PennEast Pipe Gives Holdout Landowners Feb 5 Deadline to Sign

It took over three years, but finally PennEast Pipeline received a full, final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) two weeks ago (see FERC Grants Final Approval for PennEast Pipe – Real Battle Begins). PennEast is a $1 billion, 120-mile primarily 36-inch natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Dallas (Luzerne County), PA to Transco’s pipeline interconnection near Pennington (Mercer County), NJ. The pipeline is an important conduit to move gas from the prolific gas fields of northeastern PA to markets in southeast PA and New Jersey. There has been plenty of opposition, mostly whipped up by Big Green groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the nutty Sierra Clubbers of NJ. PennEast has been (for years) negotiating with landowners along the pipeline’s proposed route, to purchase easements. Some 75% of landowners have either signed leases and/or allowed survey access of their property. Some landowners apparently bought in to the Big Green lie that this project won’t happen, so they have refused to negotiate or allow survey access. Time has now run out. With the FERC certificate in hand, PennEast can now go to court and request eminent domain proceedings against the holdouts. PennEast has sent letters to the holdouts telling them they have until Feb. 5 to accept the generous offer PennEast has made. After that, the landowners can expect to receive court paperwork telling them to allow access. What generally happens is that (a) a court order appears granting PennEast access to the property now, and (b) months or even over a year later, a judge will decide what a fair value is (typically less than being offered by PennEast) for the lease. The holdouts should have known this day was coming, but denial is a powerful emotion…

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