Landowner wrath growing over use of eminent domain by pipelines, utilities: Energy Pipeline News, 5/16/07

Press release

Landowners complaining about Enbridge Energy Co.’s use of eminent domain to seize land for a 321-mile, $1 billion leg of a pipeline to bring crude oil from Canada to Chicago exemplify a growing nationwide trend, according to editors at Energy Pipeline News newsletter. The Wisconsin landowners are only a few of those objecting to use of condemnations to seize private property “in the public interest,” according to the daily and fortnightly subscription newsletter published by Anvil Publishers of Atlanta, Ga.

Among the complaints of Wisconsin landowners in the path of the Enbridge pipeline are that the pay for trees being cut is unfair; that some trees shouldn't be chopped down, that Enbridge uses threats and that human waste was left behind from earlier work.

"You may not want to talk to me. I despise this company so much," Dennis Bosanec, 64, of rural Vesper, Wis., told a reporter. He owns a tree farm in the pipeline expansion’s path. "They destroyed my spirit of planting trees for the next generation." “I've concluded that no one but a fellow landowner could understand the essence of what Enbridge is doing to us,” Bosanec contends. “Enbridge sues us, making it impossible to sell our property, and all we wanted was fair treatment. Bosanec says that minutes after he learned of his father’s death, a process server gruffly shoved a two-inch packet of legal documents at him, snarling, “You've been served.” The irony, he says, is that Enbridge, a Canadian energy company, had already surveyed his land. Bosanec says the agent he was dealing with told him that his boss wanted to “take a few of us to the woodshed.”

Bosanec says he signed Enbridge's work space agreement and got $13,400 for allowing the utility to construct its pipeline across his property. The move led to at least 2,000 of his trees - some of them mature oaks - being cut down, he said. "The day after I signed, they cut my timber. Really, now it is a wasteland… It is a ruthless company. These are oilmen. They sat at my table and said if you don't sign it, we will take it. I don't call that negotiation." In the majority of right of way acquisition cases, emotions don’t run as strong. The lesson in the Bosanec case, according to Energy Pipeline News, is that the pipeline company made an enemy of Bosanec, when he could just as easily have been made a supporter. Energy Pipeline News has covered many examples of eminent domain being used with tact to make allies rather than enemies of landowners along utility corridors. Meanwhile, cases like Bosanec’s are leading to a flurry of legislative proposals to protect landowners from the rapacious.

Energy Pipeline News: http://www.energypipelinenews.com