Cory Gardner flip flops on use of eminent domain when oil money is involved
With all of his grandstanding on the Keystone XL pipeline, one issue Cory Gardner has ignored completely is the fact that the oil companies are using eminent domain to take interests in farmland that sit in the path of the pipeline. Eminent domain is the power of a government to seize private property to put it to a public use providing compensation, but not requiring consent. While a state rep, Cory Gardner introduced two bills to stop eminent domain use to benefit private companies. Unfortunately, now it appears he has changed his mind and thinks it is a good thing for a private oil company to use eminent domain to take farmers' property without their consent. Never forget folks, Cory Gardner is owned by oil companies and he has no problem taking your property for their gain. The New York Times reported in October that the private company building the Keystone XL pipeline had 34 eminent domain cases already in Texas and 22 in South Dakota.
Sue Kelso and her large extended family in Oklahoma were sued in the local district court by TransCanada, the pipeline company, after she and her siblings refused to allow the pipeline to cross their pasture. “Their land agent told us the very first day she met with us, you either take the money or they’re going to condemn the land,” Mrs. Kelso said.
Cory Gardner and other members of the GOP have been trying to make the pipeline happen by exaggerating claims about the number jobs it will create and saying it will lower the price of oil in this country. So, Gardner now says that eminent domain is fine, if jobs are made. In 2006, Cory Gardner (and Sen. Brophy) introduced HB06-1099, which would strictly prevent the use of eminent domain in Colorado except for narrowly defined instances that would put the condemned property to a "public use." Gardner's bill explicitly stated that "public use" did not include uses such as "creating jobs, generating tax revenue, attracting new commerce," or where the "interest in the property at issue would be transferred to a private party, ... a corporation, ... or other form of business entity." In 2006, Cory Gardner didn't like private corporations being able to take other peoples' land by claiming it would create jobs or attract new commerce. In 2012, Gardner seems to have flip flopped on that issue. This week, the Energy and Commerce committee held a markup of a bill that would force the administration to allow the Keystone XL pipeline. In that markup, Rep. Rush introduced an amendment that would "prohibit the threat or use of eminent domain to take ownership, rights-of-way, easement, or other access or use of private property in the US, for the purposes of constructing or operating the Keystone XL Pipeline project." That amendment, prohibiting the use of eminent domain to build Gardner's favorite pipeline, failed. Gardner was present at the committee markup but did not speak one word when the committee discussed eminent domain. What happened to the Cory Gardner from 2006 (and 2009 when he introduced another bill preventing the use of eminent domain)? When it comes to oil profits, Cory Gardner thinks that it is fine for landowners to lose their rights to a foreign owned private corporation. When it came to railroads that might pass near Gardner's neighbors in 2009, Gardner was adamantly opposed to eminent domain. What would Gardner say if his family's land was being condemned so an oil pipe could run through it? I guess that would depend on whether we were talkign to 2006 Cory, 2009 Cory, or ethically flexible 2012 Cory. It's amazing how easily Cory Garnder's principles are changed by special interest money.