LANDOWNER ACTIONS

(Nothing on these pages should be construed as legal advice. Please contact a lawyer to review your case and determine when legal intervention is needed. Not sure where to start? See thoughts to consider below, and  Contact MassPLAN for advice. )

• LANDOWNERS — DENY ACCESS

— If representatives of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company or their parent company Kinder Morgan approach you about permission to survey your property, SAY NO.  It will slow the process and let them know right away that you don’t approve of the project.  Letting your town’s Planning Board or Conservation Commission know can also be important information that they’re not getting from the company.
Even if they don’t approach you, you can send the Deny Permission to Survey letter.

— If you’ve already said yes to surveying, you have a right to rescind permission by Rescind Permission to Survey to the company. Feel free to print this one out and use it!
We have many more available, to rescind or deny permission, for individuals, towns & cities to use.

REMEMBER TO SEND THESE LETTERS BY CERTIFIED MAIL, so you can confirm that they have received it.  Also file them with FERC on the docket, so FERC knows you’ve said no.

— If they start to mention the option of taking the easement on your property by eminent domain, don’t be intimidated.  Since they are only in the survey and planning stage, they are still far from the point of taking your land.  We still have time to fight the project and you have time weigh your legal options.
Here’s one article from someone who held out for eminent domain by choice, but there are differing opinions about whether this takes away your choice in what path it can take through your property.
» See “Sign or Else! What Should I Do?”

» WHAT TO DO IF SURVEYORS COME ANYWAY

— As landowners, it’s important to understand the process.
After surveying and coming up with exact maps, the gas company then has to apply for a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The steps of the permitting process, and the roles of the company, FERC and the general public are summarized quite well in this FERC video

FERC’s role in the process is described this way in it’s Citizen’s Guide publication:
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is charged by Congress with evaluating whether interstate natural gas pipeline projects proposed by private companies should be approved. The Federal government does not propose, construct, operate, or own such projects. The Commission’s determination whether to approve such a project may affect you if your land is where a natural gas pipeline, other facilities, or underground storage fields might be located.”

Some legal explanation of right-of-way agreements and eminent domain for landowners.

» Pipeline Safety Trust’s “Landowner’s Guide to Pipelines”

MASSACHUSETTS LAW GOVERNING EMINENT DOMAIN AND PIPELINE COMPANIES

» Carolyn Elefant – Knowing and Protecting Your Rights

 FOR LANDOWNERS AND TOWNS TO CONSIDER:
Q: Are landowners and towns paid to have the pipeline run through their property?

A: Yes.
Compensation for Landowners:
The question is, how much are they paid vs. the costs incurred by risk, potential environmental damage, pollution and loss of property value. Though no deals have been made for this pipeline yet, a rule of thumb calculation for prices usually paid, according to Atty. Jay Duffy,  is $1 x inches of diameter of pipe x ft. through your property. So if the pipeline crosses a large property the wide way, your compensation is much higher than if they just nick a corner of it.

On one property, for instance, it only crosses 50 ft. of the property, so the compensation would be $1×36″x50ft = $1,800. That’s a one-time payment. The same property has a Fannie Mae mortgage, which specifically forbids storage of hazardous or explosive materials, criteria that the pipeline meets. So yes, she may be paid $1,800 to have the pipeline on her property, but by negotiating with the pipeline company and allowing it, she would be negating the terms of her mortgage, and would have to pay off the balance immediately.

Even if you have a substantial crossing of your property, say 3,000 ft. resulting in $108,000, how much is your property worth? If it becomes unsellable in the market, would this compensation make up for it?  If the value of your equity drops even 10% is this enough to make up for it?  Will your insurance and/or mortgage agreements be voided?  With a blast radius of 900-1,000 ft. on either side of the pipeline, will you feel that you or your property are safe?

Compensation for Towns:
What towns needs to keep in mind if they’re offered compensation is how does is balance with a drop in property values (Forensics Appraisal Group records 10-30% drop nationwide when a pipeline crosses a property), and if the amount being paid to the town will help when something like this happens.

The initial tax payment offers from pipeline companies often look lucrative, but abatement for depreciation is often sought starting in the second year, and sometimes it can be substantial.

When considering how much the town should be compensated, it’s important to keep public safety and emergency response expenses in mind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7Sjl_x3fs0

Sissonville, WV explosion of 20″ diameter gas transmission line. BTW – this pipeline is less than 1/3 the volume that NED would be.

There are several of explosions like this a year on average  [about one “signficant incindent” on gas transmission lines a week (not necessarily on this scale)], so though kind of rare, it’s not unreasonable to consider from a safety perspective.