Eminent domain allows the government or private companies to take private land for public use. This is called a “taking.” Examples of this include takings of private property for oil & gas pipelines, energy transmission lines, or rail lines. When private property is seized for government or private use it is considered “condemned” through a condemnation process. The condemning entity must give the property owner just compensation (typically, the fair market value at the time of the taking); however, landowners are generally powerless to stop the condemnation process once an entity is granted authority to take a property.
TREAD will be following interim charges that the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate have laid out to study in preparation for the 87th legislative session in 2021. TREAD supports eminent domain reform to protect landowner rights and give them a say in eminent domain situations which includes:
1) Mandate a public meeting to ensure property owners understand the process and can have their question answered.
2) Stipulate minimum protections that must be present in the contract.
3) Hold condemners accountable if they offer property owners less compensation than they are owed.
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In Texas, oil and gas companies choose intrastate pipeline routes with no oversight from the public, elected officials or regulatory body. They are the only private entities that are granted the ability to use eminent domain to take private property without public input.
TREAD is advocating for an oil and gas pipeline routing process similar to the one used by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for energy transmission lines. PUC’s process includes public environment and safety studies, a meaningful public input mechanism, and a third party to make final decisions. The PUC has successfully used this process for many years, to fairly and transparently decide routing for power lines.
TREAD understands the importance of the oil & gas industry in Texas and the urgency around getting product to the market. We need a process that balances the industry with private property rights, local economies, public safety and natural resources.
Join TREAD to stay up to date on oil and gas pipeline routing reform.