What to do when approached about pipeline easements

An estimated 38,000 miles of new or upgraded pipelines are in the works for Ohio. Here are some helpful tips from Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of energy, utility and local government policy on what to do if you are approached by leasing agents about pipeline work planned to cross your property.

Find out what type of pipeline is being installed (interstate, intrastate) and who has jurisdiction over the pipeline: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) or Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

If FERC or PUCO are involved, odds are that eminent domain will apply but only for rights of access – everything else is negotiable. If eminent domain does not apply, which is usually the case with projects developed by private companies, everything is negotiable including access.

Eminent domain can be intimidating, but certain conditions must be met before companies can start legal proceedings to use eminent domain, and the litigation is expensive for the companies. As long as you are considering the offer and negotiating, companies will work with you.

Hire an attorney who specializes in pipeline or landowner issues.The agreements will be in place for generations so you want to be sure they are well thought out.

Investigate what should be considered the fair market value of your land by looking into similar properties at the auditor’s office or asking a real estate agent.

Consider long-term land use and the potential value of the land for future development.

Negotiate for loss of the land’s real estate value, land affected by construction, loss of crop production due to compaction and attorney or expert fees.

Along with detailing your financial settlement, consider a lease agreement as a construction work order. Get in writing within the easement everything concerning how your soil, drainage infrastructure and on farm facilities are to be protected, repaired and/or remediated. This includes how the company will pay for ongoing preventive maintenance and other impacts to the property throughout the scope of the agreement.

Ask to look over all paperwork and take your time to review with legal counsel.

Ohio Farm Bureau members with questions can contact Arnold via email or call 614-246-8294.

Membership Matters. Pipeline easements and information about oil and gas leases are examples of the many member services your dues dollars support. Because of this, information and local workshops are meant for members only.