Pipeline finds a peaceful path

“The largest energy-infrastructure business on this continent was trying to use eminent domain to grab a route for a new pipeline, Utopia East. But in October, Judge Robert Pollex of the Wood County Court of Common Pleas said it didn’t qualify as a “common carrier,” and it wasn’t entitled to eminent domain.

Utopia East is intended to transport ethane for one Canadian company.

Kinder Morgan was appealing Judge Pollex’s decision, but this month it filed to drop the appeal. It said it had found an alternative route. But attorney Andrew Mayle said the same issue was relevant to cases elsewhere involving the same company.

Even if Kinder Morgan had not been able to find a route for its pipeline, it would have had no moral right to eminent domain. Its pipeline, while a respectable business, is no more important than the businesses it would disrupt. And it certainly is not more important than property rights, which entitle landowners to decide whether to allow other people to use their land.

But if protecting the property rights of Wood County landowners doesn’t mean blocking the pipeline, is there any case at all for giving Kinder Morgan eminent domain there or elsewhere? What would it do for the community? What would it even do for Kinder Morgan — besides allow it to get lower prices at other people’s expense?”

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Editorial. The Blade 18 April 2017.