Green energy is a pretty controversial subject these days, and not without reason. After all, it’s an industry that’s highly dependent on government subsidies and consumer mandates. But as bad as all of that is, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon just managed to find a way to make it even more objectionable. He apparently thinks eminent domain, where the government forcibly confiscates private property with compensation, is needed to advance green energy.
The Daily Caller reports:
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in his annual shareholder letter Tuesday that the government may need to seize private property to advance clean energy initiatives.
Dimon discussed the need to quickly begin investing in solar projects and other green initiatives and suggested that the government should use eminent domain to seize property for those projects.
“At the same time, permitting reforms are desperately needed to allow investment to be done in any kind of timely way. We may even need to evoke [sic] eminent domain – we simply are not getting the adequate investments fast enough for grid, solar, wind and pipeline initiatives,” Dimon wrote.
So, in other words, it’s not enough for your tax dollars to subsidize these technologies, but your property should also be snatched from you to help facilitate their advancement as well.
Let’s be clear, I know that a lot of people support green energy initiatives. However, forcibly taking people’s property for the benefit of private entities is something entirely different.
Eminent Domain itself is controversial, as it should be, yet the way it’s supposed to work is that the government takes property for public use, not private use.
While the infamous Supreme Court case Kelo vs. New London threw a bit of a monkey wrench in there, it doesn’t really change what eminent domain is supposed to be about.
Even then, it’s problematic, but at least it’s something many can stomach. Eminent domain is less objectionable when trying to expand a road to deal with high traffic or to build a school—things the general public can see a direct benefit from. Yet taking property for private initiatives that also survive in part due to taxpayer money to provide something that we, in turn, have to pay for again is asking way too much.
Luckily, there is some degree of bipartisan opposition.
The Iowa House passed a bill that would require companies to outright buy 90% of the land they need before eminent domain can even remotely be considered. While it’s not a perfect defense, it would largely put the kibosh on Dimon’s suggestion. It also had a mix of Republican and Democratic support. It also had a similar mix of opposition.
Democratic state Rep. Steven Holt who served as the floor manager for this bill, said it quite well regarding his and his colleague’s efforts:
“Regardless of the economic gain or the benefit to certain industries or groups of people, this fundamental liberty must not be for sale,” Holt said in his closing comments. “If these pipeline projects are essential to ethanol and agriculture, let them be built through voluntary easements and not by allowing the blunt force of government to be used to shatter this fundamental birthright we all share as Americans.”
Dimon may believe that green energy is for the public’s ultimate benefit, but if that’s the case, it shouldn’t be too hard to sell individual landowners on the idea of allowing companies to purchase the property and/or rights they need.
To use “the blunt force of government,” as Holt put it, to force the issue is a violation of people’s property rights—and should be opposed across the political spectrum.
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