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COUNTERPOINT: Property owners deserve eminent domain protections
Guest column by Rep. Brandei Schaefbauer
Recently, a reporter got fired for sending a prank call to a so-called “friend.” The recipient of the prank call said he felt “threatened” by the call. The reporter was made to apologize and plead guilty to a Class 2 misdemeanor and pay a fine. There is no question that this was a lapse in judgment. But compare this, and the reaction to it, to what is currently being pulled on landowners across the state and political leaders' reaction to that.
I was in Leola on Monday, May 15 for a rally put on by landowners who are having the biggest prank of their lives played on them. There are landowners all over the state that are being threatened with eminent domain by a private company, Summit Carbon Solutions, to build a pipeline to carry highly pressurized CO2 and dump it in the ground in North Dakota. Approximately 15 present and past legislators were there to support the landowners and speak on property rights.
Why do I call this the biggest prank of their lives? Because the person who felt “threatened” by the prank call from that reporter is the same person who a lot of these landowners once voted for to represent them as the party chair of the South Dakota GOP, Dan Lederman. He is now one of dozens of paid lobbyists for an out-of-state company who has a stake in this pipeline. Talk about getting pranked.
VIEWPOINT: A note of gratitude
The constant fear of lawsuits, intimidation, condemnation and threats by the company Lederman represents, Summit Carbon Solutions, are real and now apart of the landowners’ everyday lives. Over 80 South Dakota landowners have been served with condemnation lawsuits for their land. Four counties have been sued by Summit because of ordinances put in place to protect their citizens. Jokes aside, it is not actually a prank at all, but an attack on the constitutional liberties of generations of South Dakotans.
Not only do the landowners feel threatened by the possible use of eminent domain by a private company, but they also feel betrayed by the elected officials, whom they have elected to protect their rights, have voted against bill after bill after bill to protect them from this pipeline company and the loss of their property rights. If we are all honest with ourselves, this pipeline is just the beginning and is part of a bigger issue. I represent District 3, mainly the city of Aberdeen, and I ask you this question: when will it be your house or your business or your church taken by eminent domain because someone else determines what is best use of that property?
We as elected officials have been told this will be so good for “economic development.” When people who want to move to our state find out that one of their basic rights, property rights, is not being defended from a private company, they won’t move here. What makes moving to South Dakota desirable is that we honor freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And owning land and working that land is someone’s pursuit of happiness. Economic development will happen when we keep our state the most desirable place to live and raise a family.
I believe a huge apology is needed from many elected officials who have been trusted by their constituents to protect these rights and many others and have failed to do so. It is not too late for political leaders across the state to protect our constitutionally-protected rights.
Brandei Schaefbauer represents District 3 in the South Dakota House of Representatives.