Cross posted from Pruning Shears.
Thanks to rjs for the help in researching this post.
Last week I linked to this article detailing how the relative lack of pipelines in Ohio is preventing fracking from taking off as the extraction industry would like. This means pipelines have moved front and center in some communities. Since the fastest way to assemble the land for one is to pressure citizens to sell under threat of seizure via eminent domain (ED), ED law is starting to get a much closer look.
The short version is that ED can be used for oil but not liquefied natural gas, meaning yes for traditional drilling but no for fracking. Companies have taken note of the distinction:
the eminent domain statute says only companies that ship ‘natural or artificial gas, petroleum, coal or its derivatives, water, or electricity’ through pipelines have a right force Ohioans to sell easements on their land. The eminent domain law doesn’t mention natural gas liquids.
To get around that, the company uses a different definition for the ATEX in court cases where it is citing eminent domain power, calling it a “petroleum product derived from natural gas extraction process.”
So here’s the conundrum for the fracking companies: they want to use the threat of ED to pressure homeowners into giving up their land, but they can’t invoke ED for the purpose the pipelines are being constructed for (until they can once again fix the law to their liking, that is).
The workaround appears to be this: Build the pipeline ostensibly for oil but leave wiggle room to change that later. Of course, an oil pipeline is troubling enough. Sunoco has demonstrated over and over and over again that its Ohio pipelines are leaky. Looking strictly at their track record around here, there is little reason for Portage County residents to feel confident in the soundness of this new pipeline.
As problematic as an oil-only pipeline would be (why here and now, incidentally? Have vast new petroleum reserves been discovered in eastern Ohio?), it appears Sunoco is at least leaving the door open for alternate uses: