Protecting private property rights in Wyoming
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
November 30, 2006
Laurie Goodman, spokesperson for the Landowners Association of Wyoming, gave a presentation in Pinedale on Wednesday, November 29th, on Wyoming’s eminent domain laws.
Eminent domain allows the forceful taking of private property by other entities to change the use of the land to another purpose, supposedly to provide a public benefit. Goodman said the state of Wyoming has some of the most liberal laws in the country regarding condemnation. These laws have been used in Wyoming to allow oil and gas industry pipelines to cross private lands, transmission lines, relocation of interstate highways, creation of shopping malls.
Due to discussions about proposing legislation to deal with the issue in the next legislative session, the Landowners Association of Wyoming is attempting to raise public awareness of the topic and rally interested people to speak up and let their opinions be known about how the laws may need to be modified to make them more fair to landowners.
Goodman said one of the concerns was that Wyoming’s eminent domain laws allow the taking of private property by other private entities for their economic gain. State law allows private homes, businesses and properties to be taken for an appraised value, rather than the replacement value, which the LAW feels is unfair. State law also limits compensation for condemned property to a minimal one-time payment, rather than ongoing use.
In her example, private, for-profit oil and gas companies pay a landowner a one-time payment for a perpetual easement across private property to transport product they make a continual profit on. LAW feels it is unfair to private property owners that they cannot also receive ongoing compensation for that right-of-way use, and are also forever restricted on what they can do with that private property thereafter.
“We want to allow private property owners to charge for the ongoing use of their land for for-profit companies making money off the use of private land while they use it,” she said.
Wyoming’s Joint Agriculture Committee has pledged to develop legislation to better define the conditions and requirements under which eminent domain may be implemented to better protect private property rights. The Land Owner’s Association of Wyoming is soliciting involvement by concerned individuals to help with the process.
Landowners Association of Wyoming, www.wyominglandowners.org