Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

South Dakota: Eminent Domain Could Be Used For [Keystone] Oil Pipeline

Eminent Domain Could Be Used For Oil Pipeline

The 220 mile Transcanada pipeline is going to affect 500 tracts of land in South Dakota. TransCanada officials say if they can't get signed agreements on all those pieces of land, they'll use eminent domain to build the crude oil pipeline. So what do landowners who would be impacted by the pipeline think of that?

Some landowners have already received checks from Transcanada to build the pipeline through their land. But others haven't yet signed on the dotted line. Instead, they are waiting to see what the Public Utilities Commission has to say about the project and if Transcanada is going to make a better offeror take the land through eminent domain.

Mike Schultz spent Wednesday night cutting alfalfa on his farm south of Freeman, but as he passes over his land row by row, he knows soon he could be driving over an oil pipeline.

Freeman farmer Mike Schultz says, "They gave me an offer and I gave them a counter-offer and that's all I've heard."

Transcanada wants to put the pipeline under Schultz's alfalfa field and build one of the pumping stations on five acres of his farm-ground.

Schultz says, "That's all above ground, that's permanent, you're not going to farm over that."

Schultz hasn't signed any papers to give Transcanada the right to build on or under his farm.

Just down the road Oren Stahl hasn't signed anything either.

Freeman farmer Oren Stahl says, "These people going right through wherever they want, that's the part I don't like."

The pipeline and the pump station would be less than a half mile away from Stahl's home. His lawyer has advised him not to sign the papers, saying the deal is too one-sided in favor of TransCanada. And Stahl doesn't think the company should be able to just take his land either.

Stahl says, "I don't believe a foreign country should have the right to do it to us in the United States, that's just my opinion."

Schultz thinks the company needs to wait before it turns to eminent domain to get the land it needs.

Schultz says, "They have the right to use it, but I would say they'd be a lot better off if they could make 75 to 80 percent of the people happy."

TransCanada says it won't look at eminent domain as an option until later this year. And even then, negotiations with landowners could continue.

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