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Opinion: Missouri Farm Bureau responds to Grain Belt Express editorial

The recent op-ed by Ray McCarty: “The continuous fight against Grain Belt Express undermines energy security and ignores inflation” falls flat for the Missouri Farm Bureau members who farm, ranch, live, and work across northern Missouri in the path of Invenergy’s Grain Belt Express high-voltage merchant transmission line.

McCarty claims legislative efforts to protect private property are just a “tired annual ritual.” However, to our members, it’s about making sure their land cannot be taken by eminent domain for private gain.

While McCarty correctly states Grain Belt Express would provide electricity to consumers in at least 39 communities, that only accounts for a mere 6 percent of the project’s power. From its inception, this transmission line’s purpose was to help meet the East Coast’s insatiable demand for green energy and has no intention of serving very many Missourians at all.

Missouri Farm Bureau is thankful for the leadership of Rep. Mike Haffner and Sen. Jason Bean in sponsoring HB 2005 and SB 1211 to require electric corporations to drop off a minimum of 50 percent of their power to Missourians to be eligible to use eminent domain. Missouri Farm Bureau members do not believe it is acceptable to force landowners to negotiate with electrical corporations with the threat of condemnation looming over their heads when these projects do not primarily serve the public needs of Missourians.

This important legislation will also make sure landowners are fairly compensated for their land, much of which has been in the same family for generations. McCarty may view this as “playing politics,” but these bills give landowners a fighting chance against electrical corporations by requiring them to pay 150 percent of fair market value in condemnation proceedings. This is a key protection as we’ve already seen Grain Belt Express take its first landowner to court late last year.

We can all agree energy security is critical. In fact, for many years Missouri Farm Bureau members have called for an all-of-the-above energy strategy to secure our American energy independence. Farmers and ranchers are an important voice in this conversation, as producers of feedstocks for renewable fuels and partners in wind and solar projects. When it comes to power transmission, however, we simply believe Missouri should not be the interstate highway for the Green New Deal.

We will not rest until meaningful safeguards are in place to protect landowners in the path of Grain Belt Express and similar projects. Missouri Farm Bureau thanks the Missouri House of Representatives for passing this common-sense legislation once again this year, and we urge the Missouri Senate to follow suit.