Pennsylvania Eminent Domain Controversy

01.31.12 | Sarah Harnisch, Jeremy Miller

pipeline

75 homeowners in Northern Pennsylvania are suing a New York gas company that's trying to take their homes. When federal regulators approved a 39-mile gas pipeline through Northern Pennsylvania's pristine Endless Mountains, they gave assurances that they would make sparing use of eminent domain. However, just days after winning approval, the company began comdemnation proceedings against 74 property owners along the pipeline's route through the mountains of Bradford, Lycoming and Sullivan Counties, affecting half of the people who live along the route. Some of the landowners are now fighting the Central New York Oil and Gas Company in court, saying the company steamrolled them by refusing to negotiate in good faith and accusing company officials of skirting Pennsylvania's eminent domain rules. The company says it's trying to reach a fair settlement with all of the property owners, but the homeowners say they are offering just $310,000 for parts or all of the 37 different properties. The dispute could foreshadow eminent domain battles to come as more pipelines are approved.