Nebraska senator seeks to ban eminent domain for renewable energy projects

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Should public power districts have the power to take your land to build infrastructure for solar and wind energy?

That question is being raised in the Nebraska Legislature by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon.

The Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Wednesday on his Legislative Bill 255.

Right now, public power districts can use eminent domain to seize land for any critical infrastructure, not just renewable energy infrastructure.

LB 255 would ban utilities from using eminent domain for renewable energy projects.

Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha noted that eminent domain is also used to build oil pipelines and referenced the recent Keystone pipeline leak near the Kansas-Nebraska border. Almost 13,000 barrels of oil were released, killing wildlife and damaging land.

He asked Brewer if that was cause to eliminate eminent domain for pipelines.

Brewer argued that wind and solar pose a greater risk to the environment and to landowners.

“I mean, the number of birds killed, the number of bats killed, you know, the property value that’s lost,” he said. “I mean, you can go on and on on either side of this. I’m just trying to focus on who’s most likely to use it and abuse it.”

The Omaha Public Power District, the Nebraska Public Power District and the Lincoln Electric System have not used eminent domain to build any power generation facility, and representatives of the utilities testified that they don’t plan to do so.

They say they have only used eminent domain to put up power lines.

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