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Pipeline companies are paying more to cross private land in Texas

Felisa Cardona

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has tapped reserves that were once thought unreachable.  The industry is scrambling to provide infrastructure to support the boom.  Pipelines sometimes have to cross private land.  For the pipeline companies, it’s not a simple off that has to be accepted.  Recent court cases have been awarding landowners significantly higher amounts than companies offer reported Gilad Edelman for The Texas Tribune

In March, a jury awarded approximately $1.6 million to a landowner that had been offered $80,000 by Peregrine Pipeline Co.    

“I think the whole country’s going to be watching these cases, because we’re kind of leading the way in these issues," said Matthew Festa, a professor of land use at the South Texas College of Law.

A pipeline operator must pay for the right to run a new pipe through private land.  That’s known as an easement.  If the company and landowner can’t agree on a price, the company can begin a process to have the land condemned to obtain the easement through the power of eminent domain.  In that case, the property value subject to the easement is determined by a special commission. If either side disagrees with the award, it can bring the case to court. 

More about easements and recent court cases is available from The Texas Tribune.