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  • moneyonomics moneyonomics Aug 4, 2013 7:13 PM Flag

    Sunoco Files Eminent Domain Claim for Mariner East for 1/2 mile section into Deleware

    "...Several property owners could lose land from a pipeline company's use of eminent domain - all because of William Penn and the Duke of York.

    Sunoco Logistics Partners LP has notified landowners in several communities that it will try to take land for a pipeline running from Washington County to an export terminal near Philadelphia.

    Its partners, primarily Range Resources Corp., plan to export half of the natural gas to Europe. Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics filed its first eminent domain claim in Westmoreland County this month - an attempt to compel landowners to allow a pipeline easement on their property in return for a fair-market payment.

    The oddly drawn border by Penn and the duke puts a small part of Sunoco Logistics' gas terminal in Delaware. After snaking for nearly 300 miles within Pennsylvania, the last half-mile of the pipeline edges into Delaware.

    That half-mile is key, experts said, because any inch of a pipeline that crosses a state border qualifies as interstate commerce, giving Sunoco the power to take land for the project, even if it's designed to ship gas overseas.

    "That is very convenient," said Amanda M. Olejarski, a Shippensburg University professor who released a book about eminent domain in March. "They're really kind of massaging and taking advantage of all the advantages the law provides them."

    Sunoco Logistics spokesman Joe McGinn said the company works with landowners "to negotiate and acquire easements without utilizing legal avenues," and has offered and paid "above-market appraisal value for the property...."

    "...The pipeline's more rural route follows alongside two Dominion Resources Inc. gas transmission lines. Yet several residents are fighting that plan, claiming their property was not restored from the previous work and that Sunoco Logistics has not guaranteed it would work any better....If Sunoco Logistics succeeds with its eminent domain plan, other companies could try the same, said Olejarski at Shippensburg...."

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    • The real "accident " here is that the existing Pipeline built a long time ago before it became designated Mariner East enters the. 800 acre Marcus Hook site from its' south, Delaware side. This is because of topography and that Chester,PA, now home to the Philadelphia Union soccer stadium nestles up to the north side of the site. Going west along the Delaware/PA line the land was and still is rather rural thanks to numerous estates owned by wealthy Philadelphia and DuPont families. That the Pipeline happened to be interstate because of this was used obviously by SXL to put Federal eminent domain law into play.

    • "...Some people think the company is using eminent domain to bully its way through, without answering questions or negotiating.

      "I've asked them several questions, and they haven't answered a one. ... They come in and expect you to blindly sign their contracts," said William A. Mossor Jr., 49, of Sewickley in Westmoreland County. "They're definitely abusing eminent domain. ... It should be used as a last resort."

      Range Resources wants the project to be acceptable to locals and has had some success in mediating these disputes, especially in Washington County, where it has drilling deals with landowners, spokesman Matt Pitzarella said. Sunoco Logistics did not initially accept that help, he added.

      "While this pipeline is important to the economic growth of the region, Range is concerned with the apparent heavy-handed approach," he said. "We're not Sunoco, so there's only so far we can go...."

      ...Sunoco Logistics asked Common Pleas Judge Richard E. McCormick in a July 12 filing to grant its workers permission to enter the Mossor property to conduct surveying. Mossor made several demands in order to grant access, with which the company is not required to comply under Pennsylvania's eminent domain code, the company claimed.

      Mossor negotiated more amicably with Dominion, he said, in part because federal rules guided that project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives broad eminent domain powers for natural gas lines but requires public meetings. FERC intervenes to manage the placement of gas lines from the start of the process - but not oil lines.

      The agency considers ethane and propane lines as oil lines, spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said. It regulates the prices set on oil lines that cross state borders after they're completed.

      That's enough to be considered a federally regulated utility under Pennsylvania law, which grants such projects an exemption to use eminent domain for private business, experts said...."