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“All of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land [Obama’s] administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half. If I’m president, I’ll double them and bring the oil offshore from Alaska and I’d bring that pipeline in from Canada … I want to make America, North America, energy independent so we can create jobs.” Among the many contentious points of discussion during last night’s presidential debate was TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Obviously, a number of questions and criticisms arise in response to last night’s debate on these issues.

However, in speaking for or against these issues of progress versus sustainability, one particular player in the game was left unnoticed: the landowners. Not once in the debate did either Governor Romney or President Obama mention the property rights of land and business owners who face the real consequences of these projects. Furthermore, only a select few social media outlets even mention this controversial subject. Instead, we speak of tax reforms and the structure of the economy. We speak of health care and education. Don’t get me wrong; all of these issues are important, but how does anyone successfully solve a problem by looking at it only from the outside in? Our political leaders need to address the issues that concern our nation by pressing past the barriers of the outside perspective. Looking inside out, we find how cuts or increases in taxes can affect asset value, interest rates, and incentives to invest. We see how the trickle-down effect of the economy never reaches the average middle class landowner. Changes in health care policies may affect how landowners respond to oil spills, like the 12 suffered by Keystone XL just last year.

There is no right way to make policies, but there is a way to ensure the basic rights of property owners. The answer is a middle ground. We must abandon partisan bias and focus on the real issues at hand with an eye that sees from the inside out rather than the outside in. In the end, it is the landowners’ rights that must be protected.