Draft Paper by Professor Somin Disputes Environmentalist Support of Kelo

A draft paper by Professor Ilya Somin and law Professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University calls support of environmentalists for the June 2005 Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London "misguided," concluding that the court's holding could have the unintended consequence of leading local entities to condemn privately owned, environmentally sensitive land in order to use the property for economic development projects.

Draft Paper Says Kelo May Cause Environmental Harm to Private Land, Inside the EPA, April 14, 2006.

While the Kelo decision has generated backlash from a host of lawmakers and property rights activists seeking to curb local governments' powers of eminent domain, it has generally drawn praise from environmentalists, who argue that the ruling affirms a critical tool for localities to redevelop rundown areas and combat urban sprawl.

"But the paper disputes the environmentalists' assessment of Kelo. One of the authors also suggests the paper could help state lawmakers consider supporting restrictions on eminent domain as a host of states are considering legislation to blunt the impact of the ruling. In a 5-4 decision last year in Susette Kelo, et al. v. City of New London, et al., the Supreme Court upheld the city's eminent domain power under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution for taking private land for "economic development" purposes.

"The authors, who say The Green Costs of Kelo is the first academic paper to "systematically consider" the environmental impact of the ruling, argue that the court's holding could increasingly lead local entities to condemn privately owned, environmentally pristine land in order to acquire the property for economic development activities. They say localities could use eminent domain to target land trusts that are off limits to developers -- including 60 percent of the nation's forests -- for economic development projects."