Forced pooling is Eminent Domain on steroids

Dear Editor:

When governments use Eminent Domain, we expect it to be a rare but necessary occurrence. To be used for something like a road, or maybe a school. It certainly wouldn’t be right just to take property away because someone else thinks they want it more. The Fifth Amendment imposes limitations on the exercise of Eminent Domain, the taking must be for public use and just compensation must be paid.

There is a very similar discussion going on in politics in the area of forced pooling. In a nutshell, gas wells tend to go over large areas of land and you need to get permission from all those affected. Once deals are made with a certain percentage the other can then be forced into the deal.

Arguments can be made that once a vast majority agrees on a deal the hold out shouldn’t stop the deal.

But don’t they have rights too? Maybe they don’t want their property changed. Maybe they don’t believe in the taking of these resources. Maybe there is some other reason that we don’t know about. Who are we to say that they must comply with what the majority says is best for their property? That doesn’t sound like freedom at all. That is how tyrants rule.

Our country has a proud tradition of standing up for the little guy. We might not agree with the reasons for the holdouts on these deals in the least, but why do we think government should have the final say here?

Some argue that forced pooling actually protects property owners by making the companies pay them something instead of the nothing they would get when the resources are drained to their neighbors property anyway. This is a fine argument, but in our country we have the freedom to do as we please and it is not government’s job to protect us from ourselves.

Is it intriguing when lawmakers support this. When these forced deals are made it is for a lower price than would have been made otherwise. This of course is less money for the owner and reduced revenue in taxes. Usually lawmakers like more money to spend on things like roads.

Finally, we are talking about the taking of property for private use. This is not what was intended with eminent domain. Where does this stop? Where do we draw the line? When does someone’s property actually mean something?

We need to stand up for freedom and not allow greed to rule the day and make our laws. Legislators should be put on notice that supporting forced pooling could cost them their seats. Make sure your lawmaker knows that you want them to stand up for your rights.

Jay Taylor

Grafton

 

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