Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rise of oil and gas pipelines lead Pennsylvania landowners to face eminent domain battles

West Chester, Pa. (Best Places map)
Trump supporters in rural areas where pipelines are proposed say they are being bullied by oil and natural gas companies to force them off their property, Stuart Leavenworth reports for McClatchy Newspapers. Homeowners like Norm MacQueen, a West Chester, Pa. resident who voted for Trump, are in the midst of eminent domain battles in which they say "agents pressure them to sign easement agreements and then threaten court action if they don’t agree to the offered terms."

Trump, who has publicly supported eminent domain, won the presidential election largely by taking swing states like Pennsylvania, where he "wooed rural voters by pledging to be attentive to their concerns," Leavenworth writes. "But one of his first acts as president was to expedite the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, both of which have employed eminent domain to secure needed land." (Proposed Sunoco Pipeline; BizPhilly map, click on it for a larger view.)
"The White House is squarely on the side of pipelines," Leavenworth notes. "For the last three months, Trump’s aides have been reviewing proposals to help expedite various infrastructure projects nationwide. Unions and industry groups have provided the White House with their favored proposals, which include pipeline projects in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and other states, according to documents obtained by McClatchy."

"Tens of thousands of landowners could soon find themselves in the paths of new pipelines," Leavenworth writes. "As of 2016, more than 34,000 miles of new oil and gas pipelines were in the planning stages, according to Pipeline and Gas Journal, an industry trade publication. Many are being spurred by the rich deposits of gas in the Marcellus shale region of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio."

"Lawmakers in some states are pushing back," Leavenworth reports. "Georgia and South Carolina recently passed laws banning private companies from using eminent domain for oil pipelines. Eminent domain has become an issue in the Virginia governor’s race, where the five leading candidates are split over the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a joint venture of Dominion Resources and Duke Energy that would ship natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. Two of the candidates—one Democrat and one Republican—have come out against the use of eminent domain for the project."

No comments: