MOUNT VERNON — The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation held a pipeline briefing at the Knox County Career Center, Monday night, to help landowners understand the approval process for the pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan and how affected landowners can protect themselves by understanding the negotiation of an easement agreement.
Dale Arnold, director of energy services for the OFBF conducted the briefing for about 15 landowners and other interested parties.
“I want to first say I am not an attorney or an engineer,” Arnold told the crowd. “But, I have been involved with the farm bureau in this kind of work for 20 of my 25 years with the company. My main goal is to help people understand and appreciate what is going on. I don’t represent a pipeline or a company, and the farm bureau does not have any investment in this area.”
Arnold said the reason he was speaking about it was that the farm bureau public policy action team has seen this as an issue for Knox County.
“They have asked me to help folks and brief them on the particular issues so they can make informed decisions,” he said.
Arnold outlined the process for Kinder Morgan getting approval for the project. He said in Ohio, Knox county is going to be impacted more than any other county with the proposed pipeline going through about 31 miles of the county.
He said right now all plans shown by Kinder Morgan are preliminary and not set in stone. Approval for the pipeline’s route will be decided by the Ohio Power Siting Board. He said Kinder Morgan has not yet made formal application to the OPSB and he didn’t expect that to happen until around the end of this year.
“There will be hearings in this county — local public hearings,” Arnold said. “They will be conducted by what is called an attorney examiner; not one but two. The attorney examiner will have the power of a judge. Once the case goes forward and once the application is complete it will have a docket number which can be checked on a daily basis.”
Arnold said the first round of public information meetings have taken place and that the landowners probably haven’t seen a lot of surveyors out and around. But they are out there.
“First you have a line of sight survey where they take a look at the land maps and see where they think the pipeline should go,” Arnold explained.
He emphasized the advantage of cooperating with the surveyors and Kinder Morgan is because the landowner knows his or her land and its needs.
“The easement agreement you will be presented with is 10 percent boilerplate, things that are required by Ohio law,” Arnold said. “The rest is negotiable.”
Arnold said the negotiation process is important because it will provide the landowner with a say in the final outcome.
“Eminent domain probably doesn’t apply in this case because Kinder Morgan isn’t a public utility,” he said. “However, Ohio law does allow taking the use of land if it is deemed necessary for the pipeline to go through that land. In that case, the easement agreement would be a generic agreement with no negotiated clauses.”
Arnold emphasized this would be important because the agreement was good for as long as the pipeline was in use and could be in effect for the landowner’s lifetime and for several generations to come.
“This is why you need to use your experience in agriculture to make this work,” Arnold said. “You will need to be able to negotiate things like ingress and egress to the area during construction, setting baselines such as crop yield data, cover depth (of the pipeline), topsoil preservation and tile line repair.”
Arnold said those interested in getting help on this issue can contact him at email@example.com.