NorthWestern Energy: Negotiating Is for the Little People

I’ve rarely read a more tone deaf and arrogant comment than the one written by Northwestern Energy executive director of government affairs John Fitzpatrick, in which he explains to the little people why his company should be able to do whatever the hell it wants to private land. It reads in part:

Eminent domain laws exist for two reasons. First, to ensure that private property owners are justly compensated if their land is acquired for a public use necessary for the welfare of the citizenry. Second, to protect the public from the tyranny of a minority be they organized naysayers or people who are just uncooperative or unreasonable.
You can understand this better on a personal level by thinking about some person who’s your opponent. Imagine having to go to that individual and get permission to cross his property so that you can have electricity, water or a road. Eminent domain prevents such people from holding you hostage. It gives them an incentive to negotiate a settlement reasonable to both parties.

It’s refreshing to see a corporate interest so brazenly trumpeting its ability to get what it wants from government—and a nice change of pace from the usual veneer of corporate citizenship.

One thing is certain: NorthWestern Energy hardly has the “welfare of the citizenry” in mind. On the other hand, I’m happy to learn that NorthWestern believes that I can cross their private property whenever I need to access electricity, water, or a road.

After all, letting me cross would be the “reasonable” action, right?

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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