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Pipeline Easements: Overview and Associated Costs

Pipeline Easement Issues

I want to break away from our series on eminent domain damages so that we can discuss pipeline easements, which have received a fair amount of attention recently.

If you are a property owner whose property is affected by a pipeline project, you are probably wondering how the project can be stopped.   Unfortunately, stopping a pipeline project through legal means is almost  impossible because pipeline companies typically have the power of eminent domain.  Depending upon the state you’re in, this power is either granted to them generally, or it’s spelled out through special provisions within their statutes.  A property owner would need to challenge the public use in order to stop the project through legal means, and this endeavor is very difficult and costly and is one that we don’t recommend.

Even if the project can not be stopped, you still have the right to pursue an eminent domain claim for just compensation.  However, there are serious issues that need to be considered before moving forward with this type of claim.  For example, if you are an individual residential property owner, the costs that you will incur to hire experts will be very expensive in comparison to the potential recovery that may be obtained by successfully pursuing this claim.  If you’re located in a state where attorney’s fees and costs can be recovered with regards to utility claims, then this will certainly be a factor weighing in favor of the property owner when considering whether to pursue a claim.  However, in states where costs and fees are not recoverable, the costs associated with hiring appraisers or other experts to establish damages may simply be too prohibitive to allow a single individual residential property owner to fully pursue a claim against a pipeline company for the damages they might be entitled to receive.

When deciding whether it is worthwhile to pursue a claim for just compensation in pipeline cases, you must consider the level of damages that you are  entitled to receive.  In our next blog, we will  discuss three categories of damages:  the cost of the land that is being acquired by way of easement, the loss of development potential, and the stigma with regards to the potential for explosion.

Learn more about recovering attorneys fees and costs in your state.

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