NH1 News Investigates Incineration Zone: Eminent domain and the Kinder Morgan pipeline
NASHUA - Homeowners along the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline route in Southern New Hampshire are worried about losing their land.
Under a process called eminent domain, the government can take your property and give it to a private company.
In this case, that company is Kinder Morgan, the nation’s largest energy company.
Homer Shannon turned his car into a mobile billboard, driving attention to his mission to stop Kinder Morgan from passing gas through his land.
“It never, ever occurred to me that someone would want to take some of my land - a pretty significant chunk actually - to install a natural gas pipeline,” Shannon said.
If Kinder Morgan wants that land, it may be able to legally take it.
In short, FERC - the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a five-member commission appointed by the president of the United States - will make the final decision on the 80-mile natural gas pipeline project.
“That body will make the determination on whether this project gets a certificate of public convenience and necessity,” said Allen Fore, Vice President of Public Affairs, Kinder Morgan.
With that certificate, Kinder Morgan can go after the land it wants.
“We would have the ability to petition the federal court for properties that we haven’t been able to successfully negotiate,” Fore said. “We rarely ever use that authority, if we’re granted it.”
That’s not comforting news for Shannon and many landowners living along what’s been dubbed the “Incineration Zone.”
“We’re talking about my actual land! My land! My land that I bought. I own. And I say you have no right to take it!” Shannon said.
Melissa Rickards (above) lives right along pipeline path in Pelham.
“Some of the maps actually show it going through my house, which means the house is gone," she said. "It’s insane!”
“I think this is a total abuse of the process of eminent domain,” Terry Trudel of Windham said.
Here in New Hampshire, you may not have to give up your land - if you’re up for a legal battle.
At issue right now, is whether federal energy law can trump New Hampshire’s constitution. It was amended back in 2006 prohibiting the taking of land through eminent domain for private development. 86 percent of voters pushed that through.
Remember, the ultimate decision belongs to the presidentially-appointed members of FERC.
We asked several of the presidential candidates campaigning in New Hampshire what they think about the process.
“Well, as you know, this is a local matter.” - Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president
“It ought to be decided at the local level.” - Jeb Bush, Republican candidate for president
“It’s a local issue, but the issue of eminent domain is always a serious one. It’s a tough one you have to deal with. I usually come down more on the side of the people who own the property.” - John Kasich, Republican candidate for president
“I think eminent domain should always be a tool of last resort. Property rights are our foundation.” - Bobby Jindal, Republican candidate for president
“To the extent that it takes somebody’s property unfairly, I say get your day in court.” says Lindsey Graham, Republican candidate for president
“When we look at our natural gas reserves, in this country, we’ve got enough to last—if we’re wasteful—for over a thousand years. We don’t have to be taking people’s land.” - Dr. Ben Carson, Republican candidate for president.
Stay tuned to NH1 News for continuing coverage of The Incineration Zone.