Editorial: Landowners, beware!

“Just a good old country lawyer,” from Mississippi or thereabouts, is out and about in Rappahannock County, knocking on residents’ doors, clutching some innocuous-sounding legal documents he’s graciously soliciting for signatures.

The proposed pipeline.
The proposed pipeline.

Don’t sign! Or, at the very least, please don’t sign in haste.

For the good old country lawyer represents Spectra Energy, which is contemplating running a $4 billion interstate natural gas pipeline through the county. Contrary to initial rumors, the proposed pipeline would not follow the existing powerline right-of-way but, rather, go through previously unspoiled land, much of it in existing conservation easements.

While in theory signing the document would simply grant permission for Spectra Energy to come onto your property to snoop around and survey things, in practice it could be but the first step in an inexorable process whose ultimate outcome may well be an unhappy one for the landowner.

Gas pipeline rights-of-way are notoriously complicated affairs, with many interested parties, so understanding exactly what you’re signing may require your own legal counsel.

To help potentially impacted landowners begin to understand the process and its consequences, the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) is sponsoring community meetings in the affected counties of Rappahannock, Culpeper and Orange. The first one in Rappahannock is 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday (June 24) at the Washington fire hall (10 Firehouse Ln.). For further information, visit pecva.org/events.

So don’t get sweet-talked into signing anything until you go to this meeting!

Walter Nicklin