Many of the construction easements that Sunoco obtained to build the Dragonpipe (Mariner East pipeline system) lasted three years and are now expiring. Land agents are currently making the rounds, contacting landowners to seek renewals. If enough people resist this process, construction of the pipeline will be stopped.
Here are some suggestions on what to do if Sunoco approaches you for an easement discussion.
- Before you do anything else, STOP TALKING TO SUNOCO. They have a well-developed playbook that they will employ against you as long as you are willing to talk to them.
- Retain an attorney, who can act as a buffer. If Sunoco attempts to contact you, inform them that you are represented by counsel and they may not contact you directly.
- A list of attorneys you could consider is at the end of this post.
- Be clear and firm: “Get off my property. If you come back or call me, I will notify the police.”
- Remember that so-called “land agents” are unlicensed and unregulated and their sole mission is to get your signature on a dotted line.
- If you have an existing construction easement, review it now to determine its expiration date.
- Know your rights: You have the right to exclude agents from your property. You have the right not to be harassed or threatened. You have the right not to talk to them, and you have a right to be represented by counsel.
- Call BOTH of your representatives in the General Assembly to let them know that Sunoco agents are seeking your property.
- Find your state senator and representative here: legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator.
- Give Sunoco’s agents any option to contact you later.
- Engage in a discussion beyond “I have nothing to say to you. I am represented by [lawyer’s name]. Do not contact me again.”
- Be intimidated by threats. The best way to avoid them is not to talk to Sunoco agents.
- You may hear: “If you don’t sign, we’ll take it from you by eminent domain.” Maybe this is true, maybe not. One thing that IS true is that Sunoco would prefer to obtain your signature voluntarily than receive bad press for trying to take your private property.
- You may hear: “If we have to take you to court, you’ll get less money.” Maybe this is true, maybe not. In recent contested eminent domain cases, people have received far more in court than was offered by a pipeline company.
Remember that you are not alone; you are part of a community which is here to support you. As Benjamin Franklin wrote: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Here, in alphabetical order, are three lawyers who have been involved in representing those impacted by Mariner East construction. All three are willing to have an introductory discussion with you at no cost.
- Mark Freed: curtinheefner.com/mark-l-freed-3/
- Steve Harvey: steveharveylaw.com/
- Rich Raiders: raiderslaw.com/
Remember: if you are concerned about the costs of a legal case, you can agree with your lawyer on a dollar limit on the amount you are willing to spend.