OH Judge Rules in Case on Ethane Pipeline Survey

MDN highlighted a story last week in which Enterprise Products Partners, the company building a new ethane pipeline across Ohio, sued a farmer to gain access to his land in order to survey it to chart a route for the pipeline (see this MDN story). The farmer offered alternative routes to avoid prime hay fields but Enterprise turned him down. A common pleas court judge, on Friday, sided with…

A common pleas court judge ruled a pipeline company will be allowed to do survey work on farmland off county Road 39, Bloomingdale, following a brief hearing Friday.

The company claims in its lawsuit that, as a pipeline company, it has eminent domain powers under Ohio law.

[Enterprise] has to obtain rights of way on about 1,200 tracts of land in Ohio, and is under a tight schedule so construction of the pipeline can start early next years, the lawsuit stated.

The company has already obtained permission from nearly all landowners for the survey work.

David Hyde told Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese Jr. that he has an agriculture district that he believed protected his farmland from eminent domain. But the judge told Hyde the section of state law on agriculture districts doesn’t apply to the installation of utility pipelines. The judge said there is nothing in state law to prevent Enterprise Liquids Pipeline from entering the property to do survey work.

Bruzzese put in his order allowing the survey work that Hyde can remove the survey stakes as soon as the survey is completed so as to not interfere with his farm field work.*

MDN’s view: While the ATEX Express ethane pipeline is a very important project, pipelines should not have the power of eminent domain in our opinion. Enterprise should spend a little money and go around this farmer’s hay field.

*Steubenville (OH) The Herald-Star (May 12, 2012) – Pipeline survey to proceed