Casey Amendment to Block Gov't Taking Farmland for Transmission Towers

Amendment would bar use of eminent domain on farmland

WASHINGTON, DC- During Wednesday’s scheduled mark-up of the 2007 Farm Bill, the Senate Agriculture Committee will consider an amendment by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) that would protect farmland from the proposed National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (NIETC).  The amendment would prohibit the use of eminent domain in placing electric transmission towers on vital agriculture lands.  Three-quarters of Pennsylvania, 52 out of 67 counties, has been designated part of the NIETC. 

“Pennsylvania’s agricultural community should not be steamrolled by a fast-track process in the federal government,” said Casey.  “My amendment would not prohibit the placing of the transmission towers under the NIETC, but it makes sure that the federal government does not enable the use of eminent domain to take away farmland from property owners.”

Much of Pennsylvania’s rural regions were included in the Department of Energy’s NIETC designation.  Once this corridor is finalized, any power company can start a process that could circumvent local and state siting processes and go directly to the federal government to condemn farmland and construct transmission towers.  Senator Casey believes that because of the significant impact this could have on rural communities and farmers, the placing of the towers should be done in coordination with their local communities and state government.  

As it stands right now, the power lines would largely affect rural communities and would have a significant impact on Pennsylvania’s agriculture community, which is its number one industry.

Earlier this month, U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey expressed their disappointment regarding the Department of Energy’s final designation of NIETC in a letter to the Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman.  Senator Casey has also requested to meet with Secretary Bodman to discuss this issue.  During a meeting last week with Assistant Secretary of Energy Kevin Kolevar, Senator Casey expressed his opposition to the designation of 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties as part of the NIETC.

This amendment is supported by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

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