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Preventing Pipelines On Private Property

Construction of a pipeline.

Networks of gas pipelines funnel gas from wellheads to homes and businesses.

Reinhard Tiburzy / Shutterstock

What's at Stake

Landowners could have been forced to let gas gathering pipelines run across their property, without any environmental review, but Earthjustice helped a landowner fight back, and the pipeline company ultimately gave up its unprecedented attempt to acquire the power to seize private land.


The northeast United States has been bracing for all out industrialization since the discovery of large gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale. Fracking activities are rising rampantly and a crisscross network of gas pipelines is spreading across the landscape to funnel gas from wellheads to homes and businesses.

Industry is eager to exploit its opportunities without obstruction. But in Pennsylvania, building gathering pipelines isn’t easy—unless companies can pay landowners enough to let pipelines run across their property.

The Laser Northeast Gathering Company applied for a Certificate of Public Convenience, which if approved would have granted the company eminent domain powers and the capacity to force landowners to sell rights-of-way for pipelines across their properties, without any environmental review. Earthjustice entered into a proposed settlement to ensure that Laser wasn’t allowed to seize land to support pipeline construction, without also agreeing to substantial protections for landowners and the environment.

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