Sunday, June 8, 2014

Clean Line Energy, Chuck Hassebrock, CFRA, SPDC, and Just Compensation of the Fifth Amendment's Taking Clause

While thinking about the Chuck Hassebrock’s former Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) proposal for Special Purpose Development Corporations (SPDC), and the Rock Island Clean Line (RICL), there are some issues that really gives me a queasy feeling in my lower GI tract but not to the point of causing anneal seepage.  Seriously, the problem with the CFRA’s model of SPDC’s is it fails to recognize individual circumstances and a landowner’s right to represent their own special circumstances in an easement negotiation with a company desiring a right of way.

While the Center for Rural Affairs implies it represents farmers and rural American’s, the CFRA assumes all farmland is created equal and it all amounts to the equivalent of mere “dirt”.  Maybe in Nebraska, one soil type can define a square mile and maybe to a person educated in Vermont, corn is corn and soil is soil, but in Illinois and Iowa, an educated farmer can describe the difference in soil from one square acre to the next across a field.    Even the author Margrett Mitchell knew more about land's value than the CFRA or it's recently replaced director, Chuck Hassebrock.

 “The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts".....Gerald O'Hara, Gone With The Wind.”
Margaret Mitchell

To an actual farmer, this is not “dirt” but soil.  Every hill, ever roil and every low is different.  The soil on a north side of a hill can vary greatly from the soil on the south side of the hill.  Only a moron from an office in Houston, Minneapolis or Lyons Nebraska will fail to understand these differences.   For this reason alone, ever individual landowner deserves the right to represent their own property in an eminent domain case. 

The CFRA’s purposed Special Purpose Development Corporation makes the assumption all farmland is created equal. While the Declaration of the United States declares the concept all men are created, it is a fallacy to imply all land is created equal.  Why is soil the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for?  Because soil or “dirt” to a Nebraska NGO desk jockey, is valued more than gold.  During the current recession what commodity has risen in value more than farm ground?  “Dirt” has been one of the best hedges against recession and a devalued dollar. It’s been a better investment than gold.  Unfortunately, for the fools at the Center for Rural Affairs, with their agenda to advance big wind corporations, they’ve failed to understand this concept.  Here is a specific example where a landowner would be disenfranchised if forced to comply and submit to the rule of the CFRA’s purposed Special Purpose Development Corporation. 

For hypothetical purposes, let’s pretend RICL will go through.  As Hillary Clinton describes it, let’s suspend our ability of disbelief for a moment and imagine RICL gets all the green lights, financing, and begins obtaining easements from land owners.

While I have no ownership stake, there is an 80 acre field RICL would transverse.  The only compensation I would receive is for loss of revenue from the crop, as I am just a renter.  With that said, to the ordinary idiot from Houston, this property is a plain 80 acre field, without any development.  It is an typical 80 rod by 160 rod field or 12.5% of a square mile.   However, just 37.5 feet south of the south property line lies the Northern Borders Pipeline.  This easement is 75 feet wide and borders the property line and none of this easement is in the field RICL desires an easement. 

While I have not personally confirmed it, I am told Clean Line Energy Partners wants to be 1000 feet north of the property line or 1,000 feet north of the Northern Borders easement.  Why?  Most likely because a high voltage Direct Current powerline is corrosive to a pipeline.  Put simply, the stray current from a HVDC powerline causes a pipeline to rust out like a 1975 Chevrolet pickup.  It is easy to premise, the best form of mitigation for Clean Line to potential pipeline damage is to stay as far away from the Northern Borders Pipeline while still conforming to a corridor and track parallel to the pipeline. 

However, on this specific 80 acre field, there is another pipeline.  This one is owned by Mid-America Pipeline (owned by Enterprise Products Partners of Houston Texas).  While this pipeline enters the property traveling north & south, it takes a right angle and heads east & west as it exits the property.  When the Mid-America Pipeline (not to be confused with MidAmerican Energy) exits the property, it is 1,994 feet from the southern property line. 

If RICL is successful in siting it’s powerline 1,000 feet north of the property line, it will be approximately 1,000 feet from the Northern Borders Pipeline (owner by TransCanada) and just about 1,000 feet from the Mid-American Pipeline.  For this specific property and a few properties lying east of it, RICL would be receiving a 2000 foot easement while paying for a Right-of-Way one tenth of the size. 

Will any other company seek an easement between Northern Borders, RICL, and Mid-American?  No.  While Northern Borders followed the property line and the Mid-American was constructed 70 years ago, RICL would be choosing to split the difference and take the land in the middle.  This will render 2,000 feet width of easement useless for further development and create a corridor where easements are spaced 1,000 feet apart.     

Special circumstances like these are irrelevant to the Center for Rural Development.  Special Purpose Development Corporations are not capable of acknowledging the individual differences and special circumstances.  No property to the west of this parcel contains such a special circumstance. 

With Chuck Hassebrock’s Center for Rural Affairs model, ALL LANDOWNERS would be given two options.  Join the SPDC and allow all properties be negotiated collectively with no acknowledgement of special circumstances OR allow the SPDC to acquire the easement through the property by eminent domain and the members of the SPDC will gain any potential further profit through collective bargaining. 

Through this socialist approach by the CFRA to consider all property identical, the protection afforded by the Fifth Amendment is ignored and voided.  JUST COMPENSATION of the TAKING CLAUSE of the Fifth Amendment is reduced from an INDIVIDUAL RIGHT to a COLLECTIVE RIGHT.  What Chuck Hassebrock’s Center for Rural Affairs is purposing is a bastardization of the Bill of Rights.  It’s an affront on the individual freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and most assuredly a forced eminent domain to a Special Purpose Development Corporation would be a landmark case headed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  This is one example where Clean Line Energy Partners LLC could easily be a landmark eminent domain case with a title “Wellenreiter v. RICL” or any other farmer’s name versus Clean Line Energy Partners and the reputation of the CFRA. 

Do you really want to go down this road built on a Special Purpose Development Corporation?  Clean Line Energy Partners is the frontline in America’s Energy War and there are plenty of farmers and landowners willing to have their name on a landmark Constitutional case.   There are also a few attorneys who’d also enjoy arguing eminent domain protection before the Supreme Court.  Each landowner and each parcel are special and deserve individual protection under the United States Constitution. 

Land is the only thing worth fighting for.  It’s time Governors (Pat Quinnn), Wannabe Governors (Chuck Hassebrock), and Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s like the CFRA) understand why Rural America values their land.

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