I'm a Democrat and I represent all five counties impacted by Northwestern Energy's Mountain States Transmission Intertie project on the Montana Public Service Commission.
I am writing in strong opposition to House Bill 198, legislation which would, given current Montana law, virtually hand over the right of eminent domain to private individuals and corporations for private benefit and gain. To make a long story short, Northwestern Energy's MSTI project, a private, "for profit" venture, would be guaranteed the right of eminent domain if HB198 is passed and signed into law. So would the Canadian Montana/Alberta Tie Line project, as well as all future high=voltage transmission developments.
Eminent domain is used by government to obtain property to meet important public needs for public uses that directly benefit the public and promote the public good. The Interstate highway system is a perfect example.
However. private corporations would be virtually guaranteed the right of eminent domain, the legal right to take private property, if HB198 becomes law — not for a public need and not for a public use, but for their own private economic benefit and gain. It would make the "right" of corporate eminent domain so strong and controlling that everyday Montanans would have virtually no power or recourse to protect their property rights.
This isn't my Montana. If it isn't yours, please leave a message (vote "no" on HB198) for your Montana state senator at 406-444-4800.
John Vincent, District 3
Montana Public Service Commissioner