The Roanoke Times has published an article, titled “Pipeline Easement Agreements Stir Questions, Strong Feelings,” that takes a close look at how easement agreements are proceeding for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). The article reports that easement agreements have varied greatly, with compensation ranging from $1,000 to $356,880, and with some landowners signing company-drafted easement agreements without the help of legal counsel, while other landowners have hired experienced lawyers to help ensure that easement agreements protect their interests and fairly compensate them for losses in property values. Some landowners have reported unfair and deceptive negotiation tactics on the part of Coates Field Service, an Oklahoma-based company handling easement acquisitions for the MVP, while others have reported fair dealings with the same company. In Roanoke County, where opposition to the MVP has been strong, a majority of landowners continue to refuse to sign easement agreements.
Of note in the article is lawyer Chuck Lollar’s advice to landowners facing the prospect of easement agreements and land seizure through eminent domain: Lollar recommends that landowners approach easement agreements with caution and hire lawyers with experience in easement negotiations, “because the easement language MVP, ACP and other gas companies is using is broad, complicated and somewhat unlimited, and owners generally cannot understand the impact of these permanent easements on their property.” For example, company-drafted easement agreements for the MVP have included provisions that would allow the company to use any and all parts of a landowner’s property for access during construction, operation, and maintenance of the pipeline and/or the terms by which the company could transfer the easement agreement to another company in the future. An experienced lawyer can negotiate the terms of these provisions, protecting the landowner’s interests. Lollar also states that landowners who try to negotiate easement agreements without the help of an experienced lawyer risk “being grossly under-compensated.”
Friends of Nelson continues to encourage landowners to hire experienced legal counsel and to refuse easement agreements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). For more information about easement agreements and eminent domain and how to hire an eminent domain lawyer (including contact information for several eminent domain lawyers), please see our Eminent Domain page.