Category Archives: Legal

Precedential Win Against FERC Decision

Please see attached both the press release explaining the findings of the Federal Court which has ruled FERC violated federal law when it issued approvals for the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (NEUP) project, and the decision itself.

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DEP Webinar: Public participation in permitting process, July 15

(message forwarded from PA DEP):

The Department of Environmental Protection invites you to participate in an upcomingwebinar on the department’s recently published draft Policy on Public Participation in the Permit Review Process.  This important draft policy establishes a framework for the public’s ability to review and provide comments on permits or authorizations under review by DEP. 

 
The webinar will be held from 2-3 p.m., Monday, July 15.  The webinar is free, but registration is required.  To register for the webinar, visit:  https://copa.webex.com/copa/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=640651244
 
Staff from DEP’s Policy Office will review the draft policy and outline the changes proposed.  The draft policy was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on June 29 and can be found here: http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol43/43-25/1120.html
 
The deadline to comment on the draft policy is July 22. 
 
We look forward to your participation.
 
Regards,
Alisa
 
Alisa E. Harris | Special Deputy Secretary for External Affairs
Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17101
Phone: 717.787.6490 | Fax: 717.705.4980
www.depweb.state.pa.us

How to Kill a Cow or the Pipeline Blues

In a letter to Lancaster Farming, Christy Ann Strange documents the struggle she has had after the construction of gas pipeline across her farm. Her issues range from 6-inch landscaping nails causing injury to livestock, stripping of soil, damage to standing trees and littering a field with rock. East Nantmeal residents could learn from this to be very careful about any land lease agreements with pipeline agents. In particular you will need to incorporate protections for your property during construction and specific remediation of the area post construction.

Know your rights and negotiate with the pipeline companies

Property owners approached by land agents for pipeline companies, and faced with the threat of eminent domain, often feel it best to accept the first offer. But in a workshop an attorney with experience in pipeline negotiations advised landowners not to roll over. He suggested that property owners have many rights and plenty of room to get a better price. Considering that the company cannot go lower than the first offer if it comes to an eminent domain hearing, you can take the opening offer as their lowest, not their best.

In northeastern Pennsylvania for the recent MARC1 pipeline, landowners were offered $8 per linear foot. For a 50ft right-of-way that comes to less than $7,000 per acre, suggesting a considerable gap to the average cost to fully purchase the ground. The property owner will still own the land, as the pipeline company is only purchasing an easement to cross the land. However, constraints detailed in the easement may prevent the owner from full enjoyment of use of the property. One may still enjoy mowing and maintaining the eased area and one definitely will still pay taxes on the ground. However there may be restrictions on placing structures or plantings in the eased areas. More important to potential future use, if the pipeline easement separates a significant area of the property, and no drive may be constructed across the pipeline, the owner, depending on local ordinances, may have lost the ability to subdivide and sell a portion of their property. Landowners need to understand what uses of their property may no longer be available to them, and need to be properly compensated for that loss.

The various conservancy groups in the area point out that Pennsylvania’s regulations for remediating an area after constructing a pipeline do not meet best management practices in areas such as soil erosion and forest habitat protection. Property owners can also negotiate conditions to be met during construction and how the land will be restored post-construction that go beyond the state’s requirements. One can specify the types of vegetation to be replanted and the type of long term maintenance by the company to prevent further degradation of the land. Owners viewing themselves as stewards of the land often include these types of conditions. Some have found that the pipeline companies gladly accept these conditions particularly from conservancies, viewing the implementation of the best practices as a public relations opportunity.

New legislation for natural gas pipeline projects

In response to the area’s growing number of natural gas pipeline projects, senator Andy Dinniman introduced three bills to protect residents’ properties and the state’s natural resources from harm. Senate Bill 504 requires the Department of Environmental Protection to notify residents of upcoming projects and post information on the DEP web site.

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Senate Bill 506 protects  taxpayer-funded agriculture and conservation easements by requiring operators to replace acre-for-acre any easement upon which they build pipelines. Senate Bill 507 requires pipeline operators to get the approval of Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board before condemning any Act 43 agriculture easements.

“Chester County was already pipeline central and the number of new pipeline proposals is only increasing.Unfortunately, our state laws and procedures currently do not give landowners and residents the rights and accessibility to information they need to protect their properties, local waterways and other natural resources against unnecessary harm. I want to change that, and I know area residents and municipalities do too.”

— Senator Andy Dinniman.

You can help by contacting our elected officials and ask them to support Senate Bills 504, 506 and 507.

East Nantmeal Board of Supervisors oppose Commonwealth Pipeline

On February 13, 2013, the Board of Supervisors passed by unanimous vote a resolution opposing the siting of the Commonwealth Pipeline through East Nantmeal Township. On passing the resolution the supervisors sent copies to elected state and federal Representatives and to various state agencies.

Please read the text of East Nantmeal Resolution 2013-1

Neb. Gov. Can’t Shake Landowners’ Keystone Law Challenge

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Neb. Gov. Can’t Shake Landowners’ Keystone Law Challenge

By Sean McLernon

Law360, New York (January 02, 2013, 1:27 PM ET) — A Nebraska state judge on Monday refused to toss a challenge to a law giving the state’s governor the power to approve a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline, finding that three landowners have standing because public funds are being used to carry out the law’s provisions. Continue reading