Category Archives: Property Values

Oil and Gas companies are making old pipelines the landowner’s problem.

From Popular Science. In the US private residents end up footing the bill to prevent further eyesores and pollution. March 10, 202.

There are some 3 million miles of natural gas pipelines buried in the US. More than half of all gas transmission lines in the country were installed before 1970, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. Those pipelines have an average lifespan of 50 years. And it’s not just old pipelines that are set to go out of service. Younger pipelines are also at risk of falling into disuse as the power sector comes to rely less on natural gas in favor of wind, solar and batteries.


No clearer sign exists that that bridge has been crossed than the cancellation of several high profile natural gas pipeline projects in the last year, including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Constitution Pipeline. What does that mean for the millions of miles of gas pipelines that are already in the ground?


The most comprehensive data on abandoned pipelines comes from Canada. In the 1980s, the Canadian government began an extensive study of abandoned pipelines, which identified a slew of serious risks to leaving them in place. Sinkholes could form as pipelines corroded and collapsed. Leftover fossil fuels, or the cleaning agents used to clear out lines, could leak out into the surrounding soil or water. Aging lines under lakes or rivers could carry water where it’s not wanted. Empty pipelines could also become slightly buoyant, relative to soil, and rise to the surface, where landscaping and signage marking a pipeline’s path is rarely maintained after it has been retired. It is not sure as to how the valving system of the pipelines have been in place, or whether the Butterfly Valves of the pipeline are still intact to keep them from spilling.


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can order a pipeline company to remove a line that’s not in use, says Carolyn Elefant, an energy and eminent domain attorney, but it doesn’t always do so.


Pipeline companies have ample incentive to leave pipelines in the ground. Removal is expensive and requires heavy equipment, permits and environmental reviews. And pipelines laid before 1980 often have the added feature of an asbestos coating that must be dealt with. It can cost almost as much to get a pipeline out of the ground as it costs to put it in the ground.

Friends of Nelson Asks FERC to Order Release of “Zombie” Pipeline” Easements

Friends of Nelson, a non-profit organization originally formed to oppose the now-cancelled Atlantic Coast Pipeline has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to release private landowners from the easements it obtained to cross their land.

Friends of Nelson cites statements by Atlantic that it does not intend to voluntarily release the easements, and has not ruled out transferring the easements to another party, saying only “it has no plans to do so at this time.” “These easements represent a severe, continuing, and — in the wake of the project’s cancellation — a totally unwarranted burden on the properties along the Pipeline’s 604-mile route,” the comment letter to FERC says, adding, “With no ‘public use’ justification remaining, FERC must ensure that landowners’ full property rights are re-stored.”

The comment letter says Atlantic and FERC bear joint responsibility for the “zombie easements,” so-called because the easements live on even though the pipeline proposal is officially dead. FERC bears responsibility because it awarded the essential certificate of “public convenience and necessity” that opened the door to Atlantic’s use of eminent domain. Faced with powerful corporations with huge financial and legal resources, most landowners felt forced to grant easements rather than take their chances in court. Atlantic is owned by Dominion Energy, Inc. and Duke Energy Corporation, two mega-corporations.

“By remaining in place even after the cancellation of the project, these easements burden landowners’ ability to use or sell their property—and also their peace of mind, due to the threat that Atlantic could someday transfer the easements to the developer of another project” the comment to FERC states.

Friends of Nelson has researched the more than 250 easements and easement modification agreements that were filed at the Nelson County Courthouse between October 2015 and July 2020. “The owner is prohibited from doing many things within the Permanent Easement,
including, but not limited to erecting structures such as a house or barn, planting
trees and moving earth. These prohibitions continue forever, even though the pipeline will never be built,” the Friends of Nelson letter to FERC says, and it cites specific examples of Nelson County landowners’ agreements that constrain the use of their land.

The Friends of Nelson’s letter to FERC asks the agency to order Atlantic to contact all owners along the pipeline’s entire 604-mile route to inform them that Atlantic will release the right-of-way easement within 90 days of a written request from an affected landowner.

Friends of Nelson also wants FERC to order Atlantic to provide landowners with a written release of the easement, pay reasonable attorneys’ fees the landowners incur in negotiating the release of the right-of-way, and file the release in the land records of the appropriate jurisdiction.

Friends of Nelson’s request was filed on March 3. A full copy of the letter can be viewed here. 

Riggleman Opposes ACP


Keep voicing your opinions! In a March 30, 2020 email reply, sent from the office of Representative Denver Riggleman to a constituent, he writes,

“Thank you for reaching out to my office regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It is an honor to represent the people of Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn your thoughts on this issue. As an avid outdoorsman, and landowner of an area within proposed pipeline construction, this issue is of top concern to me.

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a natural gas pipeline intended to provide energy and heating to thousands of residents in the lower part of the 5th District all the way into North Carolina. While the pipeline would provide many benefits to the district, it would also cross hundreds of miles of private property and National Park land. Personal property must be adequately compensated under eminent domain, and only enacted when necessary. I also do not believe the concerns of private citizens have been adequately addressed during the construction process, especially concerns relating to imminent [sic] domain and quick takes. For these reasons, I do not believe the increased energy provided by this pipeline would outweigh the numerous property rights issues it would cause.

“I hope that you and other Virginians will continue to share with me on these important issues as citizen participation is vital for a transparent and functional government. Thank you for your dedication to preserving this nation’s representative institutions….”

Sincerely,
Denver Riggleman
Member of Congress

Proximity to Compressor Station Devalues Homes by as Much as 50%

In a rural area in New York State, property values around a compressor station decreased radically. We can draw obvious conclusions about property values around Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline compressor stations. A 2015 press release from Stop the NY Pipeline announces that New York State assessors de-valued homes near a compressor station by 25-50%:

Homeowners living near the Millennium Pipeline Company’s 15,000 horsepower compressor station on Hungry Hill Road in Hancock, New York have seen the value of their homes decline by as much as 50 percent since the industrial facility was constructed in the midst of what used to be a quiet, rural community.

In May 2014 several Hungry Hill residents sought real estate tax relief citing the adverse impact of the compressor station on their property values. The Town of Hancock, denied the tax grievances, but Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy subsequently offered to fund homeowner appeals. On August 25, 2014, small claims hearings were held in the Hancock Town Hall. Two homeowners, a certified Real Estate Appraiser, and a representative of Catskill Citizens testified that the compressor station was responsible for heavy truck traffic, noxious odors, persistent low-level vibrations, and air contamination. The witnesses also asserted that the facility presented a safety threat and recounted how a Millennium employee suddenly knocked on the door of a house late one evening and urged the family to quickly evacuate their home. Finally, it was alleged that blasting during the construction of the compressor station had cracked the foundation of one house, which in turn led to an unsafe spike of radon levels. (Pre and post-construction radon tests conducted by Professional Home Inspection Service of Binghamton, New York showed that radon levels in the home jumped from 3 pCi/L to 6.1 pCi/L, which is above the EPA recommended action guideline of 4.0 pCiL.)

In light of the evidence proffered, the Town of Hancock tax assessors agreed to decrease the assessed valuation and real estate taxes on two homes by 25 percent. The assessed valuation and taxes on a third home, the one that had been physically damaged, were cut by 50 percent.

For further information contact: info@catskillcitizens.org

MVP Dumps on Blackberry Botanicals


Beth and Neil LaFerriere from Blackberry Botanicals in West Virginia spoke to the attendees at the second weekend of Spruce Creek Camp about their family and land’s repeated bombardment by helicopters with grass/fertilizer pellets.

Because of this unwarranted and illegal action, they will lose their farm’s organic certification for three years, severely affecting their chief source of income. Neil has posted this YouTube video version of their talk at Spruce Creek Camp.

About Pipelines: The Short Form


A summary sheet prepared by Water Is Life. Protect It.

The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines:

-are not needed by, nor will they bring energy to, the communities whose water and safety they threaten.

-will increase the cost of natural gas to Virginia ratepayers, first because of unneeded costly new infrastructure and later because the march to the sea for export will raise domestic natural gas prices 2 to 3 times.

-represent an immoral and illegal use of eminent domain to seize private land for corporate gain and not common good.

-are a clear and documented threat to the drinking water of over 12 million people either as a result of increased sedimentation from construction or from operational leaks of gas and fracking chemicals.

will not create local permanent jobs or even temporary local construction jobs.

-will more than double the greenhouse gas emissions for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

-against all scientific advice and warning, will be built over karst terrain, a geologic structure that produces most of our region’s clear pure water, but that is subject to sudden and unpredictable sinkholes and unexpected water connections and damages.

-pose a significant and documented risk of explosion and fire in their blast zones of 2,200 feet

-have and will continue to lower the value of any land they are on.

-represent stark environmental racism (especially the placement of the proposed Buckingham Compressor Station and routing through Native American lands) and environmental classism (targeting communities struggling with poverty and job loss).

-will reject the less costly and efficient upgrade of existing lines now running at less than real capacity in order to bring their developers a guaranteed profit of 15% on new energy infrastructure (MVP & ACP together well over 10 billion and rising).

-have revealed via their rushed and incomplete permitting and review processes, a level of corruption in Virginia government and regulatory agencies that is shocking and dangerous.