Copy/paste articles about the eminent domain proceedings with regard to the Constitution Pipeline have appeared in “mainstream media”. I call them copy/paste articles because they originate from skimpy coverage by the Associated Press (AP) with no reporter cited.
- Pennsylvania-New York gas pipeline developer threatens to seize land through eminent domain, | by Associated Press | December 07, 2014,
- -New York pipeline developer threatens to seize land | By The Associated Press | Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014
- Shale gas pipeline developer threatens to seize land | By The Associated Press | 12/07/2014
See: Constitution Gas Pipeline Threatens Landowners With Condemnation | by Chip Northrup on December 5, 2014 for what reporting should look like. The power of eminent domain does not allow the pipeline company to trespass on private property. And Williams does not yet have the power of eminent domain.
The AP article fails to mention the FERC approval for the Constitution Pipeline was CONDITIONAL APPROVAL. There are things that must be done by Williams prior to the final approval, these conditions also mean the FEDEXing of letters threatening property owners with eminent domain was premature.
Given William’s long history and experience of constructing interstate pipelines, they should know this.
SPECIALIZING IN EMINENT DOMAIN
In September 2013, at the Shale Insight convention in Philadelphia, sponsored by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Elizabeth Witmer of the Saul Ewing law Firm moderated a presentation on “Timely Pipeline Permitting: Getting the Gas to Market More Quickly. “
Witmer’s credentials include 20 years experience and
being lead counsel in more than 70 condemnation suits (eminent domain) filed in Pennsylvania in connection with interstate pipeline projects.
Saul Ewing firm is clearly not an outfit with a handmade shingle dangling from a doorknob; they have attorneys with experience in these matters. Therefore you would expect Saul Ewing to also know the FEDEXing of eminent domain threats is also premature.
So why were the letters sent prematurely? Will it be blamed on an over eager mail handler at the Saul Ewing firm? Or was it done to frighten people, get them to sign easement contracts and avoid costly proceedings when the proper time for the eminent domain process could actually begin?
For a response to the Elizabeth Witmer at Saul Ewing premature FEDEXed letters see: Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, Inc December 5, 2014 letter to Saul Ewing.
The Pace letter urges Saul Ewing to retract the premature FEDEXed letter:
Please be advised that your misrepresentations of the facts and law to recipient landowners may violate the New York Rules of Professional Conduct. In particular, Rule 8.4, states that a “lawyer or law firm shall not: (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”
We urge you to immediately retract the Saul Ewing Letter, also by use of Federal Express. We further urge CP [Consitution Pipeline] to cease and desist from any additional misleading attempts to bully and intimidate New York citizens and landowners into giving up land that rightfully belongs to them. There is an express and specific legal process that must be utilized in order for CP to exercise eminent domain authority, if any, and we respectfully urge CP to utilize this process without resorting to the kinds of unethical and unconscionable tactics to which we have objected in this letter.
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
© 2014 by Dory Hippauf