The good folks at the Constitution Pipeline (yet another catchy Tea Party name !) are sending out threatening letters via FEDEX to landowners along the planned Right of Way (ROW) threatening them with “eminent domain”, ie. condemnation. Telling them they must sell out by this Wednesday. Or else. Kind of a Christmas surprise present to Upstate New York from the frackers. Key section of letter shown below.
Catch is that the Constitution Pipeline doesn’t have the power of eminent domain – yet. So threatening property owners with condemnation is fraudulent. Kind of a new “fracking psy-ops” trick. Nor does Constitution have the right to trespass on your property. They just made that bit up. The letter was signed by one of Constitution’s lawyers, not by some sleazy landman. And the lawyer, Elizabeth U. Witmer, is not licensed to practice law in New York. So Ms Witmer probably just committed a felony. And fraud.
The good news – any landowner that is coerced into signing based on that letter would be doing so under duress – and fraud. Not clever by half.
Constitution sent these threatening letters as if condemnation is something a landowner does not want. When it is exactly what the landowner should want: force the gasholes to condemn the property, since that is the most expensive way for the pipeline company to get ROW. The corollary of which is that forcing a condemnation is how the landowner gets the most money for their land.
Once your property is in their ROW, the goal of their landmen is to buy you out as cheaply as possible (watch Promised Land). Which means that your goal, as a landowner is make them pay dearly for your land. Or force them to go somewhere else. Like hades. Or drop dead (financially speaking) when the acquisition cost of the pipeline ROW goes too high.
The power of eminent domain conferred on a public company does not give government agents from FERC or the DEC or anyone else the right to trespass onto your land. It does not give survey crews access. You are entitled to lock them out. It’s your property. Tea Party 101. Lock them out. Today.
How do savvy landowners respond to such threats ?
1. Lock the gate. Do not allow any FERC inspectors, DEC inspectors, survey crews, seismic crews, soil testers, the NSA, landmen or trucks with Texas plates onto your property. Watch out for helicopters dropping survey supplies. (I’m not kidding). All of that constitutes trespass without your permission. If your property is next to the proposed ROW, do yourself and your neighbors a favor and lock your gate too. Deny access to anyone connected to the proposed pipeline -including the Gastapo, corrupt law enforcement officers moonlighting for frackers.
Keep any demand letters or offers they’ve sent you. Don’t talk to them until you talk to a lawyer. If you catch them on your property, be courteous, be clear, video your conversation. Some tactfully appropriate responses to their overtures are:
“Frack you and the Hummer you rode in on.”
“Get the frack off of my lawn/ front porch/ foot.”
“Get thee back to Oklahoma, gashole.”
2. Call a lawyer. Contact the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic and ask for Princess Chain Saw, ie. Anne Marie Garti at 718 601-9618 Tell her that a secret admirer referred you. She’s up on all this stuff and the price is right.
3. Don’t sell out cheap. Force the frackers to condemn your property. You read that right. Read up on why forcing a condemnation is probably your best option. They threaten landowners with condemnation because that is the most expensive way for them to acquire ROW. Take advice from a real estate professional. Get an appraisal. But steer them into a condemnation hearing.
Orchestrate your situation to make it Mission Improbable for them to cut a 60′ wide scar across your land. And if they finally succeed in taking your land, make the frackers pay very dearly for ever foot of it.
In short, if they want your land, dare them to COME AND TRY TO FRACKING TAKE IT
More info here on what you can do to block the “Let’s Get America’s Gas Reserves to Brazil As Fast As Possible” fracking charade. Tell your neighbors. Get organized. Don’t get steam-rolled by some gasholes from a fracking cess-pool like Houston.
From The Dory:
The arrival of the premature FEDEXed letter probably sent many people into Panic Mode, and scrambling to sign easement agreements.
If you received such a FEDEXed letter or know of someone who did – DON’T PANIC.
Contact Stop the Pipeline at stopthepipeline.org for more information.
PACE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
78 NORTH BROADWAY WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK 10603