This is certainly true where I live. Here the Democratic governor, former DNC head (I still can’t believe he got elected) Terry McAuliffe gave the green light to a new pipeline which will be owned and operated by Dominion Power which the company hopes will run just to the south of Charlottesville Virginia (my home town).
It is interesting that the Dominion/McAuliffe pipeline is slated to run right through the heart of Nelson County (to my south) and takes a jog around the well heeled and powerful city of Charlottesville (home to The University of Virginia). This is not a coincidence.
For the pipeline to go in the power company will lean heavily on the state to enforce “eminent domain” regs. The pipeline you see will mean plowing up people’s private property and Dominion doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of respecting the individual property rights of landowners. It instead will use the state to force landowners to allow Dominion Power – a private company – to come in and dig up their land.
Some people complain about the pipeline because it will encourage fracking. Natgas is generally good for the environment and is abundant, but there related crony issues about how companies get exempted from revealing the chemicals they add to the massive amounts of water used. Even so, people should have their property rights respected. Crushing the less powerful under the wheel of eminent domain stinks.
Dominion, negotiate with these people individually or don’t do the project.
One way the company could potentially compensate land owners is by granting an interest in the pipeline indefinitely. For every BTU that flows through the pipeline give the landowners a piece commensurate with the distance traveled by the gas over a respective owner’s land.
And even then there will be people who won’t play. As such then it is on Dominion to go around that particular landowner(s).
Yes all of this means the pipeline will be much more expensive. But it’s about time companies like Dominion incurred the full cost of their deals. They shouldn’t just be able to bypass the citizenry just because the company is powerful and connected. In the Commonwealth of Virginia people’s property rights must be respected.
Like many of his neighbors, Winstead has been approached by land agents employed by Dominion, which is partnering with Duke Energy on the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. So far, Winstead has refused to sign an easement agreement and is preparing for legal proceedings.
“If they take me to court and the judge rules in their favor, I won’t have any choice but to accept it,” he said. “But I am not going to swing open the gate at this time.”
To the south of Winstead’s farm, Barbara Exum also has been approached about signing an easement agreement for the pipeline. Along with safety concerns, she fears the easement could reduce the value of her property in Kenly, North Carolina, which includes her house and a 30-acre family farm.
“Before this, I knew all about eminent domain, but I never had any idea it could be used this way,” she said. “This is a private company, seeking private property.”