Mitt Romney on Property Rights
New Hampshire Debate
In June of 2011, Governor Romney was asked about eminent domain during the Republican debate in New Hampshire. He stated that he opposed the use of eminent domain to seize land for private industry.
DISTASO: Thank you, John.
Congressman Paul, this is for you. John, if you don't mind, I'd also like to hear from Governor Romney and a couple of the candidates, because it relates to a specific New Hampshire issue with a national question.
Here in New Hampshire, there is a popular bill that is being considered by our state legislature that would restrict the state's power to seize private land to build a power plant or a transmission facility. Should governments at any level be able to use eminent domain for major projects that will reduce America's dependence on foreign oil?
PAUL: No. We -- we shouldn't have that power given to the government where they can take private land and transfer it to a private industry. The eminent domain laws are going to vary in different states, but we have the national eminent domain laws. It was never meant to take it from some people, private owners, and then take it and give it to a corporation because it's going to help that locality.
And this goes back to the basic understanding of property rights. Property and free society should be owned by the people, and it shouldn't be regulated to death by the governments, whether it's Washington, D.C., or local governments.
Right now, we really don't own our land. We just pay rent on our land and we listen to all these regulations. So I would say that courts should get out of the way, too. They should not have this right to take land from individuals to provide privileges for another group.
DISTASO: Governor Romney, you're a property owner in New Hampshire. You are a New Hampshire property owner, but you also are for reducing our dependence on foreign oil. There are a lot of people in the state who are concerned about this project, but they also want to have energy independence. How do you feel about that?
ROMNEY: Well, I don't believe that land should be taken -- the power of government to give to a private corporation. And so the right of eminent domain is a right which is used to foster a public purpose and public ownership for a road, highways, and so forth. And so my view is, if land is going to be taken for purposes of a private enterprise, that's the wrong way to go.
Now, the right answer for us to have energy independence is to start developing our own energy in this country, and we're not doing that. We -- we have a huge find with natural gas; 100 years of new natural gas has been found. More drilling for oil, natural gas, clean coal. We have coal in great abundance, nuclear power ultimately, and all the renewables. But it's time for us to have a president who really cares about finally getting America on track for energy security.