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If the 2016 presidential election taught us anything, it is that the American people are tired of the status quo in Washington and are ready for change.

Over the past eight years we witnessed the Obama administration use government overreach as a means to an end, usurping states' rights as a way to advance its priorities. While there is a new resident in the White House, the partnership between the Department of Energy and a private company to build a large power line across the state is a lingering reminder of the overreach that targets the rights of Arkansas landowners.

The Department of Energy's decision to partner with Clean Line Energy is a perfect example of everything wrong with the federal government. Electric transmission projects are historically approved at the state level, but after a rejected application from the Arkansas Public Service Commission to build the nearly 300-mile-long transmission line across 12 counties in our state, Clean Line ran to the Obama administration for approval and received it.

This marked the first time Washington bureaucrats have overruled a state to build this type of project. Even high-profile, controversial energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline were agreed upon by the states involved before Washington weighed in.

State and local governments have a better understanding of the impact of this type of project to citizens, the environment and future development. The Department of Energy should rely on their input. Instead, the department resorted to a small provision from a 2005 law that had never been used before to approve the project.

Arkansans are rightfully concerned about what this means for their property. To preserve states' rights and empower our citizens, the Arkansas congressional delegation reintroduced the Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Lands (APPROVAL) Act this week.

This legislation would prevent the Department of Energy from exercising the federal power of eminent domain for a transmission project without having the consent of the governor and the public service commission of the state affected by the project.

The Trump administration made a promise to the American people to give them a voice in Washington. Newly confirmed Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry has always been a strong supporter of states' rights. This is a great opportunity for President Trump and Secretary Perry to continue that commitment to Americans.

If this problem is ignored and the project is allowed to exercise the use of federal eminent domain, the Trump administration would be setting a very dangerous precedent.

I will continue working to halt the project, not just because it violates the property rights of Arkansans, but also because it violates the rights of all Americans to have their voices heard at the state and local level.

We hope the Trump administration and Secretary Perry can appreciate our concerns and work with us to fight against this remaining overreach of the Obama administration.


John Boozman is the senior U.S. senator for the state of Arkansas.

Editorial on 03/11/2017

Print Headline: For states' rights


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Archived Comments

  • JakeTidmore
    March 11, 2017 at 2:57 a.m.

    Actually, Mr Boozman, we're ready for congressmen who will show up at town halls and face their constituents instead of hiding behind phone call screens.
    Instead of bloviating about states rights, let's instead talk about citizens rights to have a face-to-face meeting with their representatives in congress, to speak out their feelings about some of the upcoming legislation, to demand answers and explanations, and to voice concerns over issues that affect our lives.
    Don't you dare talk to us about any kind of rights when you ignore the most basic of our rights to hold you accountable in a public forum. It is hard to believe were supposedly a nation that is free and brave when cowards such as you are chosen as one of our leaders.
    You, certainly, are not brave, and your absence hinders our freedom.

  • TimberTopper
    March 11, 2017 at 4:36 a.m.

    You know this article is really strange, in a way. He talks about States Rights, and property owners rights, and uses the electric power line in his example. But, he fails to mention all the property owners rights regarding pipelines, that are pushed aside and swept under a rug, then the pipeline goes ahead a gets government approval. Seems he's in bed with one side and not the other. Maybe he's thinking about his political party's take on the subject, or who's going to help fund his next campaign. Boozman, in life, you are a failure. You believe in nothing but helping John Boozman, the coward!

  • BoudinMan
    March 11, 2017 at 6:22 a.m.

    I could not get past the lie in his opening line. The American people did not give the short-fingered vulgarian a majority victory. To make the statement true, the word "some" would have to be inserted into the sentence.

  • 23cal
    March 11, 2017 at 8:20 a.m.

    John Boozman: I hear Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to crack down on the states whose laws allow marijuana. What about those "states rights", since you are so concerned about states rights?

  • PopMom
    March 11, 2017 at 9:45 a.m.

    After a few weeks of Trump and his clowns, the American people are again ready for a change in the status quo. In fact, the Republicans were not given a mandate, and yet, they want to cram extreme conservatism down our throats. The far right only wants state rights when it is convenient for them. What about the states who want laws which are more liberal? What happens when the feds allow some states such as West Virginia to dump their coal dust into rivers which terminate in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay? A pox on the houses of all the far right extremists who want to cut taxes for the rich, end healthcare for the poor, and allow corporations to pollute at will. They sit back in their offices while they screw the poor and the minorities. Come out and face the public!

  • carpenterretired
    March 11, 2017 at 10:03 p.m.

    Boozman must be a tad slow with math as 2,860,000 more Americans voted for Hillary than Trump.

    March 11, 2017 at 11:27 p.m.

    "States' rights."

    Talk about a dog whistle aimed at, know.

  • BirdDogsRock
    March 12, 2017 at 11:50 a.m.

    Ditto to 23's observation about Boozman inconsistency in trashing states' rights regarding voter-approved marijuana legalization.
    I wonder if the Arkansas delegation's vocal disapproval of energy transmission in this case has to do with the energy originating from sources that are not fossil fuels. Republicans seem determined to stop at nothing to get oil pipelines approved and built, but are pretending to stand tall against electric transmission lines carrying renewable wind energy. I readily admit that all forms of energy have pros and cons, but the playing field remains tilted steeply against alternative forms of energy. In this case I detect the odor of Republican institutional bias for fossil fuels.