As multiple pipeline projects move to construction phase throughout the state, they haven’t come without some headaches for farmers.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has seen a growing number of farmer concerns with regard to drainage activities and soil remediation as part of the ET Rover pipeline project. While Rover’s FERC-approved Ag Mitigation Plan and easement language allows the company to dispose of standing water into adjacent tracts of land off the designated right of way, they must compensate impacted landowners for damages.
Farm Bureau laid the groundwork for such agreements. As early as summer 2015, OFBF staff started meeting with ET Rover officials as they looked to lay pipeline on a northwest diagonal from Monroe County to Fulton County. In those meetings, Farm Bureau stressed the importance of mitigating impacts to farmland and conducting adequate land remediation as part of the company’s pipeline development project.
Farm Bureau organized landowners to testify at FERC hearings and conducted more than 100 pipeline briefings along the project route since early 2015 to educate landowners on pipeline regulations and how to obtain qualified legal counsel.
Be sure to reference your easement agreement with the pipeline company to familiarize yourself with practices that are allowed and those that are not – before, during and after construction. When faced with potential damage to land or pipeline construction that does not comply with your lease agreement, there are some specific steps landowners can take to address concerns:
As construction continues, farmers should inspect their land holdings regularly and document what is taking place through notes and photos.
Most on-site construction companies and their personnel are subcontractors and do not always have the authority to address the issue. Two hotlines have been established for landowners to contact to address pipeline issues:
- In the case of the ET Rover project, the company has established a hotline to field complaints: 888-844-3718.
- If the landowner determines that additional assistance is required, the FERC Landowner Helpline can address issues for any pipeline project under its jurisdiction and can be reached toll free at 877-337-2237 or by email at [email protected].
Retain Legal Counsel
It’s always best to consult legal counsel before signing any agreements to ensure the full extent of your concerns are addressed and adequately compensated. It’s equally important to obtain legal advice when considering a remedy or compensation for damages.
Farm Bureau continues to work with regulators and landowners to ensure issues that arise are addressed quickly and adequately. In the coming weeks, more local meetings will be held to update landowners on the progress of several pipeline projects and identify ongoing concerns.