Property owners to Dominion: Pipeline YES, eminent domain NO

Representatives of energy giant Dominion Resources were caught off guard this week by landowners outraged over the company’s threatened use of eminent domain in the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Bruce McKay, Senior Energy Policy Director of Dominion, struggled to explain the utility’s position to an increasingly skeptical audience during a panel at the Republican Party of Virginia Advance in Richmond Dec. 10.

Dominion thought they had the deck stacked in their favor.

They didn’t expect Virginia property owners directly affected by the dominion-pipeline-table-zpipeline to show up, advocating for their rights. The property owners’ message was simple: “Pipeline yes, eminent domain no.”

Led by Americans for Personal Property, Energy and Landowners (APPEAL), the grassroots coalition set up a table amidst the various Republican candidates, asking them to sign a petition to follow their ideals of limited government as well as energy independence. “We are in favor of the pipeline, but Dominion does not have to use eminent domain to take our land without just compensation,” said Jon Ansell. “You can either build it along existing easements, or give the property owners a small percentage of the proceeds like they do with fracking or gas extraction in Alaska. It’s simple.”

The property owners definitely stirred up a hornet’s nest that Dominion wasn’t expecting. Outside the panel room the property rights advocates clashed with event officials. They were forbidden from raising their signs opposing eminent domain. Henry Howell, an attorney representing the landowners, passionately argued about the importance of property rights to all Americans, especially for Republicans, and called out the hypocrisy of the aggression towards the property owners.

Multiple questions were submitted by attendees who voiced their concern about using eminent domain for the ACP. McKay was visibly flustered at the number of questions posed on the subject, then played dodgeball. He threw out confusing rules and facts to try to make it seem impossible to change the current pipeline plans.

Landowners weren’t buying it. After the panel, landowner Colin Winter confronted the Dominion representative, pleading with him to understand how much of an impact the pipeline was having on their way of life.

Even some of the public in attendance confronted Dominion after the panel. When faced with a large group of attendees advocating for greater compensation for the farmers and property owners, McKay was forced to admit it sounded like it could work.

Jon Ansell said APPEAL wasn’t letting up any time soon. “We’ll see if Dominion heeds the warnings and suggestions for all those in attendance here today. Until then, we’ll keep fighting for our rights and the rights of our neighbors.”

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About the Author: Adam Houser

Adam Houser coordinates student leaders for CFACT's collegians program.

  • This article today is a grand slam as this young man explains here!

    Oct 2, 2016 Standing Rock – Eminent Domain and Oil

    This is INFORMATION you flat-out need to know. The oil companies, the corporations, the greed – follow the money and you get the truth.

    https://youtu.be/MSlnLEemvfM

    • Grey Winters

      Its not even their property. Fact is they tried extortion so the project was relocated for less then the unrealistic amounts they demanded on reservation property. These are not representative of the tribes either, they are paid professional left wing agitators.

  • marshmil

    We have to respect property owners’ rights. However, when the common good outweighs someone’s bean patch or golf course location then the common good must take precedence. Property owners should be given fair market value plus a fair additional amount to cover relocation expenses. Another side of the issue is that if it can be shown that confiscation of property under the argument of imminent domain will lend special advantage to “special interests” rather than to the common good then investigations are in order to determine the “fairness” of any changes. Someone posted that oil through the pipeline being discussed will be exported rather than used in the USA. Whether or not exportation of oil can and will reduce petroleum costs in USA is an added issue and should be appropriately addressed. We absolutely should find ways to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

  • peterfalexander

    ADAM… WOW!
    As a Landscape Architect Planner Eminent Domain is a sub specialty I have developed in my practice.
    We are going to be working closely in the NEAR FUTURE! (EVE?)
    Santa is going to be extra good to you…he just emailed confirmation!

  • Scott Thorsen

    Arbitrage is the difference between “fair market value” with the threat of eminent domain and the actual value if an easement if acquired and sold to another pipeline company. Personally I think pipelines and transmission should be pay $45,000 to $50,000 an acre for an easement. At the least, corporations should be paying $4 times the market value for the highest priced farmland along the project. Right now there are too many proposed projects racing to be the first. Landowners are being hit left and right with proposed projects. The simplest way to eliminate the worst of the projects is to increase the cost of purchasing the easements. As a society, we have passed true need long ago. Projects are now for corporate profits.