Dealing with Pipeline Cos. – Lessons re Rover’s Eminent Domain

Two weeks ago MDN ran a story about the fact that time has run out on recalcitrant landowners in Ohio who have refused to negotiate with Rover Pipeline–and are now being sued using eminent domain (see Time’s Up – Rover Pipe Uses Eminent Domain on Holdout OH Landowners). Because of our nutty (or should we say batty) environmental regulations that require pipeline companies to clear trees only from Oct. 1 to Mar. 31 due to U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulations against disturbing nesting bats, and because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was slow off the mark in approving the Rover project, the company must now clear trees in double time. There is no time left to negotiate–even though landowners have had two years to do so. As a last resort, Rover is using eminent domain procedures in court to (yes) force their way onto property and get it ready for construction this summer. Perhaps a little-known fact: Rover also runs through portions of Washington County, PA. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found a couple of landowners with sad stories about the big bully Rover using eminent domain against them. Look, we’re not unsympathetic. If we owned a farm (as one of the interviewees does) and they want to run the pipeline through a prized hay field, we’d likely be opposed too. However, the story highlights the fact that others in similar circumstances worked hard early on with Rover to reroute the pipeline through their property–and were successful. The moral of the story is this: the pipeline WILL come, your best chance of influencing WHERE it comes happens EARLY in the process…

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