Representatives Malinowski and Kuster Introduce Legislation to Protect Landowners from Eminent Domain

May 22, 2020
Press Release

(Somerville, NJ) Today, Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) and Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02) introduced the Landowners’ Right to Due Process in Rehearings at FERC Act to ensure that landowners are able to exercise their legal right to challenge energy projects that disrupt their property prior to construction. 

This legislation grants due-process rights to petitioners who request a rehearing on a pipeline project, by amending the Natural Gas Act to require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to respond to a rehearing request within a fixed timeline of 60 days. During this time, FERC is prohibited from authorizing construction and pipelines cannot exercise eminent domain.

As it stands, under the Natural Gas Act, FERC issues “tolling orders” in response to a rehearing request from a petitioner. These tolling orders are used to buy FERC additional time to examine the request while preventing the petitioner, often a landowner, from engaging in any further litigation. Because of this, tolling orders have allowed FERC to delay judgement indefinitely. Meanwhile, developers are allowed to proceed with taking property through eminent domain and beginning construction activities, such as cutting down trees, that permanently alter petitioners’ private land.

“Landowners in my district are being cheated out of the opportunity to defend their land from seizure by the PennEast Corporation,” said Representative Malinowski. “This bill will give a voice to landowners fighting to protect their property.”

“I am greatly concerned by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission keeping landowners in limbo while their land can quite literally be taken out from under them,” said Representative Kuster. “This issue came to the forefront in my district several years ago, when a proposed pipeline project cut an indiscriminate path across southern New Hampshire. Families whose land is threatened by a pipeline deserve a fair hearing and must have their due process rights protected. I’m pleased to join Rep. Malinowski to introduce this important legislation to keep FERC accountable.”