together so we can all keep our property.”
“There is more than a little selfish motivation on our part. We want to save our property. We want to save our home,” added Borchardt. “When we bought our house in 1994, we had one pipeline.
“In 1998 Enbridge put in another pipeline. … In 2009 they put in two more pipelines, … so four pipelines in 22 years.
“So right now, just west of Marshfield, half of Canada’s tar sand production flows through our neighborhood. Now Enbridge wants more land for more pipelines.”
“There are two expansions underway. The first expansion is to (Enbridge’s existing) Line 61. Once they finish all of the pump stations, it is going to be at 1.2 million barrels per day,” said Borchardt. “Then there is the second expansion taking more property along the pipeline route and putting in additional pipelines.”
Fueled by a desire to protect their home and land, two groups were formed to educate and protect the numerous landowners that could be affected by future expansion.
“80 Feet is Enough is intended to be an advocacy group for landowner property rights,” explained Borchardt. “Our goal is to educate landowners on the loss of property rights in Wisconsin, the egregious changes in the Wisconsin eminent domain law that happened during the 2015 budget process, and to work to change the eminent domain laws in Wisconsin to prevent the abuse of eminent domain for private gain.
“Wisconsin Easement Action Team (WEAT) will be a nonprofit (to be used) as a vehicle for landowners to negotiate, as a single group, the terms of the easements Enbridge will seek when they undertake their next expansion. WEAT gives landowners economy-of-scale in being able to afford top-notch legal representation.”
WEAT has retained the legal services of Brian E. Jorde, who had previous success in creating the Nebraska Easement Action Team and assisting in blocking Trans Canada from taking property for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
During the week of Sept. 11, Borchardt and Stone traveled through Wisconsin hosting information meetings in Waterloo, Hayward, and Marshfield, reaching out to the numerous landowners in the Enbridge right-of-way.
Borchardt said, “We are developing strategies for organizing landowners affected by the pipelines across the state of Wisconsin. The three meetings last week were to test our messages and gauge landowner interest. Interest among landowners that attended the meetings was overwhelmingly positive. We are moving forward.”
“The current easement owned by Enbridge and dating back to 1968 affects approximately 1,800 landowners,” said Borchardt. “Expanding the easement by 80 to 300 feet means many more property owners will be affected, perhaps up to 3,000.”