Oil & Gas Eminent Domain Attorneys
Protecting the Rights of Property Owners
Over the years, the demand for oil production in the United States has increased tremendously. The number of pipelines necessary to carry oil and natural gas has resulted in a growing number of land acquisitions. Oil and gas companies often pursue easements from landowners for these projects, resulting in eminent domain or condemnation cases.
Landowners are typically blindsided by the impacts of eminent domain and are often forced to uproot their lives or give up portions of their land. Anyone faced with the possibility of condemnation is highly encouraged to consult with an attorney. The eminent domain oil and gas attorneys at Potts Law Firm are knowledgeable and can defend your rights in these matters. The sooner you reach out to our firm, the sooner we can help you in your condemnation fight.
Reach us online via our secure contact form, or call (888) 420-1299 to request a complimentary consultation with a member of our legal team.
What Is Eminent Domain?
Eminent domain is a complex legal area that allows the authority of the government to seize someone’s private property for public use. Examples of “public use” include projects such as building or expanding a road or highway, bridges, transmission lines, mass transit rails, and any construction project deemed economically beneficial to a community.
Under the Natural Gas Act, common carriers—such as pipeline companies that transport crude oil, coal, and carbon dioxide or hydrogen—have eminent domain privileges, along with natural gas pipelines. Condemning authorities such as these are required to provide compensation but, in many cases, the pay isn’t just. Compensation is subjective and determined by a team of appraisers, engineers, and attorneys that have planned the taking for years. Because of this, those affected are encouraged to seek legal counsel.
Can an Oil or Gas Company Seize Private Land to Build a Pipeline?
The Natural Gas Act (NGA) grants regulatory power over the transport and sale of natural gas used “in interstate and foreign commerce” to the U.S. government. The NGA also permits eminent domain—or the right of the government to seize private land for public use with just compensation—for the construction of pipelines to transport natural gas. This means that oil and gas companies can seize your private land to build pipelines in certain circumstances.
To lawfully expropriate private property, the oil or gas company must:
- Prove that the land will be used for public use
- Justly compensate the landowner
Additionally, the oil or gas company must obtain a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) before utilizing eminent domain. Once the entity has obtained the certificate, it can declare that it is unable to acquire the land in question by contract or through an agreement with the landowner on compensation. If this is the case, and the value of the land or property is more than $3,000, the oil or gas company may establish a right to condemn the land/property.
What to Expect During the Eminent Domain or Condemnation Process
The eminent domain/condemnation process can be lengthy and complicated. You will likely be required to provide various forms of documentation and communicate with the condemning authority and other parties.
Generally speaking, you can anticipate the following:
- A request for survey letters
- Agents for the condemning authority asking permission to talk to you
- Appraisals from the condemning authority
- An initial offer letter (usually requiring you to respond within 30 days)
Note that you do not have to accept the condemning authority’s first offer. In fact, we strongly recommend that you contact an oil and gas eminent domain attorney before agreeing to any offer. At Potts Law Firm, we can review the initial offer letter and advise you on your best options. Our goal is to protect your rights and ensure your best interests are preserved throughout the process.
What Damages Are Not Compensable in an Eminent Domain Case?
When you pursue an eminent domain case, you can seek compensation for certain damages related to the seizure or condemnation of your property. However, not all damages are considered compensable.
Examples of non-compensable damages in eminent domain cases include:
- Noise and nuisance
- Dust and debris
- Offers to purchase the property that do not end up in a sale
- Business income (there are very limited exclusions to this)
- Other offers to purchase other properties in the area
- Tax valuations
- Project influence
- Future value of the property
- Circuity of traffic
If you are unsure what types of damages you may be entitled to be compensated for, we strongly recommend that you reach out to the experienced attorneys at Potts Law Firm. We can review your potential case during a free, no-obligation consultation and provide detailed information specific to your situation. Our team has extensive experience in this complex area of law, as well as the necessary resources to aggressively pursue these cases.
Call (888) 420-1299 or contact us online to request a complimentary case review.
With multiple offices located in numerous states, we represent clients nationwide in highly complex eminent domain, government taking, and condemnation matters. If you need assistance with oil and gas company eminent domain proceedings, reach out to our experienced attorneys right away. We are known for taking swift legal action and tirelessly protecting the rights of our clients.
There are no legal fees for you unless we win your case. We only collect attorney fees and litigation-related costs when we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf; if we do not win your case, you do not pay.
If you are unsure if you have a case, don’t hesitate to call us today for a free consultation. Our team of experienced attorneys are ready to review your claim and fight for you.
Q:Should I grant survey permission?
Typically, we advise our clients to allow for survey permission to obtain an accurate “metes and bounds” description of the property and of the taking. Clients should be wary of survey companies asking for environmental and engineering studies on the property.
Q:What are common issues property owners face with condemning authority appraisers?
The condemning authority will often hire an independent appraiser to evaluate your property. These appraisers often have an interest in obtaining a uniform value for all of the properties, will use older sales to justify their valuations, and can be locked into sales that are not truly comparable to your property.
Q:Can I represent myself for my eminent domain case?
It is not recommended that you represent your own eminent domain case. People that do not deal in eminent domain or condemnation matters are often mistaken about what damages they can collect and how to properly evaluate the value of their property. It is in your best interests to contact an attorney with experience in this area, like those at Potts Law Firm.
Q:Are agreements made with the land services company binding?
Agreements made with the land services company are not binding unless they are in writing and approved by the ultimate condemning authority.
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