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Posted August 3, 2012 | comments 17 Comments

Columbia Gas sues to lay pipe to Dominion plant

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

Columbia Gas seeks to condemn land for a pipeline to the Dominion power plant currently under construction in Warren County.

The natural gas provider claims talks with the owners of more than six acres sought for easements fell through.

The gas company filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg on Friday against Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Cedarville LLC, E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., and "unknown persons and interested parties," collectively identified as landowners. Richmond attorney Travis A. Sabalewski filed the complaint on behalf of Columbia Gas Transmission LLC, its parent companies identified as Columbia Energy Group and NiSource Inc.

The complaint identifies Warrenton-based Cedarville, E.I. Du Pont, and the electric cooperative, as well as the easements, as defendants. Summons were issued to the defendants Friday.

Documents filed with the lawsuit indicate Columbia Gas seeks an easement of 2.83 acres of property owned by Cedarville for the permanent right-of-way; 2.72 acres from E.I. Du Pont; and 0.77 acres from the electric cooperative. Maps show land sought for the easements lies along U.S. 340-522 (Winchester Road) and crosses Va. 658 (Rockland Road), and would cross a future connector to Va. 658.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Columbia Gas to build and operate 2.47 miles of 24-inch diameter, lateral pipeline and related facilities to enable the utility to transport natural gas for Virginia Power Services Energy Corp. Inc. to a new power generation facility under construction in Warren County, according to the complaint filed in the court.

"FERC determined that the Project is in the public interest and issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity," the complaint states. "Condemnation is necessary because Columbia has been unable to negotiate with the Landowners mutually agreeable terms for easements necessary on the Properties."

Columbia filed the complaint pursuant to the Natural Gas Act under which the company has a duty to provide service to its customers, according to the complaint. Columbia is authorized to build, operate and maintain the proposed pipeline pursuant to the certificate issued by FERC, the complaint states.

FERC approved Columbia's application for the certificate by order dated March 20, according to the complaint. Under the federal act Columbia Gas has the right to condemn the easements across the properties at issue in order to build the pipeline, the complaint states.

Drawings filed with the lawsuit illustrate the easements sought by utility. The drawings show the location of the proposed pipeline in relation to the properties and the extent of permanent easements, access roads, temporary staging and workspace areas where applicable.

Columbia plans to bury the pipeline, with the exception of risers, valves, drips, hydrate removal systems and other related facilities, "so as not to interfere with the cultivation of the land," according to the complaint. Landowners may use the properties to the extent this doesn't interfere with or obstruct Columbia's rights described in the complaint. Such prohibited use of the easement by landowners would include placing any temporary or permanent structure or obstruction of any kind, such as buildings, swimming pools, sheds, sidewalks, mobile homes, trees, poles or wires, water or sewer lines and roads.

17 Comments | Leave a comment

    This is a new form of Agenda 21. This is just another way to steal property from the owners.
    Dont pay the value just condem it. Obama strikes again!

      Obama strikes again? Please elaborate.

      What a foolish thing to say. No wonder this country is gripped in gridlock. Stop contributing to the countr's problems. On the other hand, if you were to really understand the issue, to include the responsible parties in imminent domain cases you could post a well reasoned suggestion that night just be informed....

      Agenda 21 began with GEORGE H.W. BUSH!

      It is continually amazing the level of ignorance people can come up with on what to blame Obama for. Here we are worried about voter fraud, when we should be more concerned about a civics test for voting eligibility. As long as we continue to have such a high population of people intentionally staying ignorant of reality and being just plain too lazy to bother to do a little research America will continue to crumble.

    Why don't they just run the pipes along the roads to the plant? It might cost more initially, but there will be less legal hassle (and expense) and would provide easier access when repairs are needed. Then the private property rights of the landowners won't be perverted for the profit of the greedy gas company.

      They don't run along populated roads because pipelines tend to blow up once in a while. That's why they permit no structures anywhere near the line.

      There is indeed a long-term agenda here: large enterprises that have lobbyists and lawyers anywhere -- all of whom donate generously to local as well as national campaigns -- tend to be allowed to run over the individual citizen, for whose benefit, protection, and liberty the Constitution was originally designed.

      Calling citizens names just because they blame an "agenda" is cowardly. Confront the fact: a company that stands to make millions on this deal has taken a steamroller to federal court to impale our neighborhood and neighbors. Sure it's "legal," because they have lawyers and lobbyists in DC too.

      Do you? If you don't, they will roll you every time. For my part, even though we're not affected, I stand with the little guy who's getting steamrolled by the big-business, big-government complex.

        Calling citizens names? Where was the name calling? There was a mention of crazy... as in, it's crazy to blame Obama for this when Agenda 21 was created in 1992... or that it's crazy to blame Agenda 21 for this when easement issues have always been around, and has nothing to do with it...

        Yeah, both of those are pretty crazy.

        But you're here to protect little guy DuPont from the big scary gas company. Thank you for all that you do.

    More Agenda 21 nonsense? Why is it the Tea Party attracts more than its fair share of crazy people? When it comes right down to it, I don't remember ever seeing grown-ups behave less seriously.

    Tea Party membership comes from a long and boring tradition of anti-incumbency and anti-Washington rhetoric, insulting to anyone with anything of a political memory. Since when is it truly insurgent to rail against the state of affairs in the nation's capital? Since when do commercial activities happening in backwater Warren County rise to becoming entangled with the United Nations?

    These are the concoctions coming from dark, gloomy minds that place great faith in the fantasies of Tin Foil Hat Glen Beck.


    How did they ever get an approval to build the plant in the first place? Columbia Gas knew they needed access land before the original plans were ever submitted and should have had the right-of-ways established at that time. This is to obvious or am I missing something here?

      It sounds like they did that... they were working to come up with a negotiation for DuPont and REC... but they haven't been able to agree, that's why Columbia is now suing. Generally they don't just take the land first, but since the parties can't come to an agreement that's the route it's going now.

    That was my point Snakepitter01. They just don't take the land as an afterthought. When the goverment approved the plans for the plant in the beginning, they knew the route of the gas line and the probability of purchasing the land. DuPont also knew they were comming through their land and I am sure they let them know there situation. It just seem to be a late date for this land deal to be settled considering how long this has been in the making. Something stinks to high heaven here and it happens to be on the political side of the scale. It appears the plant approval was the main concern and the pipeline was secondary. I guess, once they figured the plant is under construction there is no way to turn back the clock. That way the gas company will get the right-of-way regardless.

    we need the taxes!

    They don't steal your land. The pay you fair market value for an easement, install a gasline underground, and you keep the land. In many cases the gas company will install a free farm tap if you want to convert your home to affordable, clean natural gas.

    Excerpts from state Sen. Mark Obenshain's report on the Virginia Property Rights Amendment that will be on the ballot this fall:

    After the Supreme Court decided the infamous Kelo case in 2005, the state legislature passed statutory changes to protect property rights in Virginia. But statutes don't have the permanence of a constitutional amendment, and something as important as property rights belongs in the Constitution of Virginia. The Virginia Property Rights Amendment will go before the voters this November.

    The Property Rights Amendment will secure property rights against the whims of state and local governments, ensuring that private property can only be taken for legitimate public uses -- not for shopping centers or transfer to another private property owner in the name of economic development. And it will guarantee that when the government does take property, it actually provides "just compensation," taking into account lost profits and loss access.

    It's just plain wrong for government to tell property owners that they are going to take their property and then transfer it to someone else who they believe has a "better" way to use it. If I want to continue to farm my property, my county shouldn't be able to take it and convey it to a shopping center developer just because that will generate more tax revenue. The Property Rights Amendment will stop these practices, but it will not prevent the taking or condemnation of property for real public uses like schools and roads.

    We are one step closer to enshrining the Virginia Property Rights Amendment in our constitution. On Election Day, each of us will have the opportunity to cast our vote to ratify the amendment!

    Agenda 21 is the blueprint. Implementation will be done by willing governments and allies in the green movement. Consider the following:

    In Brian Sussman’s recently published book, Eco-Tyranny, he reports that he became aware of a secret draft document procured by the Obama Department of the Interior detailing a twenty-five year plan to provide corridors and connectivity to enormous swaths of land. The document specifically denotes 140 million acres of land, administered by the Bureau of Land Management that the government considers ‘treasured.’ According to the discussion paper, ‘these landscapes captured the pioneer spirit and cultivated America’s romantic ideals of the wild west.’ A closer read reveals these 140 million acres (collectively about the size of Colorado or Wyoming) are not just in the West, but scattered across the country and composed of various-sized parcels, often surrounded by private property. The discussion paper addresses plans to purchase whenever possible, or take over whenever necessary, all of the land in between the government-owned parcels. Sussman adds, “The internal draft actually implies that we humans will not be welcome in the wished-for federal land. Treasured landscapes will exist without the trappings of visitor centers and other man-made improvements.” Brian Sussman, Eco-Tyranny, (Washington, DC, WND Books, 2012), 214-217

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