Last week, conservative lawmakers who regularly promise voters that they’re “creating a smaller, smarter state government” did the exact opposite and expanded government reach. The administration passed legislation allowing oil corporations to force private property owners to give them legal rights to their land in order to place carbon dioxide pipelines on their property, or be forced to go to court. The legislation also gives more tax breaks to oil companies.
Landowners in conservative Livingston County, like Beth Duman, are no strangers to the invasive process of replacing and repairing underground pipelines like the ones that would be used under the new law. In a Detroit Free Press article, Beth describes the experience saying “Basically, we did not have use of our property for a whole year” and that it was like having “a foreign army in our backyard for a year.” Residents in the area who chose to fight the pipeline construction were still battling in court almost two years later.
Not only will individuals whose property is infringed upon by oil corporations have to deal with being forced to give up legal rights to their land, but they’ll also have to worry about potential negative health impacts from a type of oil recovery that puts our Great Lakes, rivers, and streams at risk.
Rather than making long-term investments in Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges, making sure that children have access to a high quality education, and working to protect public health, conservatives are siding with corporate polluters over the hardworking Michiganders who elected them into office. Our elected leaders are supposed to be looking out for us, the voters, not oil corporations who have armies of lawyers and lobbyists to advance their interests.
With only seven months left until November elections, its unforgivably clear that the conservatives like Rick Snyder have chosen to support their corporate donors at the expense of property rights for their constituents. The question remains: Will conservative voters notice that, under current leadership, only those with the deepest pockets get a say in our government?