HALT summarizes Homeowners’ two separate but interrelated legal actions:
(1) HALT’s action to Challenge the FERC Certificate and
(2) Individual homeowners’ action to Contest Eminent Domain.
HALT ACTION – CHALLENGING THE FERC CERTIFICATE
When FERC issues a certificate of public convenience and necessity to PennEast, HALT expects to challenge the validity of the certificate in a US Circuit Court of Appeals. While the exact nature of this lawsuit cannot be revealed now, what is important for homeowners to know is if PennEast is not built, HALT expects to ask that court-ordered easements be removed for landowners who have had their land taken through eminent domain proceedings.
HALT is asking impacted homeowners to become members of HALT since they will benefit from this litigation against FERC. If you are unsure as to your membership status or you are interested in becoming a HALT member by donating, please contact 609-483-5530. Your donation will go toward this litigation.
INDIVIDUAL HOMEOWNERS’ LEGAL ACTION – CONTESTING EMINENT DOMAIN
PennEast will gain the right of eminent domain to acquire easements on properties along the route after obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC. Some landowners are forming groups to contest PennEast’s right to take their land. This is something that only impacted landowners may pursue. HALT cannot do this for homeowners because it’s an issue of individual land being taken. This is a separate and different legal action than having individual legal representation in eminent domain court.
Several homeowners have formed into groups to make the cost of this litigation affordable. HALT cannot recommend attorneys, but as we become aware of the groups that are being formed, we will make that information available to our members. You can then meet and decide whether you wish to join them.
CONNECTION BETWEEN HALT CHALLENGING FERC’s CERTIFICATE & HOMEOWNERS CONTESTING PENNEAST’S EMINENT DOMAIN CASES
Although separate, the above two actions are interrelated. If PennEast is not built, HALT intends to ask that court-ordered easements be removed for landowners who have their land taken through eminent domain proceedings. In addition, landowners expect to contest PennEast’s right to take their land. Some landowners believe that the combination of these two actions will increase the likelihood of success.
SELLING EASEMENTS TO PENNEAST OUTSIDE OF COURT
If you choose to sell your easement to PennEast, instead of going through eminent domain proceedings, you may receive more than going through eminent domain. However, selling also means that PennEast owns the easement and can use it or sell it for other pipelines. We suggest you speak with real estate professionals to understand the immediate and longer-term impact of a natural gas pipeline easement on your property value. Selling also allows surveyors on your property sooner than if you go through eminent domain.
The news that we’ve all expected and yet hoped would be put off for as long as possible has occurred – FERC has two new Commissioners. In actuality, it happened later than most initially thought!