In 2020 Republican Senator Sharon Hewitt authored and facilitated the passage of legislation that declares that the practice of “carbon capture and sequestration” (CCS) is a “public good” as a matter of Louisiana public policy. As such, private energy companies may now seize the private property of Louisiana citizens in order to transport carbon dioxide that has been “captured” from the atmosphere, eventually to be stored underground on private land. The general practice is known as eminent domain and is based in the last clause of the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution.
The original purpose of the Amendment was to provide a way for the government to use eminent domain to gain rights to private property upon a specific showing that such property is needed to serve a substantial public use or benefit, such as the construction of a vital water system or a bridge that facilitates transportation for the general public.
Under Hewitt’s law, however, the use of eminent domain in Louisiana has been dangerously expanded to not just include, but to favor, private companies. This means that whatever rights private property owners previously had in opposing the expropriation of their land have been further eroded. No longer will a specific showing of public necessity be required, and no longer will the government be required to initiate the process. The fundamental right of private property is now subordinated, by law, to broad scale carbon capture and sequestration by private entities. The law now presumes in favor of the corporate seizure of private property and presumes against private property rights. This is dangerous, and scary.
In response, Rep. Robby Carter has offered House Bill 10, which would repeal current law. If it passes, private companies would be prohibited from using eminent domain to acquire property rights without the property owner’s consent. This legislation is extremely critical, as it would reassert the paramount importance of private property rights in Louisiana, and that those rights may not be subjugated to corporate interests, without the express approval of property owners.
Regardless of how you may feel about the whole carbon capture enterprise, or about the actual reality of man- caused climate change, we should all be able to agree that private property is a value that is worth standing up for in the face of corporate interests whose desire for profits is thinly concealed behind the façade of protecting the environment.
Please contact the following members of the House Natural Resources Committee and urge your strong support for House Bill 10, and follow the legislation all the way through the legislative process, making your voice heard all the way: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
This is among the most important bills of the 2023 legislative session, if you care about individual freedom and liberty. It is very important that it becomes law. Pay attention, by name, to any Republican legislator who does not support it, on record. That will tell us a lot. If they are one of yours, you should remember that come time for re-election.
J. Christopher Alexander Louisiana Citizen Advocacy Group