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Bengs Proposes Limit on Eminent Domain for Carbon Dioxide Pipelines

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Brian Bengs would like to bring the controversial carbon dioxide pipelines into his campaign against Republican Senator John Thune. While Senator Thune seems to think farmers can make some money sequestering their CO2, he hasn’t said much about his Iowa Republican friends’ plan to seize land via eminent domain to lay pipes from ethanol plants in the five-state area to a CO2 burial site in North Dakota. Candidate Bengs, however, is ready to stand with landowners and, if sent to Washington, work on legislation to protect their property rights from this specific land grab:

In the highly controversial 2005 decision Kelo vs. City of New London, Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court declared use of a state’s eminent domain power to take private property and transfer it to another private entity a valid “public use” if it results in “expected public benefits.” Bengs believes that the maximum use of public property and existing public right-of-way easements for projects like this is the best approach. If elected, Bengs is committed to sponsoring legislation to disqualify carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects that use eminent domain to secure private property easements amounting to more than 10% of the total project length within a single state [Brian Bengs, campaign press release, posted by KSFY, 2022.09.23].

Note that Bengs is already offering compromise. He’s not calling for a total ban on eminent domain for CO2 pipelines. He’s setting a high bar: Summit Carbon Solutions and other developers would have to get voluntary easements for 90% of their route before they could force the holdouts along the remaining tenth or less of the route to surrender their land rights.

That’s still not the full and forceful rejection of the flawed Kelo decision that I’d like to see: the CO2 pipelines applying for permits are private projects, open to private contractors, seeking private profit. Eminent domain should only be used to transfer property rights from private citizens to genuine and direct public use, and even then only sparingly. One rich guy’s scheme to enrich himself and his friends on federal tax credits and force private citizens to surrender their property rights to help him swipe their tax dollars is not what the Fifth Amendment intends.

But Bengs is working to pull this controversial issue into the Senate debate. The move makes sense: a lot of the landowners targeted by Summit are good Thune/Trump Republicans who usually wouldn’t consider checking “D” on their ballots. Bengs sees a chance to break the rural partisan myopia with a promise to fight for real rights under immediate threat.

Now, tell me this: can we Democrats support a national restriction on eminent domain for carbon dioxide pipelines while opposing a national restriction on abortion?


  1. All Mammal 2022-09-26 07:25

    Me. H- yes. The best outcome would be the restoration of rights to people. If the people say ‘no, thank you’ to the pipeline- either make a sweeter offer or kick rocks. Same with our bodies. No means no. That is why we teach little kids to use their words. No is powerful and everyone should have the right to say it. Listen.

  2. Richard Schriever 2022-09-26 09:20

    The use of eminent domain is more like a forced abortion (preventing a landowner from using property as they choose) than it is like a restriction against abortion.

  3. Anthony Renli 2022-09-26 13:34

    I am, for the most part, against any time a private business wants to or tries to use eminent domain.
    Eminent Domain is forcing a land owner to sell their property when they don’t want to.
    Your take tying this to abortion seems strange to me. Like really odd.
    Eminent domain for private businesses allows a company to take away the land from a private citizen. It doesn’t matter what purpose they want to put the land too – they are taking property from people who don’t to give it to them. The motives for doing so may be good, they may be bad. They are still taking away the right to own and use property from the rightful owners.
    The National Abortion Ban is taking away the rights of the private citizen to control their own bodies.
    The National Abortion Ban is a lot closer to being in favor of eminent domain – you are taking away the rights of a private citizen.

  4. P. Aitch 2022-09-26 14:14

    The presumption that a fetus is a baby is simultaneously the presumption that to kill it is murder and wrong. It is tantamount to saying abortion is wrong because abortion is wrong which is why abortion is wrong. Only a liar or a fool would pretend this is an argument against abortion. It is merely an opinion, like “Chocolate is yummy because I like it.” – THE OPIATE OF THE ACADEMICS

    Abortion Rights v Eminent Domain

  5. larry kurtz 2022-10-06 06:54

    Researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines already know most, if not all, the mercury in the state’s lakes has precipitated from emissions released from coal fired power plants in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. So, Black Hills Energy is greenwashing its operations in Colorado but in Wyoming its monopoly power enables it to continue spewing heavy metal oxides all over its Rapid City headquarters. If South Dakota had a Democratic attorney general she’d sue Montana and Wyoming for the toxic legacy created by Colstrip, Basin Electric and Black Hills Energy. In 2020 Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and the American Petroleum Institute for lying to residents of that state.

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