Michigan isn’t the only state actively considering how existing eminent domain laws relate to new transmission lines. After hotly-contested legislative debates, Montana HB 198 is now on Governor Brian Schweitzer’s desk. According to recent news reports, the Governor will sign the bill.
A legislative fix in the form of HB 198 came after a court enjoined transmission line developer Tonbridge Power Inc. of Toronto from constructing the line. According to the court, non-utility developers like Tonbridge did not have eminent domain authority under then-existing Montana law to take private property for a public purpose. HB 198, which can be read here, expands condemnation authority to those non-utility parties that have received a certificate under Title 70, Chapter 30 of Montana law.
HB 198 has been criticised for not including more to protect landowner rights. Governor Schweitzer, however, has defended the bill; he asserts that passage is necessary in order to protect an estimated 1,575 jobs associated with construction of the transmission line.