As a landowner facing the ACP dissecting the family farm my family has operated for over 100 years for over a mile, I honestly feel frightened and that the American Dream is a sham. The ACP is sited within 600 feet of the 1804 farmhouse I planned to retire to and we have had no success getting it moved farther from our primary farm buildings and home, even on our own land. The Compression Station will be about 3 miles before the gas crosses our property and recently ACP announced that its horsepower will be even higher, making our blast zone location even more dangerous. FERC has refused to even hold a single scoping meeting in the county. I have learned that there is essentially no safety oversight of pipelines by the government, especially for those living in rural areas. The few resources available are focused on heavily populated areas and the funding for even basic pipeline inspections has not been provided in our quest to reduce federal spending and with industry pressure to avoid regulation that limits its earnings.
If this pipeline was something that I believed we truly needed, if I could trust that our environment is safe, if I had hard data to show that the middle of my property is the best place for this, if there was any prospect that I might get something of on-going value in return for having my property essentially taken over by another business, if I had some guarantee of safety, if I had some guarantee that if an accident occurs my costs will be reimbursed without a court battle, if the company was even honest and up-front with us, sharing vital information in a timely and open manner, I might feel differently. However, given the situation, I am left feeling that what I thought was a basic American value of and respect for personal property is a farce. When a company that claims to provide public benefit but is really primarily focused on earning as much money as possible can unilaterally take over my property, especially property that is the basis of a long-term business with prospects for the future, I feel cheated. Adding insult to injury, my property in Montgomery county is within 5 miles of the MVP Compression Station.
The eminent domain laws were not written to allow property to be used for private gain. Exporting this gas means there will be private gain. For decades this country has sought energy independence. If natural gas provides that, why would we give up long term independence so that some people make more money now?
It’s time for us to have a serious discussion about how we define the public interest, how eminent domain is used, how we balance immediate and long term goals, and how private property owners are compensated when land is taken. I never thought that as an American my true property rights could be so minimal or my property and personal safety so nonchalantly ignored.
I have tried to keep this short. I could expound more on a lot of it, especially the safety. There are few 42 inch high pressure pipelines like this in service and I believe that there is a huge difference in the risk of that system compared to a 20 inch – or smaller - pipeline without high pressure. The risk we are being placed under is much higher and the loss of property value we will experience will be much greater than has occurred in the past. However, these are ignored and everything is based on evidence from the smaller, non-pressure pipelines. Both the process for approving such infrastructure and the requirements of the pipeline owners were developed for a different time and a different situation and need to be changed if we are to adhere to the principles I believe the United States holds.
You (the Roanoke Times) make the case that there is public benefit in these pipelines. I think that is a stretch akin to saying that because a proposed use will result in more tax income, it is better for all, even if it destroys an existing business that provides less income. I think that is what we passed the constitutional amendment about. These pipelines are not primarily to get a basic service to all people in all communities, earning a reasonable rate of return for little risk. Today our utilities get guaranteed high rates of return and serve those they choose as they choose, not everyone at a reasonable price. These pipelines are LLC’s. The LLC has no obligation to serve anyone. Its only obligation is to make money for its owners. Even if you say that the ACP is related to obligation to serve, the portion of the gas that will be used for that purpose is small compared with the quantity that will be moved. If all we were doing was taking care of that obligation to serve, a much smaller pipeline, without pressure, could be used and we would have less risk. When we get to the point of allowing a bigger business to take my property so that it can make more money, you can argue that more people benefit but it goes against everything I think our country stands for in terms of individual rights and individual ability to work hard and benefit from that work. My family has worked hard. Is working hard. We’ve earned what we own and we pay taxes. Now an unrelated business that does not and will not serve us is going to be allowed to take over our land, use it as it sees fit, pay us only a small one time fee for permanently changing what we can do with our own property and exposing us to huge personal safety and property risks. That is wrong.
Few permanent jobs will result from these pipelines. Most communities already have access to gas in some way. If it was going to bring new jobs, it would have happened. The huge quantity of gas required to be used and the size of industry that would be required to afford the connection would not be supported by other community resources. The growth in jobs is a fantasy. The data on which the economic benefit claimed by the companies is not verifiable. Huge assumptions are made without basis.
For me, it boils down to: Who has the right to use my property, me or someone else?
Today as I talked with Momentum supervisor. Momentum transmission has a project here that is a 36 inch line from Doddridge and Harrison heading into Braxton then, I think, joining existing line, the B&W (Baltimore & Washington) line to Chesapeake Bay. I was told that Dominion plans to refit an existing import facility for export of gas to international market. Also spoke with the logging supervisor. They intend to have all the timber dropped by March 1 in order to get the trees down before return of Indiana bats. They plan to have this project ready for gas by end of 2015. I asked specifically if this had any connection to Atlantic Coast or Mountain Valley. No.
They plan to pile and burn the tree tops and wife and I plan to be ready to complain to DNR, for what it is worth. We also are gearing to raise hell when our road is torn up. They are making a big loop around us, as we told them to take a hike. BTW, our neighbors signed up with Momentum for $5,000/disturbed acre, ouch.
Consol Energy has teamed up with a Texas company to form CONE Gathering. They are trying to buy up ROW options around here. Land man told us that CONE plans on two 24inch gas lines and a 16inch waterline on their ROW. I suppose they plan to move gas to the big lines and move water in and out from well pads.
So, lots of pipeline projects going on.
Free Nelson Folks met me at Jane Lew about 4:30 or so. We looked at maps of the proposed route of ACP in Lewis. Noted the crossing of I79 just south of the Jane Lew interchange, followed ACP around Jane Lew and down Broad Run to crossing near Broad Run Church. Stopped at Lightburn Station and Extraction Facility (no security accosted us this time). Noted the crossing of West Fork River just a bit upstream from Lightburn, then stopped and viewed the proposed location of the compressor station at mouth of Hollick Run. Proceeded up Kinchloe Creek viewing proposed route on ridge south side of creek. Detoured up Elk Lick and Left Millstone to view the Stonewall Gas Gathering line clearing in progress, a 100 foot ROW clearing for that 36 inch gathering line. Back to mouth of Elk Lick to view the Consol well pad that has been under construction all winter. We noted the seeding that has begun and the erosion that is in progress. Apparently, Consol has decided not to move a rig in on this pad until market conditions are better. Then proceeded up Kinchloe to Benson and the end of the proposed main ACP line. We discussed how the ACP, MVP, Stonewall Gathering, proposed CONE Gathering and other lines all converge here. Also noticed a new ROW clearing crossing Kinchloe east of Turkey Pen. I do not recognize the color flagging as belonging to any of the other lines with which I am familiar. Decided at this time to head to Weston for Mexican. Busy day for Heidi, Marilyn, and Brad. Brad shot some film, others took a few photos. Thursday plans up for discussion, though they want to head back to Nelson County by around noon.
FYI and for what it's worth: Spoke with supervisor on the ROW clearing company (from PA). He is aware of permit needs from DEP and from counties for burning and assures me they have the permits. Also is up to date on the regulations on their burning. I think he is going by the letter of the law. BTW, Wife and I went for a drive yesterday evening, looking for smoldering brush piles and could find none; I will check out the close piles this evening and see if they have them extinguished.
I asked about timelines and he told me they aim to move 1/2 mile a day on average for all aspects from clearing ROW to pipeline to reclamation. He says they are maintaining that schedule so far and aim to have gas in the pipeline by end of November.
CONE Gathering LLC, part of Consol and Noble Energy, have a lot of options to negotiate ROWs in this area. They are contacting landowners and renewing their option for a second year @ $1000/landowner/year, rather than proceeding with negotiations and construction. The option agreement gave them one year for $1000 with the ability to renew for a second year for same money. No explanation; perhaps waiting for clear market trends and on progress on the interstate lines? Anyway, they have invested a lot of $$ so far on getting and paying for the options. Assuming they exercise their options, they would have to negotiate an agreeable route with the landowners and finalize the deal. The initial plans according to landmen were for two 24 inch gas lines and one 16 inch water line on the ROW at a compensation of $1/inch of pipe diameter/linear foot, or $64/linear foot. Who knows what will come of that. They have options with many landowners in this Kinchloe area.
Yes; they (Stonewall) are moving right along in our area on the Harrison County line. The ROW going around our place is now ready for ditching and pipeline. Lull here now, awaiting the pipeliners. Has been really noisy and annoying for the past few weeks. Noise, smoke, and traffic have moved on over to Mare Run and into Freeman's creek here now. The crew moving and stockpiling the topsoil from the ROW told me the pipeliners were about 2 weeks behind them. Lots of well permits have been issued just on the Harrison/Lewis County line. Antero has been big in that area. Now Consol is gearing up for lots of drilling. They have a bunch of wells permitted. Mike Ross, BTW, has a horizontal well permitted in his name just across the Harrison County line from us. Also of interest; CONE Gathering LLC, a collusion of Consol Energy and Noble Energy has put off their gathering line project for a while. They optioned a ROW in the area with a lot of local landowners last year and have extended their option for another year, paying all the landowners involved another $1000 for a second year to hold the option. It would be moving through much the same area as the Stonewall Gathering project if it goes, crossing that line a few times. What we heard from landman (so, take that with a dose of salt) is that CONE was proposing two 24 inch gas lines and one 16 inch water line on their right of way. Seems to be Consol's plan for getting their gas out and frack water in and out as they expand into Lewis County. Remember that Consol now has all of Buffalo Lake in southern Harrison County for water supply and would be nice for them to run pipelines into their drilling fields, rather than running trucks. Interesting Times for sure.
"Paired Sales" analysis studies relating to gas pipelines (comparing sales of properties encumbered with a gas pipeline easement to an otherwise similar properties not encumbered) are the type of empirical data most land valuation experts (appraisers) like to consider/rely upon in eminent domain cases. The studies can also be strong evidence of the economical costs to property owners who are never made whole because they are not reimbursed their expert and legal fees in establishing a fair value for the easement acquisition. None of the ACP states presently have statutes on the books or case law precedent (like Florida) requiring reimbursement of those expenditures. FERC needs to appreciate the fact (as does Congress) that exercise of the power of eminent domain is not making property owners whole for loss of property and property rights. They are in a worse position after eminent domain than before. Energy companies will realize huge profits permanently using properties of citizens who get but one opportunity for compensation in a manner that falls well short of being made whole.I have a recent paired sales study relied on by an appraiser for Dominion which reflects a range of diminution in value from 29% to 70% for properties encumbered by easements for HVTL (high voltage transmission lines). They are considered less of a negative than gas pipelines for many reasons, the least of which is not fear in the marketplace. Collection of this type of data is very helpful to rebut the many studies undertaken by the energy industry with self-fulfilling prophecies. (This comment was made by an attorney.)
That would be a great kind of study to do or get hold of. Seems that one would need some experience in the real estate business, as well as lots of time. Local realtors to whom I have spoken seem unconcerned about potential loses of value to land owners. The realtors are generally doing quite well right now with rental properties being profitable and with some few landowners cashing in on big payouts. The realtors make out well no matter what happens to you. Studies that I have looked at often just report the average for an impacted region and seem to see little downside, which is little help if you happen to own the property that is affected. Just my $.02 this morning.
About Buffalo Lake. I think Mike n Ike and some other front men bought it a few years ago. I remembered at the time thinking that they wanted it for frack water supply. Yes, my worry has been that pipes do go in two directions and Buffalo Lake would make a good source of clean water and also a way to dilute waste water before passing it on to the West Fork.
Recall that Consol was diluting frack water through abandoned deep mines in Northern WV and SW PA and resulted in the killing of Dunkard's Creek in 2009. Specifically, their releases increased the salinity of Dunkard's to the point that the golden algae could flourish and kill everything with the secreted toxins. It took a long time to pin that on them. I do not know how the suit went to get them to pay costs on that. I expect they settled out of court for some modest sum.
April; in the batch of photos that I gave you on the first flash drive I passed on to you are some photos of the Buffalo Lake. Also, I think I put a few photos and comments on our Facebook page. Would have been back in late winter. If you look at the posted signs at the lake, yes, it is exclusive, though I suppose Consol might sell water to other companies.
Also of concern is the water intake constructed on the West Fork just downstream from Two Lick. Also some photos on the flash drive of that. If/when there is ever any effort to quantify or regulate water withdrawals from public waterways, they will have that facility in place and grandfathered in.
Timber is cut on entire 60 miles. I think some downed timber has not yet been cleared and burned in south part. Some of northern sections have been covered over. Welding is going on now near Big Isaac/Kinchloe area. Pipe is strung as far as Mare Run, no pipe at Right Fork of Freeman's Creek yet. I looked at all easily road crossings today from start to crossing of RT 33 at Pricetown. All that should be visible from air once you get close. I will download the GPS waypoints to computer this evening and pass along to any and all who can use.
All; I did snap one photo of Kinchloe Creek yesterday running full of mud. As I was traveling about yesterday, I noticed that erosion gullies are starting to show on some of the hillsides. A flagger on Buffalo Calf yesterday told me that there was a pretty big slip somewhere in first few miles on a section that had been backfilled. Perhaps that will show on the fly over. I will try to get out and document some more of the erosion and such locally.
As I thought, MVP and Stonewall roughly parallel each other through most of Lewis. Stonewall begins between and a little south of Smithburg and Salem and ends east of Flatwoods in Braxton. At my home, Stonewall is a few hundred feet from my house, MVP is a couple miles west, ACP is a few hundred yards from my property and CONE Gathering is still talking about crossing my property. Horizontal well permits are now on Kinchloe, within a mile of my property. Next round of drilling will certainly be right in my backyard. If things continue as they have, Becky and I will be completely surrounded by pipelines and well pads. Ouch!
Hi; B and I returned home this afternoon to find our road a mess again due to Precision Pipeline's heavy traffic. Our road has been graded by them on a nearly daily basis since late april and they have scraped off all the compacted rock base down to underlying clay. As it gets muddy, they just grade it off again. Their trucks have run into and closed off the ditches so water now runs down the road when it rains. They have compacted the soft spots into holes and humps that catch water and make a mess. I jump whoever is around everytime I see them now. Got a name and phone number for Precision's Landman. Mike Hampton 715 558 3707. You may have seen him in the local paper handing $5000 check to Pricetown Fire Department and another $5000 to Lewis County Sherrif. I called Mike and jumped him pretty hard over our road and their lack of concern for local citizens. He offered to pass my complaint on to their environmental officer. I offered to call the environmental guy myself, but Mike would not pass on that person's name or number.
Anyway, Mike called me back a few minutes later to let me know that 2 truckloads of rock will be coming tomorrow and that the grader operator will be instructed to pull the ditches from now on. A little, but not enough. I'll plan to keep bugging Mike as long as his people are bugging me. I'd suggest that you all call Mike Hampton with any complaints about roads, noise, traffic, smoke, dust, trespassing, disruption of your lifestyle, and etc. Please pass this on if you want. I do not have a big email list made up.
Oh, we also call Gary Weaver at the Lewis County DOH office 304. 269 8948. We jump his case regularly about road conditions and often suggest that, if Precision Pipeline can't keep the roads open, safe, and in good condition for local residents, that Gary has a responsibility to shut them down. I think regular calls to Gary Weaver would be in order from all of us. It is about time for us to also start calling Gary's supervisor.
Finally, do not leave out your delegates and senators. Make their lives as miserable as Momentum, Stonewall, Precision, and their sub-contractors are making your lives.
Hi Folks; Here are a few photos of progress on Stonewall Gathering next to our home. As always, I only have a short email list, so share with others and use as you see fit. It took them about 3 days to do the stretch you see in the series of photos. It is rocky. A lot of banging and pounding going on. If you count the joints, you can see that this is about 600 feet of pipe. The yellow wrap is placed to protect the pipe where it passes through rocky sections. They had a crew of two workers doing the wrapping. I think all my photos have a short caption with them that would show in most photo viewers if you scroll across.
Spoke with a worker from Minnesota this morning. He's been working in the area for 3 years now on various pipelines. He says every year they have gotten more rain than they thought they would or that they planned for; duh!
BTW, all my photos, up to this recent batch, have been put on a flash drive and passed on to D. I think she is transferring to her computer then passing on to others. If you want to see my chronological documentation of Stonewall Gathering from last fall through now, let us know and we will try to track down the flash drive and get it to you. I think D may have planned to pass it on to M. I hope it gets passed around and does somebody some good.
Spoke with Mike Hampton of Precision Pipeline this morning again about our road. Since they worked on it last week, the surface is compacted and rutted to the point where our car drags. Mike promised they'd get it fixed. He says they just added another grader to maintain all these roads they damage; that is two graders over the entire 55 to 60 miles of pipeline! Of course, as they move on to new sections of the pipeline, they need to fix more and more roads. I also expressed to Mike my concern that they would not get the road back to original or better condition by the time they pull out. Mike assured my that they would haul in the gravel needed. I pointed out that there was damage that exceeded what would be fixed by a few loads of gravel. We will see how much of the damage to roads is left unfixed and is passed on as a long term cost to taxpayers. Oh, last week when I spoke with Mike, he kind of tried to excuse their damage by pointing out that these roads were never designed for the loads they are experiencing now. I pointed out that anybody could have told them that. I also pointed out that they should have planned ahead and upgraded the roads to the expected loads and traffic before they started and added that as a business expense.
Yes, they have come a long way from the tree felling going on last winter, though it seems like plenty long time when you are listening to them every day. The wood cribbing will be left behind when they lift the pipe into the ditch. They did the trench alongside the welded sections and then lift the pipe into the trench. Before putting the pipe in, I noted that they pile up loose soil at intervals to cushion the pipe, I'd guess. I have not yet seen the actual lifting of the pipe into the trenches. They must weld some sections together in the pipe, like that section in the photo with the brown joint of pipe that must be moved for the stream crossing.
CONE Gathering has been signing options for a ROW in this area. The land man told us that CONE planned two 24 inch gas lines and one 16 inch water line on the ROW, if/when they exercise their option. Who knows what actual plans are.
CONE is a collaboration between Consol and Noble Energy. This is an intrastate gathering line project. Probably hooking into some of the big interstate lines, though I do not know which lines or if they have other plans. Not sure how much area they are active in or where the lines will run. I do know that they have spoken with a lot of land owners in southern Harrison and northern Lewis counties. Also, not sure if or when they will go ahead and build their lines. They were taking out options to purchase a ROW back in 2014. Option lasted until May 2016 (2 years) at payment of $1000/year for the option for each property crossed. Consol (CNX) has a number of active well pads and also a number of permits and permit applications in southern Harrison and into Lewis counties. I guess they want to have infrastructure to get their gas out when they do start drilling actively again.
Tom Berlin reports on the CONE gathering line in Lewis County: CONE Gathering has been signing options for a ROW in this area. The land man told us that CONE planned two 24 inch gas lines and one 16 inch water line on the ROW, if/when they exercise their option. Who knows what actual plans are.CONE is a collaboration between Consol and Noble Energy. This is an intrastate gathering line project. Probably hooking into some of the big interstate lines, though I do not know which lines or if they have other plans. Not sure how much area they are active in or where the lines will run. I do know that they have spoken with a lot of land owners in southern Harrison and northern Lewis counties. Also, not sure if or when they will go ahead and build their lines. They were taking out options to purchase a ROW back in 2014. Option lasted until May 2016 (2 years) at payment of $1000/year for the option for each property crossed. Consol (CNX) has a number of active well pads and also a number of permits and permit applications in southern Harrison and into Lewis counties. I guess they want to have infrastructure to get their gas out when they do start drilling actively again.
Re Stonewall line, Tom says: The ROW agreement that Momentum was pushing for the Stonewall project gave them right for multiple lines and for things other than natural gas. It also said they could sell or reassign their rights to others. I do note that they have placed their pipe very close to one side, giving them lots of room for more construction.
Author - You
If you have a story about living with fracking or pipelines, please send it to us and we will publish it here.