Pipelines and Eminent Domain: Iowa Homeowners Push Back

Get Off My Lawn!

When the government decides its stake in a piece of property overrides the landowner’s, it has a process to take over private property. This is called eminent domain. It’s essentially the government forcing a private landowner to sell their residence or business property.

Another word for it is condemnation (which sounds even worse!). Condemnation or eminent domain cases are handled in courts, and traditionally were used for things like road-widening.

Today, some homeowners are being forced to fight a new wave of eminent domain. Residents of rural Iowa are at the core of the current conflict. Their advocates say newly proposed takings for carbon pipeline installations are really giveaways to private corporations.

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Eminent domain: An eminence front?

A simple Google image search of “eminent domain” returns countless cartoon depictions of the giant arm of Uncle Sam hovering above a modest home, while a defenseless figure guards the front door, powerless to stop the inevitable seizure of his home. Absent any context as to why the situation is occurring, the reader is sympathetic, of course, toward the homeowner. Eminent domain, it seems, typically conjures images of its land-grabbing abuses.

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