Following the same basic legal principles as the Montana Supreme Court for the MATL, the Colorado Supreme Court read an authorization statute as not delegating the power of condemnation for the acquisition of a high-pressure petroleum pipeline in Colorado.
Statutes must be closely followed. A basic rule of law by all Courts throughout the United States is that there needs to be a clear implication if not a direct authorization granting the power of condemnation.
Eminent domain is strictly construed in every jurisdiction. It is perceived to be a harsh remedy. Courts in almost every jurisdiction have felt that private interest must be protected.
Amidst landowner safety concerns, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed an appeals court decision that would have granted a Wyoming pipeline company authority to condemn property to build a high-pressure petroleum pipeline to a Commerce City, Colo. refinery.
Pipeline authorities argue the decision will affect future investment in the state, and even the judges were strongly divided on the issue. Those in favor of overturning the appeals court decision said though pipelines are clearly listed for eminent domain, oil or petroleum were not expressly mentioned in the law as things those pipelines would convey. They say the Colorado legislature did not intend to include oil and gasoline pipelines in laws created to give railroads and utilities the rights to condemn the property of uncooperative landowners.
"None of these sections expressly authorizes a pipeline company to condemn property to construct, maintain or operate a petroleum pipeline," the majority opinion reads. "In fact, neither the word petroleum nor the word oil is found anywhere."