The Missouri House of Representatives gave first approval Tuesday to a bill that could effectively kill the Grain Belt Express, a multistate renewable energy transmission power line.
The line has been the subject of heated debate in Jefferson City for more than two years. The bill focuses on preventing the use of eminent domain for its construction.
Eminent domain is the process by which the government can take private property to convert it for public use. The Grain Belt express needs eminent domain to be built. The line would transmit energy from wind turbines in Kansas to multiple midwestern states, crossing the whole state of Missouri. Opponents of the line say it should not qualify for eminent domain, because it is not a public utility, but a merchant line.
Representative Mike Haffner sponsored the bill. He’s a republican from Cass County.
“This is a private out-of-state company using eminent domain as a public utility and there is very little benefit from the state of Missouri," he said. "Only six percent of the power will be used here.”
The Grain Belt Express has been the subject of heated debate since the Missouri Public Service Commission approved the project in 2019. The approval was challenged but the state’s supreme court upheld it.