Abusive Use of Eminent Domain to Build Ohio Pipelines (Part 1)

piplineIt starts with a knock at the door. A friendly man with a nice smile greets you and tells you that he works for a company that works for a company that is building a pipeline. The pipeline has a fun, friendly name like Utopia, Mariner, or Cornerstone.

The pipeline will carry petroleum and petroleum components: “Everything our country needs to keep growing!”, he will say. He tells you that your property is being considered as a possible route for the pipeline and that they would like to conduct some very noninvasive surveys. For the courtesy, they’ll even give you a few bucks. You figure: what’s the harm?

The survey comes and goes. You may not even notice they were there, except for a few wooden stakes with colorful ribbon tied to the tops. Maybe you do notice a muddy tire track in your grass or a broken tree limb. You call the friendly man up and he arrives with a smile and a checkbook asking what he can do to make it up to you.

Several weeks or months later, the same smiling man gives you call and asks to stop by to talk about the pipeline. Or perhaps he calls to let you know that they are having meetings in the town hall to provide information about the pipeline. At the meeting, you are given some one-on- one time with your smiling friend who cuts you checks and another man wearing a logoed polo shirt. You recognize the logo on the polo shirt. It must be the company that the company of the friendly man is doing work for.

The man wearing the polo shirt answers all your questions. He tells you that the pipeline will carry hydrocarbons (NGLs he may call them) like ethane, propane, and butane. He even passes out a stress ball shaped like a construction helmet, an oil barrel, or some other innocuous object. He thanks you for your time and tells you that they may be in touch.

Sure enough, a few months go by and the friendly man is once again ringing your doorbell. You open the door; after all, he and the company his company works for have been so kind and generous. He tells you that you are lucky: your property has been chosen to be part of the route for the fantastically named pipeline that will solve all of America’s energy needs! He also brings with him a monetary offer, couched in linear feet. He gives you the offer and, in the same breath, tells you not to take it: that you should counter as he can probably get you more. So nice of him!

He’ll come back next week and see how you are doing. You spend the next week thinking of how much to counter offer. You don’t want to ask for too much, as you don’t want to seem rude. The knock at the door comes and there is the friendly man. You double his offer. He pauses. He sucks his teeth. He tells you that it is early on in the project and he is not sure he can get you that kind of money, but that he will try his darndest. A few days later you get a call. The company that his company works for has accepted your counter! He can come by in the morning with the paperwork. You feel pretty good about yourself.

‘What’s the catch?’ you are probably asking yourself. Stick around for the next Part to see!

Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA located in Dublin, Ohio, is currently leading the charge against the abusive use of eminent domain by privately owned pipeline companies against Ohio landowners. Whether you do not want a pipeline on your property or simply want fair compensation, we want to help.