December 5, 2014
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities
Constitution Pipeline, emboldened by this week’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision to issue a conditional approval of the proposed pipeline through rural New York State, has ramped up its bullying of landowners. Constitution has begun sending letters to landowners in Delaware and Schoharie counties, via FedEx, that threatened to seize their land through eminent domain unless they sign easement agreements. The letters include language which infers that Constitution has the right to enter private property within 10 days “for the purpose of making surveys, test pits, bore holes or other investigations.” The letters include, as part of the threat, a reference to a New York eminent domain statute that may not be applicable.
The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities reminds landowners and communities impacted by the proposed pipeline that the FERC defined a list of conditions which must be met by Constitution before they can construct the pipeline. Constitution must also initiate and pursue eminent domain actions through the courts before it can attempt to seize or enter anyone’s private property. As to the dubious claim by Constitution that they have legal authority to begin activity on private property, the Center strongly urges landowners so threatened to seek legal counsel.
The Center is working closely with other organizations and will have additional information regarding Constitution’s claims as soon as it becomes available.
Landowners resisting the unnecessary and destructive pipeline proposal should remain steadfast in their resistance and understand that the fight is far from over. Those of us working to protect our region from this project are not intimidated by the bluster and bullying of Constitution Pipeline or its representatives.
The Center has filed a complaint with New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman asking for an investigation of the letters sent to landowners. The complaint states, in part, that the letters “contain ominous language intended to intimidate landowners into capitulating to the pipeline company’s demands. That language includes arbitrary deadlines and citations of legal statutes that may not be relevant to the pipeline, and for which recipients of the letters, many of whom are low income and/or elderly, may not have the resources to validate or challenge. “
The above represents the opinion of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities and is provided for informational purposes only. No part of this statement is offered. nor should it be considered, as legal advice.