Eminent domain was originally set up to benefit the American people. It was used by government to create things that the public would use — like highways, schools, and hospitals. But today in Wisconsin, it is legal for any foreign pipeline company like Enbridge to take someone’s land against their will for a purely private project. The new tar sands pipeline, called Line 66, that Enbridge wants to install next to the Line 61 corridor that passes southwest through Clark County would not benefit Wisconsin residents at all, so why should Wisconsinites have to give up their land for it?
We have more than enough gasoline — the product that tar sands will become— in America today, so pumping this dirtiest of fossil fuels from Alberta, Canada, to Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries just enables more exports to China. In this project, we take the risks, and Enbridge gets the rewards.
Our rivers, the Black River and Yellow River; farmland; and wildlife are in danger because Enbridge pipelines have a terrible safety record. From January 2006 through February 2017, 112 Enbridge pipeline incidents were reported in the U.S. with 44,580 barrels spilled. Nineteen percent of the spilled oil was not recovered, and there was $928 million in property damages. Four people lost their lives, and three were injured.
Our Wisconsin law on eminent domain needs to change to make sure that foreign companies who are just using us to get their dangerous product to faraway markets cannot seize our land against our will. There is something we can do here in Clark County to let our state legislators know how we feel.
On Aug. 15 the Wood County Board passed a resolution calling on their elected state officials to get rid of eminent domain for private gain for oil pipelines. We can do the same. Clark County Board supervisors, please stand up for our property rights.
Susan Nelson Venzke