Preventing Pipelines On Private Property

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.


Regional Office / Program

Case Overview

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.

Construction of a pipeline.
Networks of gas pipelines funnel gas from wellheads to homes and businesses. (Reinhard Tiburzy / Shutterstock)

Case Updates

May 19, 2011 Press Release

PA Gas Pipeline Decision Reversed, Project Heads Back For More Hearings, Study

Environment and public health advocates call it a win for the public

January 5, 2011 Press Release

Judge Says Gas Pipeline Firm Should Not be Granted Public Utility Status, Power to Seize Land

Property owners along 24-mile pipeline may be spared eminent domain fight