In another sign of growing discontent with Dominion Resources, the Augusta County, Virginia Farm Bureau last month approved a resolution blasting the company’s plans to use the power of eminent domain in the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).  The ACP would transport natural gas from West Virginia through central Virginia and into North Carolina.  Dominion is the lead developer of the project.

While many Virginians welcome improvements to the Commonwealth’s energy infrastructure, the use of eminent domain by a private company on private land is increasingly seen as an affront to property rights.  Augusta County is one of several Virginia counties whose rich agricultural lands lie directly in the path of the ACP.

The wording of the resolution is as follows:

The Augusta County Farm Bureau (ACFB) opposes the use of eminent domain for the construction of natural gas pipeline projects across private property.  Because such projects adversely affect ground water, crop production, livestock health, public safety, our agricultural heritage, and common natural treasures, they should only be allowed with the freely-given consent of the landowner and proper and appropriate compensation.  Therefore the Augusta County Farm Bureau opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline or similar transmission pipelines.  Further, the ACFB urges the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation to adopt the same policy.”  

By threatening to use the blunt instrument of eminent domain to bludgeon farmers and other landowners into submission, Dominion is showing it is prepared to act as a bully rather than behaving as a responsible corporate citizen. Eminent domain puts the farmer is a position where he will be “made an offer he can’t refuse.”  That may have worked well for the Corleone family, but why would Dominion want to conduct its business in that fashion?  Instead, Dominion should pledge NOT to use the power of eminent domain so that affected landowners can negotiate with the company as equals, and not as supplicants.