Eminent Domain, Condemnation, Appropriation and Takings: A Company Is Cramming a Pipeline that I Don’t Want Down my Throat

Written by about Ownership and Transfers + Pipelines on May 27, 2014

The above terms are frequently misused by both landowners and industry insiders. While their specific meanings are often misunderstood, the situation presented is usually as follows: “a pipeline company is trying to force me to have a pipeline that I don’t want.”

This issue is generally covered by the umbrella term of “eminent domain.” Eminent domain is the government’s power to take your property. The government derives their ability to take your property from the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In lay terms this means that if the government pays you appropriately, they may take your property for public use. The government routinely takes property from landowners to construct or widen roads and install public utilities (electric lines, pipelines, phone lines, etc.).

Every eminent domain case, therefore, involves two critical questions: first, who is doing the taking; and second, is the taking truly for public use. These issues can become particularly murky with respect to pipeline law. Pipelines are installed privately, on behalf of drillers, producers, midstream corporations, and individuals. Pipelines are also installed publicly on behalf of public utilities, cities, townships, other municipalities and agencies. Therefore, if the pipeline is being installed by a governmental entity for the benefit of the public, there might not be anything you can do to prevent the installation.

An experienced pipeline attorney will be able to navigate the system for you, determining whether or not the pipeline can really be forced upon you. Even if it can, it is definitely worthwhile to have an attorney advocate for your interest and secure you the best compensation possible.

About Molly Phillips

MOLLY PHILLIPS earned her law degree from University of Akron School of Law. Her primary practice consists of reviewing oil and gas related contracts. Molly also litigates oil and gas law cases. Past litigation topics include dormant minerals law and lease breaking.