From June 14 to 15, approximately 70 environmentalists and private property
rights activists gathered together in an invitation-only conference in
Atlanta, Georgia in order to discuss strategies that can be used to fight
energy companies’ increasing use of
eminent domain to build oil, petroleum products, and natural gas pipelines on private
property across the U.S.
The Park Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and GreenLaw served as
financial sponsors for the conference. In the past, organizations like
the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Park Foundation have avoided awarding
grant money to organizations and groups fighting for private property
rights. Jane Kleeb, the founder of Bold Nebraska, has been working hard
to explain property rights and pipeline fights to foundations like those
two. Kleeb and Bold Nebraska, which worked to organize ranchers and farmers
to fight against the northern part of the Keystone XL pipeline, is ready
to take the next step in creating a national organization effort against
the use of eminent domain in order to construct more energy pipelines.
Kleeb, as well as Domina Law Group’s Brian Jorde – who represented
landowners in the
successful fight against the Keystone XL pipeline – left the conference optimistic for the chances of a successful
national alliance being created in order to help landowners fight back
against pipeline developers.
The use of eminent domain to build pipelines across private property has
gained momentum in the U.S. over the past 50 years. The creation of a
national alliance is necessary to help fight back against this growing
issue, but, according to Jorde, it will require deep pocketed donors,
advocacy groups, legal, and industry experts. While the conference in
Atlanta marked a step closer to achieving that goal, Kleeb and Bold Nebraska
have already begun increasing the scope of their efforts.
Under their new umbrella group Bold Alliance, Bold Nebraska has opened
affiliate organizations in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Iowa in order to improve
their ability to serve as a national network to assist people fighting
Speaking with DC Media Group, Kleeb outlined her hopes for the future of Bold Alliance:
“For some landowner groups, they need funding to put an organizer
on the ground who is going to organize all the landowner groups in a state.
Some pipeline fighters need legal assistance. Some need white papers.
We’re going to step in and serve that role.”
Speakers at the conference included Georgia residents who successfully
lobbied for House Bill 1036, which imposed a moratorium on building a
petroleum pipeline until July 2017, as well as Megan Holleran of Susquehanna
County, Pennsylvania, whose family lost a portion of their land to eminent
domain. Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC was allowed to cut down a large
number of maple trees that the family used for its business in order to
build a pipeline before New York State denied a water-quality permit and
shut down Constitution Pipeline’s construction efforts.
Constitution Pipeline still retains legal authority to control that portion
of the Holleran’s land, despite the fact that the family has yet
to be compensated for their trees or for the easement.