Williams has developed a draft agricultural construction and monitoring plan for the project, which documents the measures it would follow to minimize and mitigate effects on agricultural lands. In addition, Williams has proposed to provide an agricultural inspector who would be on-site to monitor construction activities within agricultural lands and would hire a subject matter expert to provide guidance to ensure these lands are restored to their original uses and crop yields. The draft agricultural construction and monitoring plan includes mitigation measures to minimize impacts on and/or meet the needs of specialty agricultural crop areas (i.e., orchards and tree farms), certified organic farms and no-till farms.
Yes. After construction of the pipeline, most uses of the surface of the land will be allowed, including farming activities such as crop production and raising livestock. Two notable exceptions include planting trees within the easement and placing a permanent structure within the easement, both of which are prohibited.
The existing Transco pipeline is used for transporting natural gas to market areas where it can be distributed by local gas utility companies or used as fuel in power generation facilities. Contact your local gas utility company to ask about natural gas service.
You may return to normal surface uses of the land with limited restrictions. However, any digging—even for fencing, vegetation or drainage—is prohibited without first contacting the local One-Call system (simply dial 811) or a Williams representative. No trees may be planted on the right of way. This is to (a) maintain a clear aerial surveillance of the right of way, and (b) prevent tree roots from damaging the pipeline coating. For more information on these restrictions, contact a Williams representative.
It is important to note that an easement does not transfer title of the land to Williams; it merely grants the right to use the land for the specific purposes stated in the easement agreement. After construction of the pipeline, most uses of the surface of the land—including farming activities such as crop production or raising livestock—will be permitted.
This is always a very sensitive issue and we assure you that it is not our desire or intent to obtain an easement from the landowner through the right of eminent domain—often referred to as “condemnation.” Do we have the right to condemn for an easement? Generally, once the FERC issues a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for a project, the company may—by virtue of the authority granted in the United States Natural Gas Act—seek authority from the court to obtain the limited rights necessary to construct, operate and maintain a pipeline. Contrary to the condemnation process that the landowner might experience for a highway, park or other public structure, your land would not be “taken” from you. The courts would merely grant the right for Williams to construct, operate and maintain the pipeline. The landowner would retain ownership and surface rights of the land—just as if an easement had been granted. The courts would determine fair market value, again based on the accepted appraisal practices discussed above.
In FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), issued in May 2016, the agency said:
“…We are not aware of landowners having problems obtaining mortgages for properties crossed by pipelines. A comment was filed supporting this view from a senior vice president of the Lancaster-based Fulton Bank. It states that, while the presence of a utility easement is always accounted for during the appraisal process, the presence of a pipeline is not taken into account when the final determination is made on whether to offer financing.”
In October 2014 FERC addressed the issue of the impact a pipeline could have on a property owner to obtain a mortgage. The FERC concluded: “Furthermore, based on our experience in reviewing natural gas pipelines across the United States, we have never documented an instance where a FERC-jurisdictional pipeline project has affected the ability of a prospective buyer to obtain a mortgage. We therefore find these claims to be unlikely.”
In 2016, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation (INGAA) published the results of a study entitled “Pipeline Impact to Property Value and Property Insurability.” The goal of the study was to determine the effects of natural gas pipelines on real estate values, insurability and the ability to obtain a mortgage. The study included data from both rural and suburban areas. The study demonstrated that the presence of a natural gas pipeline had no effect on obtaining a mortgage.
The FERC addressed this issue in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), issued in May 2016. It stated: “…we do not anticipate that the Project would adversely affect homeowners’ insurance rates, the ability to acquire a new homeowner’s insurance policy, or that insurance policies would be discontinued due to the presence of a natural gas pipeline on a property.”
Williams operates 15,000 miles of transmission pipeline across the country. It has been our experience that insurance underwriters have not considered the presence of a transmission pipeline when determining the cost and coverage of property insurance. In fact, insurance advisers consulted on other natural gas projects reviewed by FERC have indicated that pipeline infrastructure does not affect homeowners insurance rates.
In 2016, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation (INGAA) published the results of a study entitled “Pipeline Impact to Property Value and Property Insurability.” The goal of the study was to determine the effects of natural gas pipelines on real estate values, insurability and the ability to obtain a mortgage. The study included data from both rural and suburban areas. Insurance companies and agents interviewed said there was no indication that the presence of a natural gas pipeline would hinder a buyer’s ability to acquire property insurance. They also said there was no indication that premiums paid for insurance policies would increase because of the proximity of a natural gas pipeline.
Historically speaking, natural gas pipeline easements have had little or no impact on property values.
In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, issued in May 2016, FERC cited multiple studies which support the position that the presence of a natural gas pipeline has little or no impact on property values.
One of those was a 2016 study by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation (INGAA) entitled “Pipeline Impact to Property Value and Property Insurability.” The goal of the study was to determine the effects of natural gas pipelines on real estate values, insurability and the ability to obtain a mortgage. The study included data from both rural and suburban areas. The ultimate finding of the study was that there is no measurable impact on the sales price of properties located along or in proximity to a natural gas pipeline versus properties which are not located along or in proximity to the same pipeline.
In addition, the January/February 2011 edition of the International Right of Way Association (IRWA) publication, Right of Way, includes a study entitled “The Effect of Natural Gas Pipelines on Residential Value.” The results of this particular study, which used methodologies similar to those used in the INGAA study, showed that the researchers could “…not identify a systematic relationship between proximity to the pipeline and sale price or value.
The valuation of the easement will be determined by the market value of land in the area as determined by independent sources. These sources can be county deed and tax records, local appraisers, real estate brokers and other real estate professionals. Factors considered generally include length, width, existing land use and comparable land sales in the area. Impact to the remaining property may also be considered. This information will be shared with the landowner and fair compensation will be offered. We encourage the landowner to provide any other relevant information that may be considered in establishing a fair market value. In addition to the value of the easement, the landowner will be compensated for any actual damages to their property during construction. Such damages may include loss of crop, timber, pasture, or landscape features (or landscape use). Settlement of damages may occur before or after pipeline construction. Damage to fences, gates, roads, drainages, etc., will be repaired prior to the contractor leaving the site. The landowner will be asked to acknowledge completion of and satisfaction with the restoration activities.