The Recorder – Pipeline lawsuit called ‘aggressive,’ precedent-setting

Source: The Recorder – Pipeline lawsuit called ‘aggressive,’ precedent-setting

By RICHIE DAVIS Recorder Staff
Sunday, March 20, 2016
With the state attorney general expected to weigh in on a pipeline lawsuit challenging the Massachusetts Constitution’s protection of conservation lands, area officials are calling for a vigorous defense of open space.

Pointing to Tennessee Gas. Pipeline Co.’s suit against the state over a proposed natural gas pipeline through state-protected forest in Sandisfield, state Rep. Stephen Kulik said Friday he plans to call for the Massachusetts House to file a “friend of the court” brief in the case. He said the constitutional provision, called Article 97, will also likely come into play in the controversial Northeast Energy Direct pipeline through eight Franklin County towns.

The pipeline company asserts that its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval for its Berkshire County route supercedes the state’s constitutional protection of conservation land there.

Kulik called TGP’s plans to override state constitutional protections of open space “probably the greatest overstepping of FERC’s bounds that I can imagine. I would be very pleased if our congressional delegation in its entirety would join with us aggressively weighing in.”

Kulik said Friday, “We have to assert our institutional and constitutional responsibility as a Legislature given to us by the citizens of Massachusetts. It’s a power people have given to the General Court. They certainly didn’t give it to FERC, to some unelected bureaucracy in Washington … I’m hoping for a really aggressive pushback by our attorney general.”
TGP had hoped the Legislature would grant a waiver from Article 97 to allow the 13.42-mile-long pipeline through Sandisfield, which was approved a week ago by FERC. The energy giant sued one day after a Massachusetts legislative committee put that Article 97 waiver request in a procedural graveyard.

Such a waiver requires a two-thirds vote by both legislative branches to re-designate protected public land for other use.

The TGP suit, filed in Berkshire County Superior Court, seeks eminent domain of 21.5 acres in Sandisfield, with easements in the affected part of Otis State Forest. The suit came even as Sandisfield residents formally appealed FERC’s approval for the project — pointing out that the state’s constitutional issue and federal water-quality permits had not yet been settled.

Kulik addressed a group Thursday night participating in a Sugar Shack Alliance protest walk against the pipeline, advising the group, trained in direct action to focus on the Sandisfield issue now, although he stopped short of calling for civil disobedience.

Although he said it’s probably good to have the question raised and resolved over the Sandisfield case rather than waiting for it to surface on the NED project, FERC is now reviewing the pipeline route through Plainfield, Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Montague, Deerfield, Erving, Montague, Northfield and Warwick.

Kulik said conservation land was established with money “raised by the people of Massachusetts. Everyone in the state who cares about natural resources protection needs to be concerned about this, especially because there is zero benefit from any energy or public policy perspective to the people of Massachusetts. That’s like really rubbing our noses in this.”

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, on Thursday called the lawsuit “the beginning of resolving the question” on federal preemption and the state constitutional provision. He, like other legislators, said he would expect the attorney general’s office to respond for the state and predicted the case “could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Asked about the AG’s plans in the case, a spokesman said the attorney general will be defending the state and the Department of Conservation and Recreation in this matter and plans to file an opposition prior to the hearing.

Kathryn Eiseman of Pipeline Awareness Network of Massachusetts said, “This is where the rubber hits the road with respect to Article 97 … Many people are just waking up to the importance of this land in Otis State Forest. Not only is a forest with some of the last remaining old-growth hemlock stands in Berkshire County directly threatened, the whole framework under which land is protected in our commonwealth, under our Constitution, is potentially threatened.”

Rather than trying to circumvent the protected Spectacle Pond property donated by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, she said, TGP appeared to have “purposely targeted it and are digging in their heels, with the hope to establish authority to run roughshod through our protected lands across the commonwealth.”

Although it’s unclear exactly whether FERC’s federal preemption conflicts with Massachusetts’ unique constitutional provision giving the Legislature sole authority over conservation land, Boston attorney Richard Kanoff, who represents Pipeline Awareness Network of the Northeast as well as Montague and other municipalities in cases involving the NED pipeline project, said “This is a really significant issue, and there are a lot of important questions involved. I would be surprise if the attorney general doesn’t file. It raises significant concern about whether Article 97 means anything, or whether a 401 water quality certificate means anything.”

A hearing on TGP’s case seeking to exercise eminent domain over the land in question is scheduled for March 30. There is a March 31 cutoff under the federal Endangered Species Act to protect migratory birds that use the trees for spring nesting, although the company has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for that deadline to be extended until May 1. In its court filing, it seeks authority for condemnation by April 15.

You can reach Richie Davis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 269

Landowners, lawyers meet over pipeline » Local News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Landowners, lawyers meet over pipeline » Local News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports.


Informational meeting on Tues. Nov. 19 in Onondaga County.  Details to be announced.

Monroe County farm family wins fight vs. big utility and state – The Daily News Online: Lifestyles

Monroe County farm family wins fight vs. big utility and state – The Daily News Online: Lifestyles.


eminent domain “has got to be the most un-American phrase in the English language.”

Pipeline firm is offering landowners a raw deal » Guest Column » The Daily Star,

Pipeline firm is offering landowners a raw deal » Guest Column » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports.

Things you need to know about dealing with pipeline companies

From: Mike Bernhard <>
Date: Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Subject: Emkey gas pipeline

Friends and neighbors:
Surveying has begun for the Emkey pipeline that will interconnect the east-to-west pipelines below and above Chenango County. This phase will involve a transmission line from Preston through Smithville, Oxford, Coventry and Oxford, as well as Colesville in Broome County (map attached). As in the case of the “Constitution” pipeline project – which runs through Afton as well as Broome and Delaware Counties- local pipeline shills are lying about the effect of these transmission lines, which will increase the likelihood of hydrofracking in these and adjacent towns, with all of fracking’s infrastructure of unregulated gathering lines and compression stations.
Together with the Compulsory Integration of unleased properties into Drilling Units, Eminent Domain provides a tool for gascorps to leverage the acquiescence of a few large (often non-resident) landowners into a public policy that favors irresponsible corporations (and to a lesser extent, those large landowners) at the expense of residents with modest properties.
If you are in the path of the pipeline, the attached letter from Bob Lidsky (copied below) deserves your careful reading. Even if you are not directly in the path of the pipeline, you should understand the pressures that gascorp brings to bear on our neighbors in the line-of-fire, and be ready to support whatever resistance they can offer. To learn from the resistance to the “Constitution” pipeline, see
Please forward widely.  And stay in touch.

I own land, directly in the path of the proposed Constitution Pipeline. The

property is quite hilly and has beautiful views. There is one small area near

the top, which has a gradual enough slope to build a home.

Last December, Constitution asked for permission to survey. Their map

shows the pipeline running directly through the only area suitable for

building, siting a septic field, driveway and home. I realized that the pipeline

if built would render my property, un-buildable, un-mortgage-able, uninsurable, and nearly worthless.

I Joined Stop The Pipeline and refused permission to survey. Over the next

few months I learned a lot about Williams, Constitution, FERC, and the

politics of pipelines and eminent domain.

Then I received Constitution�s offer for their completely one-sided right of

way agreement. They say their limited-time initial offer is for 3 times the

value of the right of way. Yet it represents only 15% of the value of the

land. Their terms are ominous- a virtual minefield of legal traps. And

attached is a thinly veiled, threatening letter explaining that if I do not agree

they will take the right of way, against my wishes, by using Eminent


SIGN-OR ELSE! What should I do?

There is no way I can or would agree. There is no way I would sign any

contract to do business with them.

I know that legally, the situation is out of my control and that they can take

their easement under federal law by utilizing eminent domain.

Their tactics attempted to make me feel helpless, and, for a while I did,

dealing with a depressing, seemingly hopeless, situation. But joining STP

helped me realize that by resisting collectively, we have a good chance of

stopping them. That was when I started to investigate and learn about what

actually happens in Eminent Domain.

Rather then simply stonewall; to refuse to sign, I decided to fight, to take

them on face-to face. So I met with the Right of Way agent for Constitution.

First we discussed the survey. Having previously denied permission I asked

how the survey was performed because in the legend it used the words

“field survey”. The agent knew that I had denied permission. I asked him if

they were illegally on my land and he said that the survey was done

virtually, using GPS coordinates from the tax map. I did not believe him, as

there were numerous sightings of surveyors by my neighbors.

I told him that he was ruining my investment. He did not argue that the

amount offered would be an insignificant fraction of the amount the property

would depreciate. He said emphatically, that the price was firm and they

would not negotiate. They do not pay more, or buy the entire parcel under

any circumstances.

I told him the route ran right through the only place on the property where I

could site a home. He replied that the route is non-negotiable.

We discussed their right in the proposed contract to cross my property to

gain access to the right of way. He denied that. I told him that he was being

misleading, showing him the access clause in the proposed agreement. He

said it wasn’t true. I told him the contract rules, not what he says. He

implied it could be negotiated.

We discussed the planned access road just to the north of my property line.

He said that permission for this was not yet granted. This is conjecture, but

I got the impression he was having a hard time getting people to sign, not

just next door, but also with others.

I brought up the prepayment for future damages clause. He said they would

pay all costs and I said that�s not true� just read the contract. He replied

that Constitution would hold me harmless. I countered with Constitution�s

right to sell or assign to anyone. Who will be the responsible party?

This led to the question of insolvency or failure or bankruptcy of

Constitution. I told him I was not going to accept this “Pandora�s Box” of

legal pitfalls at any price. His answer was to say he would check this out

with some higher-ups and get back to me. He has not contacted me.

Unfortunately I forgot to mention the inability of a landowner to get a

mortgage when an interstate high-pressure pipeline is nearby a potential


I brought up liability and insurance issues. I told him I would never sign

because by signing I was buying into an unending liability for damages by

becoming his partner in a commercial- industrial operation. I would always

have an increased insurance cost and would have to carry huge & expensive

limits for liability, if the property was insurable at all. He gave no response.

I left the most important for last. We discussed eminent domain. He said

they were reluctant to use it but then openly threatened that they would

absolutely use it if I didn’t come around and sign.

I think I shocked him when I told him my best course of action was to have

him TAKE the right of way from me by eminent domain! The court would still

award me something, but more important, I would have no liability. He said

nothing. He had no answer. He said he would get back to me. He never has.

I think this discussion of asking him to take me by Eminent Domain set him

aback. He seemed unprepared. I think he was used to forcing landowners to

sign using the Eminent Domain club. Constitution uses Eminent Domain as a

bargaining tool, but it can be put to good use against them.

Here is my laypersons view:


1) I give away my right to sue.

2) I enter into a business deal with unknown future liabilities.

3) I have continuing extra insurance expense.


1) Only gas can be transported, no tar sands or other liquids.

2) No future pipelines or other utilities will be allowed.

3) We gain political power when significant numbers of landowners refuse to


5) FERC�s mandate is to listen to landowners.

6) They lose their bargaining tool when eminent domain is seen as better for


7) I still get paid something,

8) I have no liability,

9) I preserve my right to sue them later, in a class action for a taking of my


Only the landowners can stop Constitution. WE have the power. Hundreds of

landowners have to welcome eminent domain as the best option, and as the

only way to prevail. I know there are many other landowners who believe

this. Please start expressing it in public now, in order to grow the


To stop them, we need to refuse signing, and to threaten a class action

lawsuit for the full value of our property, presenting them with a huge

political and financial problem.

Make this public! Make them walk away! ONLY by refusing to sign can we

win. It is your active resistance that will prevail. This can be done. We must

hit them where it hurts.


Robert Lidsky,

Andes, NY

July 8, 2013

Pipeline — arguments against

1) It begets drilling. The EPA’s new rule, known ironically as “green completion,” requires that connection to a pipeline be in place before drilling can occur. Drill sites along this pipe will be the first ones targeted for development, and will spawn a network of gathering lines.

2) It industrializes rural areas. The pipe would start with two compressor stations, but eventually, stations will be needed every 40 miles. Air quality will go from “clean country air” to smog-filled ozone alert days such as Wyoming is experiencing. “Cracker” plants will feed off the pipe and beget plastics factories and subsequent additional toxic waste. As with Minisink, new gas power plants feeding off the line can be expected as well. None of these inevitable impacts are considered by FERC.

3) It devastates habitats. The route would travel through pristine forests and wildlife areas; cross numerous bodies of water; and create erosion risks by clear cutting steep slopes.

4) It enables eminent domain. If builders get FERC approval for the project, land will be taken against the will of landowners.

5) It hastens climate change. Lke all pipelines, this one can be expected to lose 9-12% of its volume in transit. With the planet already past 400ppm, we cannot afford to release any more methane, a greenhouse gas up to 105 times more powerful than CO2.

Pipeline Brochure


The El Paso Pipeline Group, the largest
interstate gas pipeline corporation in the
country, proposes to build a pipeline to
transport Pennsylvania Marcellus gas,
through our region, to urban New England
and export markets. It will seek a permits
from state and federal permitting agencies.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC) describes its priorities thus: “the
Commission must continue to respond
quickly when companies propose to expand
and construct needed pipelines and related
facilities. The Commission has expedited
the certification of natural gas pipelines by
having Commission staff actively participate
in projects that were using the pre-filing
FERC and the state agencies will
rubberstamp El Paso’s application.
El Paso expects to have permits in
hand by the end of 2013.


Link to North South extension of Millenium Pipeline through Cortland Co.

Route I 81 Corridor Pipeline: proposed for Cortland, Broome, and Onondaga Counties

Do you know about the proposed new pipeline?  

The real name is“Millennium Phase-1 North-South Upstate Pipeline Connector” … but we call it the “I-81 Pipeline”.

It would affect the following towns:

ONONDAGA COUNTY: Onondaga,Otisco Lafayette.Tully

CORTLAND COUNTY: Preble, Homer, Cortlandville, Virgil, Lapeer

BROOME COUNTY: Lisle, Nanticoke, Maine, Union

Check the map to see if you live nearby…

Local Events:

Public Information Session on I81 Pipeline Joe Heath, Craig Stevens, Tues., Nov. 19th 6:30 pm at Lafayette High School, Lafayette, NY

Informational Meeting on I-81 Pipeline held Sept. 23 at Center for the Arts, Homer NY

Video Coverage

 SUNY Downtown, 9 Main St. Cortland.


We need volunteers to help fight this invasion of our communities:

Technical experts in geology, ecology, hydrology, energy policy, GIS, mapping, education, communication, social media,  PowerPoint and other presentation skills, research, writing testimony for regulatory agencies as well as people who can help inform local communities, landowners and government officials of the implications of a pipeline.  If you have concerns, there is a place for you in this endeavor!

Contact us at:


Additional Information Sources

Facebook Page: 

Like this new Facebook page: I81Pipeline

(Excellent and comprehensive information from group fighting the Constitution Pipeline)  


Several key projects are hitting all at once: The Constitution Pipeline, the Liberty LNG Port, and the Minisink compressor station all face mid-month deadlines. These are but three of the 24 gas infrastructure projects currently planned for New York State. The LNG port alone could change the landscape for New York and the tristate area by opening up the potential for a local export facility.


Details of Northeast Gas Infrastructure Expansion Projects


Industry Announcements of the I-81 Project


Natural Resources Along the Pipeline Route



Social & Cultural Resources

Aerial photos of Pipeline Construction

Background Information on Pipelines:

What Do Pipelines Portend?

Pipelines = Fracking.  The new federal fracking guidelines include an provision for no venting or flaring of gas at drilling, so pipes have to be in place before wells are drilled.  This lays the infrastructure for expanding the extraction of methane to more communities.
Pipelines = Eminent Domain.  A taking of your land “for the public good”.   Learn about what this means.
Pipelines = Danger.  From the PHMSA Pipeline Haz. Materials and Safety Administration – last decade 5600 fires and explosions and almost 400 deaths in the US alone from ‘significant’ pipelines incidents.  This does not count leaky pipes and ‘minor’ breaks resulting in dangerous incidents.
Pipelines = Compressors  Compressor stations are required every few dozen miles, and compressor stations outgas toxic gasses continually and have proven to be more dangerous to live near than wellpads.  This 24″ (at least) line would require large compressors to push the gas through, running 24/7 and outgassing known carcinogenic volatile organics that airborne, ultimately end up in the water, soil and our food.  
We have to get on top of the convoluted and segmented permitting process, to gather a voice against the further investment in unconventional gas and oil development.  
We need all hands on deck for this.   There is work to be done so this ‘proposal’ does not become a reality. 
Learn about the permitting process, easements, ramifications of eminent domain and restrictions on landowner rights re easements.   Learn how to become involved in the process.  Learn about the history of the old pipeline along the same route, and some of the geology of the route, and meet your neighbors and friends to stop this pipeline from bringing fracked gas t

Millennium Announcement of “Open Season”

Natural gas shipper proposes new pipeline from Binghamton to Syracuse area |  5/15/13

Pipeline Brochures:  



Municipal Involvement


Gas Pipelines: What Municipalities Need to Know (Video from 2012 Ithaca meeting)

Streaming Video (Playlist):

Downloads (Media RSS Video & Audio):

iTunes (Video):

Gas Pipelines: What Municipalities Need to Know
May 17, 2012. Ithaca, NY. Free Twenty interstate natural gas pipeline systems crisscross the region from West Virginia to Maine. As gas drilling operations expand, thousands of miles of new pipelines will be needed to connect existing pipelines to gas wells. Learn the difference between gathering, transmission, and distribution lines; what agencies have jurisdiction over the various types of lines; how pipelines are permitted, regulated, and monitored; and how municipalities can prepare for an increase in pipeline networks.

Presenters: Sharon Anderson, Environmental Program Leader, Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County; Jim Austin, Environmental Certification and Compliance, State of New York Department of Public Service; Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice Northeast Regional Office; Meghan Thoreau, Planner, Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board.

Co-sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County and Tompkins County Council of Governments.

Local Governments Should Officially Intervene in FERC Process

General information on gas infrastructure

Pipelines, Compressors, Storage, Metering Stations — Siteing, Regulation, Public Input, Safety

Note: I have used this. It is clunky and clumsy but the only thing I have encountered that let me find with some precision some lines that run within 4 mi west of me between the Tenessee line and the Millenium line. This is of considerable importance because those Rights of Way will very likely become major conduits and regions where compressors will pop up. One of the lines I was able to trace as far north as Cortland before I lost interest and tracing was getting hard.   There is a glitch when trying to trace over a state line, but there is a workaround by just tracing up to the border and then doing another run starting on the other side of the border.  Stan Scobie, Binghamton, NY, 607-669-4683

Storage and Transport Infrastructure

Finger Lakes Gas Storage and Infrastructure Project.  Salt Caverns,  Watkins Glen, NY Even if no fracking occurs in NY, Inergy intends to turn our region into the gas storage and transportation hub of the Northeastern United states- the salt caverns are empty and waiting, the railways are in place, and we’re not paying enough attention to this!

Inergy: Making Marcellus Happen (Watch the video)

Inergy, LP (Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC) based in Kansas City is a pipeline and natural gas storage company with approximately 3,000 employees and annual sales of about $1.8 billion.
In 2008, Inergy purchased the U.S. Salt plant on the west side of Seneca Lake approximately 2 miles north of Watkins Glen to “build an integrated gas storage and transportation hub in the Northeast.”

Details of the Inergy proposal include:

  • Construct and operate a new underground LPG storage facility for the storage and distribution of propane and butane on a portion of a 576 acre site near the intersection of Rts. 14 and 14A in the Town of Reading.
  • Proposed storage capacity of 2.10 million barrels (88.20 million gallons)
  • Construction of a 14 acre brine pond located on a steep slope just above Seneca Lake with a capacity of 91.8 million gallons.
  • Construction of a new rail and truck LPG transfer facility consisting of:  A 6 track rail siding capable of allowing loading/unloading of 24 rail cars every 12 hours 24/7/365.  A truck loading station capable of loading 4 trucks per hour (with the possibility to expand) 24/7/365.
  • Construction also to include surface works consisting of truck and rail loading terminals, LPG storage tanks, offices and other distribution facilities and stormwater control structures.

Please refer to the “Resources” page for more detailed information on the project and its potentially devastating environmental consequences.

To stay informed please join the Gas Free Seneca Listserv.

  • Inergy CEO Statement on Making Marcellus Happen:
    Even if no fracking occurs in NY, Inergy intends to turn our region into the gas storage and transportation hub of the Northeastern United states- the salt caverns are empty and waiting, the railways are in place, and we’re not paying enough attention to this!

Eminent Domain:

Spectra Energy Watch–Property Rights Eminent Domain

  • Is a Gas Company a Utility? One of the things the Tioga County Landowners group has discussed in public meetings is the importance of making sure landowners have good pipeline leases – even if they don’t have drilling. The idea, I believe, is that by offering a way to get gas from well to major transmission line, the gas companies won’t be tempted to gain status as a utility which would allow them powers of eminent domain for the gathering lines.  Well, here’s how Chief Oil & Gas got around that little hurdle in Susquehanna County, PA – they got permission to use state highway ROW. Not a good precedent for those who would like to lease pipeline routes, and for those who want to have no pipelines across their property.
  • Report of Laser Hearings in Windsor 10-20-10

I was one of about 65 people in the auditorium of Windsor High School as officials of the Public Service Commission and Laser Northeast Gathering Company first gave their information presentations and then answered questions and listened to statements from the public.

A 5 member Commission body, under Administrative Law Judge Howard Jack, will, at some point in the future, make a determination to either deny, grant with conditions, or approve the application to construct a 16 inch pipeline capable of carrying up to 170 million cu ft of gas per day. (Asked if the pipeline was being planned to serve more than the 18 wells stated in the application, Laser reps answered with the flow volume, and admitted that it could serve hundreds of wells. At the same time they said that the wells in PA that are now producing are not producing gas at a high rate.) Because the application is for a line that is less than 10 miles in length the PSC is not required under Article VII <>  to give the application its “full review”. Article VII was created in 1970 and actions under this law are not subject to SEQR (created at a later date). Neither does an Art VII certificate grant eminent domain or property rights.

We were told that Laser has been working for a year with not only the Town of Windsor but with the 1700 member Windsor Landowner Pipeline Coalition to put the pieces in place for this project. Windsor has enacted road protection and noise ordinances <>. The landowners have negotiated contracts. Laser owns the 40 acre parcel for the compressor station.

The audience asked questions about compressor station maintenance and noise, about emergency planning, odorizing the gas in the lines, depth under roads and rivers, and environmental protections during the construction phase.

I asked several questions about maintenance and gas leak monitoring. The Laser reps told me that the station will be monitored closely and that they have the capacity to “count gas molecules entering and leaving the station”. They did Not say that the incoming and outgoing volume is balanced but said instead that it is “reconciled”. And no, they have never considered using infra-red technology to look for leaks. And No, the gas “is not required to be” odorized.

There are 80 residences on the perimeter of the 40 acre parcel that will hold the compressor station. Several people asked questions about noise. The PSC standard is 40 decibels at any residence. The Windsor ordinance states: maximum noise levels  “During daytime hours: ambient noise levels plus five (5) dBA. During nighttime hours: ambient noise levels plus three (3) dBA. Additionally, until demonstrated by the applicant or by the Town, ambient noise or sound levels within the Town of Windsor shall be assumed to be 35 dBA.

Using the “Teacher’s Resource Guide” < > I find that they rate 40 decibels the noise level in a library.

I asked if compliance with the Windsor ordinance is required under the Art. VII certificate and was told that “it could be”.

During the public comment part of the evening, there were 7 presentations. Of those 7, 5 people lauded the Laser company for the wonderful job they have done in bringing this opportunity to the people of Windsor. Two people (one of them Deborah Goldberg) spoke for full review, no pipelines before SGEIS approval, cumulative impact study, and for tighter environmental protections.

If you have gotten this far in reading you understand that the landowner coalitions did a good job of getting their members out to this hearing. The company reps did their usual job of talking slick. The PSC administrators need to hear from lots more people who want a full review (this pipeline will be much more than 10 miles in length when they get any of the laterals in place).  Visit , and scroll down to the comment section.

Pipelines are coming to your neighborhood folks! Do you want to live next to a compressor station with its attendant noise and air pollution? We need to make a larger stink than they plan to make or these things will be rubber stamped into place. Remember, they need pipelines to put the gas into before they drill. If the pipelines are here the drillers will come.

Request full review. Request infra-red monitoring and odorizing of the gas. Request environmental protections and full cumulative study.
Marie McRae
Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition.  Wednesday, July 7, 2010

  • Pa. to Corning gas line gets OK: “…Corning, N.Y. — A proposed $43 million gas pipeline from the Pennsylvania border up to Corning has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, clearing the way for construction next summer. Empire Pipeline’s new 15-mile-long, 24-inch pipeline will carry Marcellus Shale gas produced in Pennsylvania north to Corning, where it will connect with the Millennium Pipeline…The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, based in Washington, D.C., determined the project would not have a significant environmental impact. The agency’s assessment was detailed in a 119-page report sent to The Leader last week. The report is posted online at . Several other local, state and federal agencies were involved in the review…FERC’s approval gives Empire Pipeline the right to use eminent domain, although company officials say that’s a last resort. They have already been negotiating compensation deals with landowners. About 50 area residents attended a presentation and public hearing in Corning back in late April, but no one voiced opposition…” ” (Corning Leader) (NY & PA)-

Accidents, Spills, Explosions of Pipelines and other Gas installations: 

Ageing Pipelines



Using Eminent Domain for Pipelines? That’s Right of Way Done Wrong –

Using Eminent Domain for Pipelines? That’s Right of Way Done Wrong –

Using Eminent Domain for Pipelines? That’s Right of Way Done Wrong

New York is a no-fracking zone—and many landowners are even losing money on gas flowing from other states.


Elmira, N.Y.

Last month the New York State Assembly voted to create a legislative moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, until 2015 to further assess health and environmental concerns. The Senate may follow suit. The current executive moratorium has been in place since 2008.

But outside of Albany, many farmers and landowners have welcomed the revenues that have come with the drilling of the Trenton Black River formation and would likewise welcome drilling in the Marcellus and Utica formations, two of the largest natural-gas deposits in the nation, which have gone underdeveloped in the state since 2008. During this four-and-a-half-year wait, many farmers in rural New York have gone out of business, the oldest generation has begun to die off and the unemployment rate has hit near record highs.
In addition to being denied revenues from the oil and gas deposits beneath their feet, many New York farmers and landowners are also not being justly compensated for the pipelines running through their fields. Regardless of one’s stance on high-volume fracking, private companies should not be able to use eminent domain to seize land-use rights for pipelines at one price—deemed fair by the courts—only to turn around and sell those rights at a substantial profit.
I first became aware of this abuse of eminent domain in 2008, when I was approached by a landowner seeking legal representation concerning a proposed natural-gas pipeline on his farm in upstate New York. He explained to me that a pipeline company had offered him around $5 per linear foot to purchase a perpetual right of way for a gas pipeline. At 1,200 feet of right of way, my client would receive about $6,000.
After researching the issue, I discovered that the federal government and some Indian tribes—who by law are not subject to eminent domain—were not granting perpetual rights of way. Instead they were granting 10-year leases with rights of renewal and were charging rent accordingly.
This approach seemed reasonable, so on behalf of the landowner I requested a similar arrangement. To my surprise we were roundly rebuffed by the pipeline company, which then broke off negotiations and delivered to my clients a letter offering $1,000 per acre for a perpetual right of way. At 30-feet wide by about 1,200-feet long, the total area amounted to about 36,000 square feet or 0.826 of an acre. In other words, the $6,000 offer had been cut to $826.
The pipeline company’s attorney explained that his client had elected to exercise its right of “eminent domain” to condemn a perpetual right of way and that the $826 was the real-estate appraisal for the right of way. Pipeline rights of way are bought and sold on the open market by the linear foot among private pipeline companies, yet here my client was being offered a far lower price based on the per-acre value of the area to be used by the right of way.

State law determines just compensation in eminent-domain proceedings. In New York, as in many states, the courts use a system of “before and after” to determine the value to be paid for the right of way. The courts determine the highest and best use of the land underneath the right of way, then they value the land before the right of way is applied and after it is in place. The difference is paid to the landowner as his “just compensation.”

Valuing the right of way in this manner results in an extraordinary double-standard. Because a farmer can grow crops on the land again once the pipeline is in place, the loss to a farmer is deemed temporary and the land is worth, for all intents and purposes, the same before and after. Effectively the farmer receives a pittance for the right of way while the pipeline company enjoys a windfall of economic opportunity.

Clearly, the real value is not in the land but in the economic opportunity the right of way grants to the business entity. How is it “just compensation” that the farmer should be paid a fraction of the acreage value of his portion of the right of way, when anytime after eminent domain the pipeline company could sell the farmer’s right of way on a linear-foot basis at a substantial profit?

When the hammer of eminent domain is not available, the true market value arises. For example, in 2010 the 33-mile Laser Northeast pipeline, running from Susquehanna County, Pa., to the Millennium pipeline in Broome County, N.Y., did not have the right of eminent domain. The line is what is called a gas gathering line, which under New York law is not allowed the right of eminent domain. A coalition of landowners that I represented was therefore able to negotiate a 20-year right of way with a 20-year renewal.
The landowners were given the option of taking a lump sum or annual rentals. The lump-sum totals were about $55 per linear foot for the first 20 years and $65 per linear foot for the second 20 years. For nine miles of right of way in New York State, the company paid around $2.6 million for the first term. Annual rental rates were $3.50 per linear foot, indexed for inflation.
How did the pipeline company fare in this deal? It built its pipeline within a year for a total reported cost, including the rights of way, of $150 million. Last year it reportedly sold the rights of way and the pipeline within it for $750 million. The pipeline company did very well and the landowners were paid fairly.
How would this compare if Laser Northeast had eminent-domain powers? It would likely have paid around $1,000 per acre for 32 acres, for a total of about $32,727. Which of the above methods affords just compensation?
If New York state’s landowners must suffer the indignity of being denied the opportunity to develop their natural-gas deposits, they should at least be fairly compensated for the economic opportunity taken from them as other states’ gas passes through their lands.
Mr. Denton, an attorney, is co-founder of the Landowner Coalition Movement in New York State.

$750M gas line draws critics – Times Union

$750M gas line draws critics – Times Union.