Tennessee Gas seeks ‘pre-condemnation’ access for pipeline surveys as 408 Massachusetts landowners resist

Western Mass. orchardists Tom Clark, Tom Bashista, and Brad Morse
Tom Clark of Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield is one of 408 Massachusetts landowners refusing access to surveyors for the planned Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. (Mary Serreze photo)
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Tennessee Gas Pipeline is targeting 408 Massachusetts property owners who refused or failed to let workers survey their land for the proposed 420-mile Kinder Morgan-Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline.

In filings last week, the pipeline company petitioned the state’s Department of Public Utilities for power to enter the properties to conduct civil engineering and geotechnical surveys. Tennessee also wants access to assess for archaeological resources, wetlands and endangered or rare species and find vernal pools.

Tennessee Gas claims it is entitled to “pre-condemnation survey access” to the properties “preliminary to eminent domain proceedings.” The company cites case law, portions of Massachusetts general law, and a prior 2004 DPU order.

The DPU itself asserts in a recent fact sheet that it has statutory authority to allow the surveys, and also to grant eminent domain rights to pipeline companies with approved routes.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires Tennessee to survey properties along the pipeline route to prepare environmental documentation. The pipeline company filed its massive federal application with FERC on Nov. 20, and the project is currently under review.

Tennessee Gas says it sent letters and made phone calls, and even tried to make personal contact, but 408 landowners along the proposed route have either “expressly refused to grant Tennessee permission to conduct the surveys” or not responded.

“… (the landowners are) minding their own business and seeking to simply live their lives in peace.”

The list of property ownersdigging in their heels includes names from across the state. In Western Massachusetts, notable landowners include Deerfield Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon School, First Light Hydro Generating Co. in Northfield, Clarkdale Fruit Farm and Ciesluk Farm in Deerfield and Woolman Hill Quaker Retreat Center in Deerfield.

Notably, the company’s DPU filings do not include a request to enter over 100 conservation parcels in Massachusetts, many of which are protected from development under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution. Tennessee may need legislative approval to gain easements through those properties.

The company says it will conduct its work within a 400-foot-wide “survey corridor” and stay 25 feet away from any house. Tennessee says the pipeline will need a 50-foot permanent right-of-way with a wider construction corridor. Much of the corridor will be next to existing utility rights-of-way, according to filings.

Pipe Line Awareness Network president Kathryn Eiseman said the landowners are “minding their own business and seeking to simply live their lives in peace” and that her group is “working to ensure that they have the legal guidance they need to deal with this assault on their privacy and unjustified intrusion on their property.”

Under the Natural Gas Act, Tennessee Gas, a Kinder Morgan subsidiary, would win the power of eminent domain if it gains a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from FERC. Eminent domain would let the pipeline company forcibly take private and public land.

The DPU will hold hearings across the state on the survey matter, including March 29 at Berkshire Community College and March 30 at Greenfield Middle School. Both hearings start at 7 p.m.

Mary Serreze can be reached at mserreze@gmail.com

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas23 hours ago

Here is one of the many problems with this pipeline, and taking land from homeowners. From Wikipedia, ‘The Fifth Amendment imposes limitations on the exercise of eminent domain: the taking must be for public use and just compensation must be paid’, the key word here being PUBLIC USE. Most of the gas through this pipeline is slated for EXPORT. The Lynnfield Lateral and Peabody Laterals is a 24″ Lateral which connects the pipeline from Dracut to the existing Maritime pipeline in Danvers, which runs all the way to Canada. Permits are being filed to reverse the flow in this pipeline to EXPORT the gas. So while we already had a pipeline coming to feed gas to New England from Canada now they are  reversing and turning it and the Lynnfield / Peabody Laterals into an EXPORT PIPELINE!!

So now, they are citing Eminent Domain to take land from homeowners, BUT AN EXPORT PIPELINE IS NOT PUBLIC USE,  AND THEREFORE THE TAKING OF LAND FROM HOMEOWNERS FOR AN EXPORT PIPELINE VIOLATES THESE AMERICAN CITIZENS FIFTH AMMENDMENT!!

Here is some more information on the Fifth Amendment and Eminent Domain from Wikipedia:

James Madison, who wrote the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, had a more moderate view, and struck a compromise that sought to at least protect property rights somewhat by explicitly mandating compensation and using the term “public use” rather than “public purpose,” “public interest”, or “public benefit

While an EXPORT PIPELINE may be considered public interest or public benefit, if the pipeline is an export pipeline, I challenge anyone here to tell me that an export pipeline is public use!

That Guy

That Guy22 hours ago

@Rob Douglas

Everywhere I’ve read says the pipeline is for the moving of the gas from the West Virginia/Pennsylvania area fracking mines to be delivered for use in this area. Therefore, it would be for public use. It mentions nothing about exporting to Canada (and being one of the world’s largest exporters of natural gas, I can’t see why they would pay to import). In fact, the closest to the exporting of natural gas I could find was how the US just started to do so in Louisiana and Texas via ships in the gulf, not a pipeline. Do you happen to have any evidence to the contrary?

Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas5 hours ago

@That Guy @Rob Douglas  , I do have proof. If you google ‘Maritimes and northeast pipeline reversal’ you will see several articles about the reversal of the pipeline. Including this one in the Bangor Daily News –

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/02/12/energy/maritimes-and-northeast-pipeline-owner-wants-to-retrofit-pipeline-to-bring-gas-from-south/

Here is another:

http://www.ecori.org/renewable-energy/2015/2/14/energy-companies-keep-quiet-on-this-front

You see KM is keeping this FACT quiet. They are FABRICATING the gas shortage to justify this pipeline!

Here is an article about the LNG export facility:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-uses-sought-for-saint-john-s-canaport-lng-terminal-1.2538819

IRVING OIL is involved with this as well and IRVING has just applied for intervener status in support of the pipeline so I am also telling everyone to BOYCOTT IRVING

forpar

forpar13 days ago

Good, let them freeze! Looks like at the Clarkdale fruit farms, fruits don’t grow just on trees.

kelty

kelty13 days ago

Tennessee says the pipeline will need a 50-foot permanent right-of-way with a wider construction corridor. Much of the corridor will be next to existing utility rights-of-way, according to filings.

This is patently untrue.
1) They cannot put pipelines under, or even too close to, Electric Transmission lines as the EMFs can cause corrosion and pipe failures with disastrous results.

2) The current Easements the Transmission lines fall within were made specifically for Electric Transmission Lines and, unless, they re-write those Easements or get the express permission from those property owners to use those current easements, they cannot build within them.

forpar

forpar13 days ago

@kelty

Good Grief. EMF corrosion problems for pipes 50 feet away? Share with us the proof of that one. Pipes are grounded just like my home Faraday cage which is specifically designed to prevent the adverse effects of EMF. You liberals will try anything, honest or not.

Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas23 hours ago

@forpar @kelty  forpar, obviously you are not a corrosion engineer, and probably not even a college graduate, but yet you feel the need to comment on something you know nothing about- I AM a petroleum engineer, and I also  work closely with one of the very FEW Mass certified corrosion engineers who also does work for these same gas companies, fixing and certifiying the corrosion protection systems on buried gas pipes. I have asked him personally about this, and yes it is true and kelty’s comments are correct. Can kelty fit this information in a comment box? No. Would you even understand it? My guess is no..

ReturnedfromCalifornia

ReturnedfromCalifornia13 days ago

Eminent domain and condemnation proceedings?  Are you kidding me?  How has this situation gotten so out of control?  It’s no wonder people are outraged about this issue.  Property owners, hold firm.

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