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Eminent domain a necessity

| Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

Pennsylvania's energy resources have given our region a competitive edge and the opportunity to deliver these resources across the commonwealth. To safely deliver those goods, Pennsylvania needs to quickly build new pipelines and upgrade existing ones. We depend on private companies to do that.

Because these private companies build infrastructure that many people need for their everyday lives, the law gives them the power of eminent domain so no one can arbitrarily stop a project that benefits many. Unfortunately, too often the debate over pipelines is fixated on the use of eminent domain to gain access to land.

The reality is that eminent domain has been around for more than a century. It was written into state law not to benefit private companies but to promote the public good — and to ensure landowners are fairly compensated.

These pipeline projects create long-term, safe access to energy resources that can power homes and businesses, attract investment and jobs, and help revive our manufacturing economy. They cannot and will not be built without limited use of eminent domain authority.

Environmental groups have already lined up landowners to block these pipelines simply because they oppose the entire natural gas industry.

We don't oppose the shale industry. In fact, we're helping to build it. Because we know that Pennsylvania businesses, consumers and residents stand to benefit from it.

James T. Kunz Jr.

The writer is business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 in O'Hara

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