Larson v. Sinclair Transportation Co., 2012CO36 (May 21, 2012)

Private pipeline companies can condemn property through the governmental power of eminent domain to construct pipelines across private property. That authority was delegated to private pipeline companies in 1907. A divided Court in this case held that companies with pipelines conveying petroleum were not given that power. This case narrowly construes the statute that confers condemnation power to pipeline companies. Descriptions of “pipeline companies” are specifically enumerated in the statute and refer to electrical infrastructure, not oil. Other statutes specifically address substances that may be conveyed by companies with condemnation authority. Here, finding that “pipeline company” refers to the conveyance of any substance through a pipeline would render other specific statutes superfluous. No express or implied authority means no power to condemn.

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One response to “Larson v. Sinclair Transportation Co., 2012CO36 (May 21, 2012)

  1. If you enjoy history, I recommend Justice Hobbs’ extensive dissent that recounts practically the entire history of oil in the US. First he traced the history of the particular statute at issue in the case, starting in 1885. Next, he recounts, with a certain flair “Oil Pipeline Development in the United States,” starting with the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania in 1859. The historical journey ends with a description of the history of oil in Colorado.


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