The Overlooked Details on Eminent Domain

As the cold weather and longer nights approach, Pennsylvanians should be thanking the production boom of our state’s natural resources. Due to new technology and energy infrastructure, the Commonwealth is undergoing an energy renaissance unlike ever before. Consequently, Pennsylvanians are benefitting from the many positive impacts of natural gas. However, without the investment and development of new energy infrastructure, our state will slowly start to suffer as our resources are pushed elsewhere.

In a recent article in the Lebanon Daily News, Dr. Jack Rafuse argues the important need for infrastructure in order to meet public needs. The former White House energy adviser and current principal of the Rafuse Organization, Dr. Rafuse underlines how “with the demand and public benefits so clear, it[‘s] important that we understand why such critical development cannot and should not be held hostage by a small minority.”

The balance between private property rights and the need for a public utility is delicate and is rightfully the subject of debate, but public and private sectors are currently working together to benefit both. In doing so, it’s important that Pennsylvanians understand the benefits of natural gas and natural gas liquids to the greater public and how eminent domain, at times, can restore that balance.

Pipeline infrastructure is a necessity in order for Pennsylvania’s economy to continue to thrive. They bring in countless jobs, both in direct and indirect industries. One pipeline project, Mariner East, would generate an estimated 300,000 new construction jobs alone and would bring in $4.2 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy. That money would help better communities by better our schools, local businesses, and our neighborhoods through reinvestments.

However, as Dr. Rafuse points out, the voices of a small minority are halting Pennsylvania’s potential. As a result, eminent domain is practiced with restrain for such vital infrastructure.

The concept is not new. The practice is used to build roads, schools, airports, and water and sewer lines; all infrastructure that our communities need just like natural gas. Nearly 200,000 Pennsylvanians use natural gas to heat their homes and businesses and farmers use it to dry their crops. Furthermore, more people are turning to natural gas as it becomes more accessible and cheaper than alternative energy, underscoring the resource’s common good.

Natural gas and natural gas liquids are in demand and pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to meet public needs. Future pipeline projects will benefit the entire state as people rely on its byproduct every day, including, as Dr. Rafuse puts it, “our fellow citizens who find that prospect hard to accept.”