Prominent Area as Climate Policy: From Target to Potential Tool for Expanding Renewable Energy Projects | Husch Blackwell LLP

For renewable energy projects to gain traction on a larger scale in the United States, significant investments must be made in building the required underlying infrastructure, including a sustainable green grid across the country.

Prominent area, the government’s right to expropriate private property for public purposes with fair compensation, has always been the fossil fuel industry’s go-to tool to build and expand its vast pipeline network by securing the plots of land. land needed for the construction of the pipeline. . The eminent domain is a controversial concept and has been a popular target for environmentalists seeking to slow the expansion of fossil fuel pipelines. Recent examples include the PennEast Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

This legal concept, however, may soon become a boon for those same climate activists who seek to promote pro-renewable energy policies. In order to meet the ambitious goals recently announced by the Biden administration, infrastructure will need to be built to transport renewable energy from where it is produced to where it is needed. Unlike oil and gas, electricity can only be transmitted through power transmission lines, hence the need to build interstate power lines nationwide.

For the eminent domain to be valid, the project must serve a public purpose for the community where the land is appropriate. In the case of interstate power lines, however, the lines in question will likely carry power through one state to supply another destination, which limits the validity of the eminent domain argument. In comparison, companies that build gas pipelines gain their eminent domain authority at the federal level, through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Once approved, they are granted eminent domain authority in any state they need to build in, rather than having to go through the laborious state-by-state process.

Soon, policies in prominent areas will need to evolve to align with renewable energy policies in order for a complete overhaul of the grid system to be achievable. State and federal lawmakers will eventually need to address the problem by revising the definition of “public use” to include power lines that carry renewable electricity.

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