LAPORTE, Pa. (AP) — When federal regulators approved a 39-mile natural gas pipeline through northern Pennsylvania’s pristine Endless Mountains, they cited the operator’s assurances that it would make sparing use of eminent domain as it negotiated with more than 150 property owners along the pipeline’s route.
Yet a few days after winning approval for its $250 million MARC 1 pipeline in the heart of the giant Marcellus Shale gas field, the company began condemnation proceedings against nearly half of the landowners — undercutting part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval rationale and angering landowners.
Some of the landowners are now fighting the company in court, complaining that Central New York Oil and Gas Company LLC steamrolled them by refusing to negotiate in good faith on monetary compensation and the pipeline’s location. Their attorneys say CNYOG has skirted Pennsylvania’s eminent domain rules.
The company, a subsidiary of Inergy LP of Kansas City, Mo., insists it’s trying to reach a “fair settlement” with all property owners and wants to be a good neighbor.
The dispute could foreshadow eminent domain battles to come as more pipelines are approved and built to carry shale gas to market in states like Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.