Governor Branstad has found himself in the middle of a great deal of controversy over the Bakken Pipeline that is about to run through the heart of Iowa farmland to benefit a private corporation, based in Texas, that has economic ties to his friends.
Personally, like 64 percent of Iowans, I don’t have a problem with a private company putting a pipeline across Iowa so long as they pay for it and as long as they don’t rely on the taxpayers to clean up any damages it causes. What I and 74 percent of Iowans do have a problem with is a private company using big government to declare eminent domain to steal the property rights of farmers so they can run their pipeline across our state for their own monetary gain.
Some people have compared the pipeline with the state using eminent domain to build a highway or a local utility pipeline. It is not the same. This is a private company. It has no major benefit to the people of Iowa unlike a road, hospital, or a telephone line. It would not be right for me to start a corporation and then to get the state of Iowa to allow me onto your property so my new corporation can make a profit from your land.
The Republican Party of Iowa is in a tough position as well. In their platform, they oppose eminent domain used to benefit private companies.
We oppose federal or state government taking private property away from the owner for the use of another private party. Eminent domain should be used only for public use, and we call for Congress to overturn the Kelo (Eminent Domain) ruling.
While their platform may oppose using eminent domain to benefit a private company, their Republican Governor supports, even if only on occasion, allowing eminent domain to be used to benefit private companies. Branstad has fought to make sure that the Iowa Utilities Board makes the ultimate decision if the state of Iowa will declare eminent domain to build the pipeline. In fact, he doesn’t want the state legislature to have any say in the matter. Want to take a guess on who appoints this “independent” utilities board? You guessed it. It is Governor Branstad.
Then there was the Houston campaign event, in 2013, where Branstad held a fundraiser with former Texas Governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry. Branstad says he didn’t know about the proposed pipeline until the next year and, at this point, I have no proof that he did. Perry was later appointed to the board of directors for the company trying to get the Bakken Pipeline to run through Iowa.
Earlier in the year, Branstad’s former Chief of Staff joined the Bakken Pipeline as a paid lobbyist. Additionally, KCCI had reported in May that a large amount of the pipeline has been brought into Newton which sounds very confident when the Iowa Utilities Board won’t make their decision until at least December or January.
You can see the power private companies have over our government when compared to the local farmer wanting to keep the rights to their land. Maybe if the farmers had more money to pay lobbyists and run for political office, the state of Iowa would be a little more concerned with their rights instead of helping a private company based in Texas.