Author: Dan Engemann, MOFB Director of Regulatory Affairs

A colossal battle over private property rights is underway in the Heartland, fueled by your tax dollars. If your farm, ranch, or little piece of paradise is relatively flat, chances are the property that you’ve worked hard to acquire and maintain is being eyed by green energy developers. It seems these C-Suite executives from Chicago, New York and other big cities see your land as another means to enrich themselves.

MOFB has started calling this new artificial energy boom “the green web,” and each of the tangled threads leads to the Biden Administration. In January 2021, the President issued an executive order declaring a “government-wide approach to the climate crisis,” and nearly every move the administration makes is through this lens. President Biden has also laid out lofty climate goals for the country – achieving net-zero emissions status by 2050 and a 100 percent clean electricity sector by 2035. The latter will require the electric grid’s land use to expand by three times its current footprint. This expansion will utilize intermittent electric sources like wind and solar, which are being favored over traditional dispatchable energy sources like coal and natural gas. Despite their long-proven track record, these traditional sources of energy are being shut down at an alarming rate.

Massive climate provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act are the primary vehicles making the “green web” possible. Signed into law in 2021 and 2022, they directly fund nearly $400 billion in green energy projects, from clean electricity and transportation to electric vehicle (EV) batteries and hydrogen. According to the Wall Street Journal, some of the biggest recipients of this federal cash cow are foreign-owned businesses. This includes Japan’s Panasonic, which was granted $2 billion in tax credits per year for battery plants in Nevada and Kansas. Countries like China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will gain immensely from the production of rare earth minerals used in battery production. The latter of these two has drawn scrutiny for child labor used for extraction of these minerals – not something to be proud of.

Make no mistake, the Administration is transforming much of our daily lives. The most significant example might be the transportation sector. In August 2021, President Biden signed an executive order establishing a goal that 50 percent of new vehicles sold be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030. According to the EPA, ZEVs were projected to make up eight percent of light duty vehicles in 2022. The Administration’s climate goals will require a staggering 350 million ZEVs on the road, or 90 percent of the U.S. fleet, by 2050. If realized, that number of ZEVs alone would consume half of our aging electricity grid.

It’s under the guise of green energy, but it seems like another avenue for C-suite executives to roll right through rural America. Proposals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Authority (FERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) would usurp state permitting authority and establish national electric transmission corridors.

MOFB is pushing back. These private companies can’t get ahold of your land fast enough, as they scream that these projects are “for the public’s benefit!” We will continue to remind everyone that landowners are part of the “public” as well and will fight to make sure they are treated fairly and properly compensated under the government’s “green web” transformation.