How the DOE can seize your propery

News & Politics
This is a guest post from the Sierra Club's Josh Dorner.

When you think of a corridor, you probably visualize a long, narrow area. Apparently, the people at the Department of Energy think of something a wee bit different -- say the entirety of the states of Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Jaws dropped last week when the DOE proposed its first two so-called "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors." They covered the entirety of the above states and vast swaths of southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and New York.(pdf) Under everyone's favorite bill, the Energy Policy Act of the 2005, the DOE can designate such corridors for new pipelines and powerlines. And if local or state officials want to protect their wilderness area, wetland, tribal burial ground, or Civil War battlefield -- TOO BAD! The federal government can approve transmission lines over local objection and even if they conflict with other federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act.

Best of all, once they're approved, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been granted sweeping powers of eminent domain. So FERC can then swoop in, take your property from you, and turn it over Energy Company X so they can pad their bottom line.

(Check here for more info on what the Sierra Club is doing to right this wrong.)

This provision of EPACT 2005 -- never debated on the floor of the House -- does include one Texas-sized loophole. As in, the whole state of Texas is excluded from this vast and likely unconstitutional power grab by the federal government.

And here I was hoping all that brush-clearing down in Crawford was to make way for a new high-voltage transmission line.

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