Political favoritism drove Nevada land mess....
My 4/28 LFTC post (LAND GRABS & GOV'T POWER) seems to have understated the Nevada case.
Fox News star Jeanine Pirro aired a "Dirty Harry" (12:20) segment that shows I was being gentle. Over the years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got multiple bills passed forcing transfers of private land to the federal government, to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Reid's son-in-law works in a firm that represented a Chinese company wanting to put a solar power plant--the largest one in America--in Nevada. Harry Reid's son-in-law helped locate the target land, thus helping a Chinese chum of Reid's who has hosted Reid in China. The Chinese bought the land for $4.5M, versus an appraised price ranging from $28M - $36M. The BLM, for its part, deleted the document detailing the reason for the relocations.
But tortoises in that area had to be moved, under EPA "mitigation" rules; so that BLM--now run by a longtime senior aide of Reid's--had to relocate the tortoises to enable the solar plant to be built. So they found an area 50 miles away, but it was cattle-grazing land owned by Nevada ranchers. No problem: the BLM duly condemned the properties, threatening to kill the cattle if they were not relocated. The cattle would have to move, so the tortoises could take their place.
And oh, Reid intervened on behalf of his top donor to have BLM redraw the boundaries of the state's tortoise habitat so as to facilitate his donor-pal's land development.
THAT is the background against which the recent court cases took place. The judges sided with the Chinese company--and the firm employing Harry Reid's son-in-law.
A shady political deal is what engendered rancher resistance. The government's response was to send in SWAT teams. The BLM only relented when unfavorable publicity put Harry Reid in a bad light.
Which brings us back to the execrable 2005 Kelo v. New London condemnation saga, in which the Supreme Court held that a governments can condemn private property in league with developers, under the rationale of "economic development." Charlotte Allen recently wrote "Kelo" Revisited for The Weekly Standard. She detailed how the government shoved around the powerless, forcing them to leave their homes, all for naught in the end, when developers failed to follow through on building plans. The "economic development" that impressed five justices never came to pass.
Bottom Line. Condemnation proceedings should rare. The potential for abuse is rife. Just compensation--fair market value purchase in short order--should be the rule.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Economy, Conservative Politics