As early as February of 2014, Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership began surveying land for the possible expansion of its pipeline system in Wisconsin and Illinois. Enbridge now operates Line 61, which runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Flanagan, Illinois. The survey work is being done as Enbridge contemplates constructing a new pipeline parallel to Line 61. Impacted Illinois counties include Boone, DeKalb, LaSalle, and Livingston Counties. In order to construct a new pipeline, it is likely that Enbridge will need new or expanded easements from impacted landowners. Before construction can begin, however, Enbridge will need approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission.
Several aspects of any such pipeline construction project impact a landowner’s rights. The initial survey work, route selection, finding of public need by the ICC, and easement negotiation all represent areas where landowners must be aware of their rights and the risk of loss. For instance, when a pipeline company asks for permission to conduct a preliminary survey, it is advisable to insist on a written agreement and financial compensation before consenting. While a company may characterize its survey work as non-invasive, past landowners have experienced damage to fences, rutted lanes, holes left from soil borings, and escaped livestock as a result of survey work. A written agreement prepared by those with experience in handling such matters can protect a landowner’s interests. Another example where knowledgeable assistance can make a difference pertains to the ICC. As an administrative agency subject to specific laws and its own unique rules, having the help of someone experienced with ICC proceedings will make navigating the regulatory process easier. Easement negotiation is also critical in that it includes more than just money. A variety of other factors should be considered in easement negotiations to successfully protect a landowner’s interests.
In all of these areas, Shay Law, Ltd. can assist developers in obtaining their required certificates and approvals, and assist landowners and others to protect their interests. Over the years, William Shay has represented energy developers, energy cooperatives, and numerous landowners in negotiations with utilities, as well as in ICC proceedings. Mr. Shay’s representation of developers, cooperatives, and landowners, and groups of landowners, includes numerous ICC pipeline and electric transmission line dockets. For example, Shay Law, Ltd. represented a group of landowners in ICC Docket 14-0754, in which Dakota Access, LLC sought approval for the construction of, and route for, a new petroleum pipeline. In addition, among the attorneys at Shay Law, Ltd. are former ICC administrative law judges John Albers and Jan Von Qualen. Mr. Albers and Ms. Von Qualen have presided over dockets relating to pipelines, electric transmission lines, natural gas transmission lines, and water distribution lines. Their experience can provide valuable insight into the ICC decision making process.