Why I Don’t Think Conservatives Should Be Happy About The Keystone XL Pipeline

Recently the news has been full of stories about how Obama has run out of reasons to oppose the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

I can understand why Obama can support the pipeline; I don’t understand why conservatives support it.

Yes I am all energy abundance. I want that oil from Canada transported and brought to market. I think hydrocarbons are a gift from God and we are being ungrateful when we don’t use them.

But I also believe in property rights.

The premise of the Keystone XL Pipeline is the power of the government to inflict eminent domain. For example, consider this story from September:

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline faces a court challenge in Nebraska, where three property owners contend state lawmakers gave the governor illegal power to take away their land for the project.

The Nebraska Legislature transferred to Governor Dave Heineman and, through him, to Calgary-based pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. (TRP), its authority over eminent domain in violation of the state constitution’s separation of powers, the landowners said in a court filing.

Today they asked Judge Stephanie Stacy in Lincoln, the state capital, to strike down that legislation.

“The legislature is not empowered to delegate power to a private company at the expense of its residents,” their lawyer, David Domina, told Stacy today.

The Keystone XL pipeline, which has also triggered lawsuits challenging eminent domain in Texas, would connect Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

I am pro-energy and pro-industry but I am also pro-property and pro-freedom. I want my energy to come to me through willing transactions that are mutually beneficial to all who are involved. I don’t want to get a slightly lower gas price because a few people had their land taken away from them against their will. That isn’t the free market; it is fascism. That is especially true when a company gets to make money because the government forces others to relinquish their property at the price the government deems to be fair.

Any prosperity that comes through the violation of property rights is unjust and it will eventually turn into poverty. Energy is important but property rights are essential.