Property Rights

Pipeline Brings a Property Rights Fight to Virginia

Property owner wants to prevent natural-gas surveyors from coming onto her land.

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Eighty-three-year-old Hazel Palmer could become the Suzette Kelo of Virginia—the face of a property-rights revolution. She has a piece of land in Augusta County along the proposed route of the 600-mile, $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It has been in her family for four generations, and she does not want surveyors for the pipeline traipsing across it—especially if said surveying leads to what she fears: a staging area for drilling inside her property line.

A state law says the pipeline's surveyors don't need her permission to step onto her property. The state's constitution might say otherwise. Virginia's Supreme Court will decide the matter.

The pipeline has generated ferocious opposition from environmentalists and those who don't want it running through their backyards. The latter cohort includes a lot of scrappy citizen-activists along with some well-heeled interests, and they have raised a host of objections to the project—some more persuasive than others.

Palmer probably wouldn't have a snowball's chance herself, if it were not for an amendment supported by 75 percent of the voters in 2012. Courts have repeatedly ruled against property owners who refuse entry to natural-gas surveyors.

In 2004 the commonwealth passed legislation explicitly granting natural-gas companies authority to enter private property for "examinations, tests, land auger borings, appraisals and surveys without the written consent of the owner."

Nor is that anything new. A 1782 law allowed surveyors to enter private property to survey land for the location of public roads, and forbade anyone to "stop, oppose, or hinder" them. Similar laws passed in 1819, 1860, and 1944 granted the same power to turnpike companies, "internal improvement" companies, and railroads.

As a general rule, the right to property—the right to the use and benefit of your land, house, car and so forth—entails the right to keep people out of it. "This is mine" necessarily implies "it's not yours."

But there have always been exceptions to this "right to exclude," and you can easily see why: If Smith's house is on fire, Smith's neighbors should be able to enter his property to keep the fire from spreading to their own homes.

If the neighborhood children accidentally toss a frisbee onto Smith's lawn, most people would say they should be able to retrieve it without being arrested for trespassing. If the sheriff has a warrant, Smith can't avoid arrest by forbidding the sheriff to step on his land.

Lawyers for the pipeline—a joint project of Dominion, Duke, and two smaller companies—therefore say that Palmer has no right to exclude the surveyors in the first place. And even if she did, they continue, the minor inconvenience of having surveyors walk across her land does not qualify as a "taking" of private property, let alone one that requires compensation. No title of ownership is being transferred, and the surveying will not keep Palmer from using and benefiting from her property: no harm, no foul. Finally, in the event that the surveyors do inflict any damage to her property, they will have to pay for it.

Palmer's lawyers assess the inconvenience as more than minor: "A flagging crew would clear a path through the property and flag the proposed route. A survey crew would survey the property. An environmental crew would collect environmental data by various methods, including digging into the property with hand augurs to look for wetland soils. A cultural resource crew would use hand shovels to dig 1.5 foot wide by 1.5 foot deep holes every 50 feet along the proposed pipeline route looking for items of cultural interest, which, if found, would be dug up and taken from the property for analysis. … All told, five crews totaling around 20 people would enter the property over Ms. Palmer's objections."

But again, the pipeline attorneys says: so what? All 50 states have statutes similar to Virginia's, they point out, and courts have upheld the authority of utilities, turnpike authorities, and other entities to conduct surveys on private property without permission more than two dozen times, because such authority has been part of the common law for, literally, centuries.

To which Palmer could say: so what?

What other states authorize is irrelevant in the face of Virginia's property-rights amendment, in the same way that Chinese censorship is irrelevant to guarantees of free speech here in the U.S. Likewise, the appeal to tradition—those laws passed in decades and centuries past—also holds little weight. Tradition and legal precedent were the rocks upon which defenders of state-level bans on racial intermarriage and gay marriage rested their cases. If tradition and precedent trumped everything else, then those laws would remain in force. They don't.

Virginia's property rights amendment, like similar measures all across the country, bubbled up to the surface in the wake of the Supreme Court's awful decision in Kelo v. New London.

In that case, the high court ruled the Constitution's requirement that government take private property only for "public use" really meant "public purpose," and public purpose meant public "benefit." Seizing Suzette Kelo's property and giving it to the New London Development Corporation could result in higher tax collections, from which the public would benefit, ergo it was legit. (In fact, the development was a bust, and the site where Kelo's house once stood became a vacant lot. 'Twas a famous victory.)

Virginians added a plank to their Bill of Rights specifically to rebut the Kelo decision. "A public service company, public service corporation, or railroad exercises the power of eminent domain for public use when such exercise is for the authorized provision of utility, common carrier, or railroad services," it says. "In all other cases, a taking or damaging of private property is not for public use if the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development, except for the elimination of a public nuisance existing on the property. The condemnor bears the burden of proving that the use is public, without a presumption that it is."

Virginia law treats pipeline companies as public service corporations, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would provide utility services. At the same time—and here's the rub—it would do so for private gain and private enterprise.

And the pipeline's backers have been very clear about why they support it. As a press release from Gov. Terry McAuliffe put it: "Construction of the pipeline will create 8,800 jobs, produce $1.42 billion in economic activity in the Commonwealth and generate $14.6 million. After completion, the project will support 118 jobs per year, produce $37.8 million per year in ongoing economic activity and generate $233,000 in additional annual state tax revenue."

Increasing jobs. Increasing tax revenue. Economic development—the very reasons Virginians rejected as justifications for the use of eminent-domain authority. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline meets one test imposed by Virginia's property-rights amendment but fails another. It will be interesting to see how the state's high court resolves that conflict—if it can.

This column originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  1. She’s not going to be the face of the issue. She is just one of many faces of this issue, because eminent domain abuse for private oil and gas companies is occurring in the West, Midwest, southeast, northeast…coast to coast. Bakken, Keystone, you name it.

    You’ll have lots of readers here completely disagree with you A Bart. I’ve said the same numerous times and maybe had one agree. They’re defenders of anything oil.

    Maybe now Root will even weigh in. He usually ignores it.

    1. That strawman would burn a hell of a lot brighter if only you had some oil to soak it in, Jackass Ass.

      1. I’m making over $16k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. Then this work is for you… Go to website and click to Tech tab for more work details… http://tinyurl.com/glve3gm

    2. Thinking you are an asshole has nothing to do with being pro-oil.

      It has to do with the objective fact that you are a short asshole, joe.

    3. You’ll have lots of readers here completely disagree with you A Bart. I’ve said the same numerous times and maybe had one agree. They’re defenders of anything oil.

      There are so many of them, you shouldn’t have any problem pointing them out. Name names, you cunt, go ahead. Find us all these libertarians who are fine and dandy with property rights being stripped away to help Big Oil.

    4. But, muh Social Contract!

    5. Take your vitamins and fuck off.

    6. Do you have an alert for when Reason posts about the pipeline or global warming?

      1. *lights the Tony signal*

    7. The thing is, is that you don’t give a rat’s ass about private property rights. You’re just another warmist scare mongerer, and BIG OIL whiner. If not for that, you would have no interest in the issue.

  2. Cue all those outraged by ED, except pipeline ED.

    1. Cue all those outraged by pipeline ED, but not road ED.

      1. So much this.

        The power company wants to lay wires? Private developer wants to build some houses? The government wants to expand a road? Fuck you and your property, the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact, you have to sacrifice for the social contract.

        The oil company wants to lay pipe? OMG eminent domain abuse!

      2. Cue all those outrage by ED, but who can’t bring themselves to get a Viagra prescription.

        1. I would think that would be more depressing than enraging, but maybe we should ask Jackass Ass to verify.

      3. ‘Development” ED

        “Blight” ED

        Crony ED

        Etc.

      4. Is the fix for pipeline ED better welding? Or is there some kind of Viagra for these projects?

      5. I’d say road AD should be less of an outrage, at least to constitutionalists. ED is specifically allowed and I’m pretty sure roads are one of the originally intended purposes. Seizing land to give to private companies, even if it’s for what looks like a public good, crosses a line in my mind.

    2. The gov’t that wants to compensate you for using 5% of your property against your will is a horror beyond comprehension.

      The gov’t that wants to steal 40-50% of your income every year against your will is simply not taking enough…

  3. especially if said surveying leads to what she fears: a staging area for drilling inside her property line.

    What possible basis is there for believing that surveying for a pipeline will lead to drilling?

    What possible basis is there for believing that drilling can be ordered by eminent domain?

    By all means, lets have a discussion about whether infrastructure should be done under eminent domain, but lets not have a discussion about things that won’t happen.

    1. I will tell you how she thinks that. She doesn’t own the mineral rights. Therefore she has no control over whether there is any drilling. The people who do own the rights control that. So, she is concerned that this will lead to drilling because she figures once she lets anyone on her property to survey, the mineral rights owners will either use that survey or feel empowered to do one themselves and then drill.

      Reason in a post about property rights, is holding up someone who wants to take away someone else’ property rights as some kind of example of the landowner fighting the man. Fuck that woman. She doesn’t own the mineral rights and has no right to bitch about the people who do exercising their right to drill.

      1. While mineral rights are separable from surface land rights in Virginia, it’s probable that she has both unless her family sold those rights off previously.

        1. If she has both, then she would not be concerned about surveying and drilling. If you own the mineral rights, no one drills on your land unless you agree. She is only concerned about surveying and drilling because she doesn’t own the mineral rights and thus can’t stop whoever does own them from drilling.

          Otherwise, her concerns are totally irrational as RC points out. I don’t think she is being irrational here.

          1. She could be worried about the mineral rights being subjected to eminent domain down the road.

            Not currently legal, but she might not know that.

            And honestly, is it such a stretch when after Kelo? Think of all the taxes the government is being denied when oil just sits in the ground…

            1. She could be worried about the mineral rights being subjected to eminent domain down the road.

              Considering that there has never been a single case of that in this country, that concern is pretty irrational as well. And she didn’t say that. She said surveying.

              1. I think you’re spot on here, she doesn’t control the mineral rights, and so can’t stop people from accessing their property.

                I imagine that sucks as a property owner, but it shouldn’t have been a surprise, you either sold them yourself, or you knew you weren’t getting them when you bought the property, and might have to deal with surveyors.

                1. In a different life, I defended oil and drilling companies in land damage and environmental law cases. There was one iron rule of that practice; show me an aggrieved landowner and I will show you someone who doesn’t own the mineral rights and isn’t getting paid.

              2. Considering that there has never been a single case of that in this country…

                Ahem, http://www.mineralweb.com/news…..al-rights/

        2. ” it’s probable that she has both ”

          Possible.

          I won’t go as far as probable.

          1. Virginia mineral rights come part and parcel with the land rights until separated by an owner.

            1. Yup.

              And the one’s I own were separated in 1934.

              What’s your point?

              1. That if the property has been in the family for 4 generations and it’s in Augusta County, that they were probably never separated. Not much drilling or mining in that area.

                1. Which is an assumption I’m not willing to make, especially in light of the situation that John describes.

                  1. I just checked, and while I haven’t been there recently, Augusta county is very close to the area where my property is.

                    There is plenty of surveying and other work where my property is. Maybe Augusta county is different, but i don’t see why it would be.

      2. She doesn’t own the mineral rights. Therefore she has no control over whether there is any drilling.

        Even where the surface owner owns no mineral rights, they still have access rights that they can monetize. This is a whole area of real estate that I am not an expert in, but mineral and surface rights have to coexist to some extent.

        In Texas, its very unusual for the mineral rights to still be un-severed from the surface rights. In other parts of the country, they are practically never severed. In Virginia, I have no idea.

        1. In Colorado they are severable, but if they are not exercised after a certain time (20 yrs?) they revert back to the existing land owner. HOAs can also own the rights in perpetuity (as long as the HOA exists). This has done pretty well to fuel the drilling boom in Colorado, since it means that there is a high likelihood that the owners of land will be invested in any drilling- either they sold the rights or they own them.

    2. The only drilling in pipeline construction is under roads, existing lines, waterbodies etc. This is transmission, not exploration or extraction.

      1. The way I read unto her argument is that she is afraid that once the pipeline is built then the owner of the mineral rights might just consider that reason to go ahead and drill there since transmission would be cheaper now

  4. “You dirt farmers can’t stand in the way of PROGRESS !”

  5. Drone surveying is pretty accurate now. I’m not certain why they’re walking it.

    1. Government regulations that require environmental testing and cultural preservation (as mentioned in the article). These require boring/excavating, not mere surveying (which could be done by drone as you mention, unless the area is heavily forested).

  6. She’ll let you survey her property if you come to her church on Sunday and be washed of your sins by the blood of the Lamb of God.

      1. Seems like a There Will Be Blood reference.

      2. There Will Be Blood reference. You see the movie? I guess not.

        1. Oh snap, Tonio, albo just drank your milkshake.

  7. “Candygram! Surveyor!”

  8. This is not the same as Kelo. Understand a couple of things. First, building a pipeline doesn’t evict you from your property or take ownership away from you. No one’s house is going to be bulldozed and no one is going to be forced to leave. At most, someone will be forced to endure a big whole being dug and then filled in leaving the land exactly as it was. Yes, that is an imposition, but it is quantitatively so much different than cases like Kelo that the two should not be compared.

    Second, most of the people complaining only own the surface rights to their land. That means the mineral rights holders could at any time come in and do a lot worse things than this pipeline company is doing and not owe them a dollar’s worth of compensation. Indeed, there is nothing that necessarily requires that the surface owners are the ones who should get a say here. The law says they do, but the law could just as easily and rationally say that since the pipeline is below the surface, that the mineral rights owners not the surface rights owners are the ones who should get paid.

    If Reason is concerned about eminent domain, this is not the hill to die on. These people are being paid and they are effectively not losing any of the use and enjoyment of their land. They are losing the right to object to a pipeline.

    1. It’s a mixed bag. I’m familiar with a lot of the protesters up in that part of the state. They’re vocal to the point that those who have cut deals with Dominion have kept very quiet. There are some domain issues at play, but there are also a lot of NIMBY’s who will not be affected at all that have taken up the cause.

      They’re pulling out all the stops in the process. They’re even finding new salamanders to force EPA reviews, etc…

      If you are in the path, it is an opportunity to make some good money though.

      1. They are being compensated. In a normal ED case where we are talking about tearing down homes and forcing people to move, I totally get the emotional cost of that and how just paying someone even the fair value of their property doesn’t make forcing them to move and give up their homes right.

        That is not what is happening here. No one’s home is being torn down. No one has to move. What is happening here is a small group of luddites are doing anything they can in furtherance of their irrational views. That is a totally different situation than something like the Atlantic Yards project or Kelo. And reason pretending its the same is frankly an insult to the real victims of ED. Sorry but having to suffer the indignity of evil fossil fuels flowing beneath your land is not quite the same thing as having to leave your home and seeing it bulldozed.

        1. I’m not disagreeing. I think it is much less intrusive than a roadway and the emotional arguments against it are silly. At the same time, the property owner should be respected.

          I know of a die-hard environmentalist who lives up in Highland County who moved out there from the big city so he could live closer to the land. Now this guy would never hesitate to tell you what you should or should not be able to do with your privately held land. He’s an obnoxious asshole. Guess what? The pipeline is coming straight through his property. I had to snicker.

          1. My objection to ED is that it allows the government to force people from their homes and never really compensates people for the harms done. None of that is the case here. I understand that it is the same thing in principle. Yes, property rights are property rights. But, the circumstances are so different and the harms so small compared to a normal ED case, that I find these’ people’s case to be completely unpersuasive. Yeah, can you defend them on the basis of principle? Sure. But that is the only thing they have going for them. You really have to believe that the government can never under any circumstances take any private property of any kind for any purpose to object to this. This is about the least compelling case of ED you are ever going to find.

    2. At most, someone will be forced to endure a big whole being dug

      Which is still a violation of property rights.

      Second, most of the people complaining only own the surface rights to their land.

      Which seems ridiculous to me. I can’t claim a lot of familiarity with Virginia’s laws, but it seems to me that if we are talking about property rights in the natural rights sort of sense, then there’s no distinction between the minerals on my land and anything else on my land besides the one conjured up by legislatures. Especially when/if exploitation of those minerals impacts my property.

      There are some domain issues at play, but there are also a lot of NIMBY’s who will not be affected at all that have taken up the cause.

      This is not lost on me.

      1. Which seems ridiculous to me. I can’t claim a lot of familiarity with Virginia’s laws, but it seems to me that if we are talking about property rights in the natural rights sort of sense, then there’s no distinction between the minerals on my land and anything else on my land besides the one conjured up by legislature

        That only seems absurd to you because you don’t understand property rights. They don’t own the mineral rights because some previous land owner sold the mineral rights separately to someone else. Natural law has nothing to do with it. You only own what you purchased. If I sell you my land and don’t want to sell you the mineral rights, I don’t and should not have to. If you don’t like just having the surface rights, don’t buy my land and if you do, price it accordingly.

        I for the life of me can’t understand how so many people can’t grasp how property rights actually work. “Property” is nothing but a bundle of things you can do with a piece of land. That is it. How big that bundle is depends on what you bought. It doesn’t have to include any particular aspect .

        And yes, there is a property right issue here. Just not a very big or important one.

        1. They don’t own the mineral rights because some previous land owner sold the mineral rights separately to someone else.

          Where does it say in the above that anyone sold away the mineral rights? No, your claim is that she doesn’t own them. Which I see no basis for.

          And yes, there is a property right issue here. Just not a very big or important one.

          I’m glad we have you here to tell us what is or isn’t an important property right issue. It’s good to know that the rest of us can just defer to your judgement if we have any issues with what someone else wants to do to our or on our land.

          1. No, your claim is that she doesn’t own them. Which I see no basis for

            You can tell she doesn’t own them because she is concerned about surveying and the possibility of that leading to drilling. If she owned the mineral rights, that would not matter because no one would drill without her permission. She is only concerned about surveying because she is afraid that they might find something which leads to drilling on her land, which she can’t prevent because she doesn’t own the rights.

            I’m glad we have you here to tell us what is or isn’t an important property right issue. It’s good to know that the rest of us can just defer to your judgement if we have any issues with what someone else wants to do to our or on our land.

            There is such a thing as quantity in addition to quality. These people are not victims in anything like the same way as the people in Kelo and Atlantic Yards were. They are not being forced to move or seeing their home torn down. They are just not. And pretending they are just makes you look like a nut and objections to ED look a lot less credible and reasonable. This is a stupid hill to die on.

            1. If she owned the mineral rights, that would not matter because no one would drill without her permission.

              One possibility. One. You want to rule out any other, but have no actual evidence. So instead of saying we need more evidence, you are on here telling us definitively what’s what when you don’t know much/any more than the rest of us.

              She is only concerned about surveying because she is afraid that they might find something which leads to drilling on her land,

              Same as above, but add to this that she should fully well have the right to exclude people from her property. You say that property rights are a “bundle of things you can do with a piece of land.” And a persons right are defined by contract and what was purchased. Tell me what your position is when the legislature reserves the right to retroactively strip landowners of rights well after they’ve purchased it?

              I don’t feel it’s my place, or anyone’s, to tell another person what is or isn’t a significant infringement of their property rights when we are talking law. Or a reasonable one, for that matter. It’s just the sort of special pleading that people often engage in to restrict any other right.

              And it’s funny to hear you talk about what hills libertarians should be dying on given some of the ones I’ve seen you pick in the past.

              1. Either she doesn’t own the mineral rights or she is completely irrational. I doubt she is irrational. The only way her objection makes sense is if she doesn’t own the mineral rights. If she does, then her objection is irrational. So either she is trying to prevent someone from using their rights or her concerns are irrational. Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on her. If you want to believe she is irrational, fine. I don’t see any reason to assume that but you certainly can.

                Same as above, but add to this that she should fully well have the right to exclude people from her property

                Maybe you don’t understand that that right doesn’t extend to preventing the mineral rights holder from drilling. The mineral rights holder can come right on her land without permission and without compensating her at all.

                I don’t feel it’s my place, or anyone’s, to tell another person what is or isn’t a significant infringement of their property rights when we are talking law

                I feel very confident in saying being paid to let them run a pipeline is not anything like the same thing as having your home bulldozed and being forced to move. I am going out on a limb here and saying that the latter is a much bigger problem and infringement than the former. If you want to claim otherwise, good luck with that.

                1. Maybe someone bought their land because they particularly liked the arrangement of rocks and trees. Disruption of things like that could be a much bigger loss to a land owner than some calculation of “fair market value” would suggest.

                  It may seem silly, but people can buy property for whatever silly reasons they want.

                  The problem with “fair market value” is that it isn’t really fair unless both buyer and seller agree that it is.

            2. So to sum things up – I see an argument where you build one assumption on top of another. And then tell everyone else how horribly wrong they are. If the mineral rights WERE sold, that’s one thing. But you don’t even know that basic fact and just want to assume based on what you, as a lawyer, deem to be reasonable behavior for a property owner.

              1. If your claim is this woman is stupid and irrational, she might be. She wouldn’t be the first. I don’t see what that buys you or how it makes her case any more compelling.

                1. Your argument rests on her not owning mineral rights. A fact that you don’t know at all.

                  1. No it doesn’t. My argument is that she is full of shit. And she is that either way.

                    1. You didn’t read anything beyond the Reason article, did you John? Because if you had clicked on either of the links in the first two paragraphs, you’d know that the pipeline is going to be drilled under the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail, and that the plan is for that 4000′ long hole to start on her property. It isn’t just going to magically appear, so she’s rightly concerned that all that drilling equipment is going to need to be sitting on her property for an extended period of time.

                      I’d suggest that you owe some of the other commenters an apology for your obtuse insistence, but since they didn’t read them either, I don’t think you do.

                      But you were wrong in your claim that, “Either she doesn’t own the mineral rights or she is completely irrational.” She seems to be rational and she (most likely) owns the mineral rights.

    3. The pipeline is above ground (3.5ft diamester) and they aren’t just taking the land under the pipeline, but also a 125 foot clearing right of way AROUND the pipeline. It is cutting a lot of properties in half and making a lot of land completely worthless.

      1. The pipeline is above ground

        No it isn’t. It is buried underground in a trench. Haven’t you ever seen a pipeline RoW before? They’re all over the country.

      2. How in the hell do you drive from New Orleans to Houston or Okie City?

        From your own fucking link… but it’s already begun surveying a route that would see the 42-inch buried pipe enter Virginia.

        Troll better, Edna.

  9. From the Facebutt link:

    If Mr. Farrell gets his way, the Palmer property (in white) would be the site of a two year, massive drilling and 4,000+ foot pipeline staging operation. The post-construction remnant would be a permanent 42 inch compressed natural gas pipeline that would forever ruin the Palmer and Wintergreen land, compromise safety and desecrate sacred family places.
    The same pipeline that will earn Mr. Farrell’s company $4.4 BILLION in operating profits and Mr. Farrell a sizable bonus.
    Shameful.

    Profits! So shameful!

    Hazel must be near to death, otherwise she would be arguing over the price instead.

    1. How does a 42 inch pipeline well below the surface “forever ruin the land”? I understand the property rights issues here. If she owns the land, she is free to have crazy ideas about it. What I don’t understand is why reason wants to hold her up as some kind of a hero fighting for good. No, she is not fighting for good. She is a nut and is fighting for absolutely the wrong thing. Of course as the landowner that is her right. But it being her right doesn’t make her any less of a loathsome nutcase.

      1. Maybe they need to cut a swath of trees and undergrowth along the length of it for maintenance and such?

        1. There is that.

        2. Plant new trees. They will grow back. Moreover, that is highly unlikely. It costs a fortune to remove trees versus just digging a hole. I seriously doubt they are routing that pipeline such that it requires taking down a swath of trees. They route them to avoid doing that because digging is a lot cheaper than logging.

          1. In the vicinity of the pipeline, the trees are removed permanently. It permits aerial inspections and access to the site. Usually there is a pipeline easement 25 ft on either side.

            1. 50 feet is not very big of a buffer. And you are paid for the loss in value of the land. If they cut trees that somehow ruin the value of the land, they have to pay your for it.

            2. As a kid, I would follow those pipeline paths to new forest to explore.

            3. It is 125 feet, not 25 feet.

          2. We just had an old well re-drilled and capped as part of another drilling operation happening nearby. While it was an inconvenience, it is amazing what happens when it is a contract between two private entities instead of the government telling you what they are going to do.

            My neighbors and I got our road repaved, and two neighbors got brand new fences out of the deal. They were all able to negotiate all sorts of concessions from the drilling company. And out of all of it, the company is now moving forward with drilling a well that will make us all a modest sum over coming years.

            1. This is a private contract. The pipeline company in 99% of the cases just goes out and buys and easement. ED only becomes an issue when a group of environmentalists get together and block the pipeline by refusing to sell at any price.

              Your example proves the point that this isn’t a big deal or a big infringement on rights. The pipeline company would happily deal with everyone like they dealt with you. The problem is these people don’t want to do that. And that has nothing to do with any concern about property rights or their particular piece of property. This is about them trying to shut down the oil and gas industry.

              I bet these people would let them put a solar farm on the land for free.

              1. This is like claiming most muggings are private contracts because most people hand over their wallets without the mugger actually having to get violent. Violence only becomes an issue when a group gets together and refuses to give the mugger their wallets.

        3. Maybe they need to cut a swath of trees and undergrowth along the length of it for maintenance and such?

          Also known as “a free road on your property for you to use, for free.”

          One of the unacknowledged benefits of pipelines and drilling is that the oil companies build and maintain really nice roads for the landowner.

          1. Which is great, except when the landowner doesn’t want roads there. What adds value from one person’s perspective doesn’t necessarily do so for everyone.

      2. It ruins it if all your friends are rich Augusta County liberals. How could you possibly have anyone over for dinner?

        1. Well there is a reason the pipeline is going through Augusta and Nelson County and not Albemarle County — that would really piss off the rich limousine liberals.

          BTW Nelson County usually has the highest % vote for libertarian candidates of any City/County in Virginia. That said, I am disappointed that their original arguments against the pipeline were mostly environmental NIMBYism and not, more rightfully, concerns about property rights and the use of eminent domain for a private energy project.

          1. You use what works, and for the most part the ‘concerns about property rights and the use of eminent domain for a private energy project’ ship has sailed. If I want to keep my property rights and I think an environmental NIMBYism argument will work and a ‘this isn’t a reasonable use of ED” argument won’t, I’m going to use what will work (well, really, I’m going to throw both of them out there and see if either works).

      3. Yeah, and forever is along, long time.

        1. Well, it’s not much longer for her. She got kids?

      4. Maybe what they are referring to as a staging area is a pump station on her property which is significantly more intrusive than a buried line.

        I’ve know quite a few ranchers and farmers who loved the money they got for having a pipeline run under there pasture.

      5. Maybe what they are referring to as a staging area is a pump station on her property which is significantly more intrusive than a buried line.

        I’ve know quite a few ranchers and farmers who loved the money they got for having a pipeline run under there pasture.

        1. Interesting. It may be a pump station, which is more of a pain than the pipeline.

          1. They buy the lad for compressor stations.

        2. *under them there pastures.

  10. I’ve wondered this before but if we’re burying pipelines, why aren’t we running them under the roads that are already there?

    1. Makes them inaccessible in case of problems. And a gas leak under a roadway presents its own set of problems.

      1. And you’d have to tear the road up in the process.

        1. Them’s the breaks. I don’t know how often that happens but it seems worth it to avoid taking land from people.

          1. This — there are state highways they could have put it in the middle of, but it would have been a lot more expensive (more pipes) but you’d avoid all the time and effort this property rights fight has created. Run it up 151 or 29 (lol jk wealthy well-connected Albemarle horse farmers would never let that happen).

        2. The roads aren’t torn up.

          A horizontal boring machine bores a tunnel under the road and then a casing is inserted through which the pipeline is run.

          1. Rereading made me realize you werent talking about road crossing but actually running under the road all the way.

            1. Yeah, I can’t see drilling along the axis of the road to put a pipe there. That’d just be crazy expensive for any extended run.

    2. Actually, pipeline companies will use existing public rights-of-way if they are available. The problem is that many of them are not wide enough to accommodate both the road and the pipeline and few road agencies want a gas pipeline under pavement mostly because of maintenance issues..

      Federal rules do not allow other utilities to occupy interstate highway ROWs unless they are required for road facilities (eg lighting and sign illumination) even though they technically belong to the states. It one of the many prices states pay for federal aid.

  11. You step on my property after I’ve told you I don’t want you there, I shoot you.

    Hide behind a sate law if you think it’ll help.

  12. Mineral rights has nothing to do with this. It’s an easement. Same as if it were powerlines.

    1. You are right. It only has something to do with it to the extent that it explains why the woman is so concerned about surveying and drilling.

      Yes, is an easement. Understand the arbitrary nature of property law. The pipe runs underground. You could just as easily say that the mineral rights owner not the surface owner is the one is owed an easement. It would be different than the rules as they are now but not irrational. Think about it, if I own the surface rights only, an underground pipeline doesn’t interfere with my quiet enjoyment of the property. It really interferes with the mineral rights owner since the mineral rights owner could not drill or mine where the pipeline is. Sure, putting the thing in interferes with the surface rights holder, but so does mining and drilling and the surface owner can’t stop or get compensated for that.

      When you look at this none of the normal concerns and objections to ED apply in these cases. I am not entirely convinced there is any real objection here, even on principle.

    2. Except that doesn’t really account for her concern about future drilling, and property rights do.

      So, saying “Mineral rights has nothing to do with this.” is pretty clearly wrong.

      1. Actually, they have right to establish an easement for a natural gas transport line. They would need to purchase a lease from her to drill from her property. These are two completely different issues and this is a completely bogus argument.

  13. If they drill on her property it is directional drilling to put the pipe under a river or other waterbody.

    1. They can’t drill from her property unless they purchase a lease from her. This issue is about a pipeline, not production drilling.

      1. They’ll drill (bore) to cross a river.

  14. Had a private property problem.
    Hired a surveyor to mark boundaries.
    Adversary tried to kick him off.
    Survey cited law, completed the task.
    Surveyors can enhance private property law, if only it stopped there.

  15. Sooo, just to bring this into focus, how about if said natural gas pipeline and supply companies shut off natural gas to the State of Virginia until they get the access they need? Or, are they compelled to supply, denied access to continue, and damned if they do and damned if they don’t?

    1. The pipeline is controlled by the same utilities that are going to generate electricity off of the gas.

  16. RE: Why Do We Force Employers to Cover the Full Cost of Birth Control but Not Food?
    Why the contraception but not the meatball sub?

    Her land?
    The land she resides on belongs to The State.
    Since when do the little people in this country have property rights?

  17. Basically this is making millions for a few executives and doing little else. Will the executives be able to buy off the politicians… probably, they usually do. Trump views eminent domain as one of the best ways he has made money.

  18. In California I could be fined if I just killed my lawn to save water. It would have be kept freshly green, replaced by artificial stuff (even this might be illegal) or have to take on some desert motif. “But that’s for the societal good’ Jackand Ace and tony night whine.

    Jack is being completely disingenuous, of course. If a government can’t put pipelines on my property, then it cannot logically force me to buy a product from a private company unless I want to pay a penaltax. And no, it’s not like seat belt or helmet law, healthcare market isn’t like a shared freeways.

    Hey Jack, who says I should be fined or even sent to jail for smoking inside my own home? Your unhinged lib friends. Your concern trolling fools nobody.

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