Category Archives: Eminent Domain

A Look at Easement Negotiations

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

“The ACP in a Nutshell”


Thomas Hadwin, who spoke on February 12, 2017, in both Buckingham and Nelson Counties, has kindly shared his PowerPoint presentation from the workshop in Buckingham, “New Pipelines:  Do We Need Them?” (the answer is no!), as well as two other documents he has written, “Purpose and Need for the ACP,” and “The ACP in a Nutshell.” In “The ACP in a Nutshell” he carefully refutes Dominion’s inflated claims of local economic benefits, reminds us that, “The Department of Energy states that adequate capacity exists in the existing pipeline system to serve this region throughout the multi-decade planning horizon of their studies,” notes that, if built, “ratepayers would pay higher transport fees for the ACP compared to existing pipelines,” and concludes that eminent domain requires landowners “to sacrifice their individual interest in order to serve the greater public good. In this case, the greater public good is better served both economically and environmentally by using existing pipelines.”

For additional information and resources by Thomas Hadwin, see “Atlantic Coast Pipeline: A Question of Need.”  This story map posted by Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition includes detailed charts and information.

Action Alert on Eminent Domain

Dominion is fond of proclaiming their concern for landowners – if push comes to shove will Dominion put their money where their mouth is? Will our legislators? Thanks to Friends of Wintergreen for organizing this action!


URGENT — HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS FIGHT PIPELINE TYRANNY

If you live in one of the following Virginia counties, you and your neighbors could be victims of eminent domain abuse UNLESS YOU ACT NOW:

Augusta, Bath, Brunswick, Buckingham, Chesapeake, Craig, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Franklin, Giles, Greensville, Highland, Montgomery, Nelson, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, Roanoke, Southhampton, Suffolk

Governor McAuliffe and Virginia legislators must require that the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines use Virginia (and not Federal) courts for any eminent domain proceedings against Virginia landowners, farmers, businesses, and families. Virginia courts give landowners more rights.

Click the image below to send a personalized email NOW. Takes only 30 seconds.

Pipeline Fighters

Watch the trailer for Pipeline Fighters, a 98 minute feature length documentary, featuring Jane Kleeb, the XL pipeline killer, and Lorne Stockman of Oil Change International, a watch dog group, and Mekasi Camp-Horinek, a protest coordinator for Standing Rock in N.D. – plus specific footage on the ACP and MVP, and appearances by some familiar local pipeline fighters.

The trailer is here, further information, including purchase info, is here.

Read about the making of the film and the film’s director in this Roanoke Times article.

Dominion Caught Off Guard by Landowner Outrage

During a panel at the Republican Party of Virginia Advance in Richmond on December 12, 2016, “representatives of energy giant Dominion Resources were caught off guard … by landowners outraged over the company’s threatened use of eminent domain in the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Bruce McKay, Senior Energy Policy Director of Dominion, struggled to explain the utility’s position to an increasingly skeptical audience….

“The property owners definitely stirred up a hornet’s nest that Dominion wasn’t expecting. Outside the panel room the property rights advocates clashed with event officials. They were forbidden from raising their signs opposing eminent domain. Henry Howell, an attorney representing the landowners, passionately argued about the importance of property rights to all Americans, especially for Republicans, and called out the hypocrisy of the aggression towards the property owners.

“Multiple questions were submitted by attendees who voiced their concern about using eminent domain for the ACP. McKay was visibly flustered at the number of questions posed on the subject, then played dodgeball. He threw out confusing rules and facts to try to make it seem impossible to change the current pipeline plans.”

Landowners didn’t buy the dodge, and even members of the public confronted Dominion.

Read the full article here.

Augusta County ACP Route Landowner Meeting

If you are an Augusta County landowner with land in the footprint of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline or any access roads, please join Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Augusta County Alliance on Thursday, December 15, 2016, at 6:30 pm at the Augusta County Government Center. Come learn your rights as a landowner, and how you can join together as a community to stand strong against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Despite what you might have heard, this pipeline is not a done deal. You have rights as a landowner. We want to help you understand those rights.

Dominion does not have the right to an easement through your property UNLESS the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) grants it the power of eminent domain. That has not happened. Even if FERC ultimately grants Dominion the right of eminent domain (still far from certain), landowners have significant rights to protect their property and ensure that they are paid the true value of the highest and best use of their property.

There will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Part of the evening will be devoted to an exploration of how Augusta County landowners can organize and gather strength in numbers in a united effort to resist this pipeline.

Please note that this meeting is specifically focused on landowners. We appreciate the strong community involvement throughout our region, and encourage non-landowners to focus their energy on other meetings that will continue to happen throughout the coming months.

This meeting is co-hosted by the Augusta County Alliance and Appalachian Mountain Advocates. Both are non-profit organizations which are focused on protecting this unique region. Neither group is seeking payment from anyone who attends this meeting.