We’ve questioned whether Kinder Morgan should qualify for eminent domain rights for its planned Utopia pipeline. This issue has been now been brought to court and a Wood County Common Pleas judge ruled today that the company behind the Utopia East pipeline project does not have eminent domain rights, throwing a potentially expensive roadblock into the project’s path.
“It’s probably the most important eminent domain case in the United States right now,”
Judge Robert Pollex ruled that Kinder Morgan’s plan to pipe ethane from the Utica shale region in eastern Ohio to a chemical company in Windsor, Ont., is not necessary and not for a public use, and thus the company cannot use eminent domain to force Wood County landowners to give easements on their property.
He ruled that Kinder Morgan’s proposed project is not necessary or for public use, and does not qualify as a common carrier, because only the Canadian company would directly benefit. He also expressed incredulity that state law allows private companies to essentially grant themselves eminent domain rights.