MI House Energy Bills To Grant Oil & Gas Eminent Domain; Tax Breaks
Lansing, MI – Hearings are set to be heard Tuesday on three bills currently in the Michigan House Energy and Technology Commmittee propose to grant gas and oil companies with eminent domain authority in Michigan, plus a break on development and it limits the amount of information required to be shared with property owners.
House Bill 4885, proposed by Representative Aric Nesbit (R), would reduce state revenues from oil and gas development by dramatically reducing the severance tax on gas (from 6.6% to 4%) and oil (from 5% to 4%) enhanced recovery drilling, including the controversial fracking process.
In testimony presented to the committee, the Sierra Club said, “Fundamentally, we should not be giving tax breaks to companies who put our water at risk. On top of the environmental risks, oil companies do not need tax breaks; they are already one of the most profitable international industries, having achieved record profits both domestically and globally multiple times.”
In 2005, the Supreme Court granted eminent domain authority to municipalities to seize private property to sell to private developers. In 2006, Michigan voters responded with overwhelming support by referendum to restrict this purpose in eminent domain. Under that law, private property owners are permitted to negotiate with private companies and seek a fair market based deal, intead of being forced to protect their rights to their proerty through litigation. House Bill 5255 and 5254 give oil and gas companies exceptions to Michigan’s voter approved eminent domain restrictions.
According to the Sierra Club, HB 5255 proposed by Representative Stallworth (D) would allow oil and gas companies to take private proerty for the transportation of fossil fuels and pipeline development. It adds the transport of CO2 as one of the allowed purposes. In addition to expanding eminent domain authority, HB 5254 proposed by Representative Outman (R), limits the amount of information oil and gas companies are required to disclose to non-agricultural property owners.