On September 30, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Jordan Cove Energy and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline Project. The FEIS is the culmination of years of study and debate regarding this massive LNG project, and sets the stage for FERC issuing a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (Certificate). FERC’s issuance of the Certificate will allow the Project, consistent with the federal Natural Gas Act and Oregon law, to exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire right of way for the pipeline.
If constructed, the Pacific Connector pipeline will consist of approximately 232 miles of 36-inch pipeline from Coos Bay to Malin. It will cross four counties–Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos–and will impact approximately 306 landowners and 436 parcels. Its estimated $1.5 billion price tag will constitute about 20% of the overall $7.5 billion Project.
For the most part, and if authorized, the Project will take right of way in the form of easements. These easements will consist primarily of permanent easements for the pipeline itself and temporary easements for construction activities. The easements will allow the pipeline company to construct, maintain, access, repair, and replace the pipeline. The easements will also prevent property owners from using their property in any way that would interfere with the pipeline operations.
The Project will try to first acquire these easements by “agreement.” Through a right of way agent, the Project will present property owners a modest offer of compensation and a form of easement agreement. Not surprisingly, the form of the agreement will strongly favor the pipeline company to the detriment of property owners, and the offer of “compensation” will be lacking in fundamental ways. If the Project cannot reach “agreement” with a property owner, it will then invoke its power of eminent domain, as delegated to it by the government, and take the easements on the terms it offered, with “just compensation” to be determined by judge or jury.
Given the fundamental impacts these easements and the pipeline itself will have on the value of property and quality of life, property owners would be remiss if they did not take these issues very seriously.