Pipelines trump your property rights.

Energy companies are increasingly suing South Texas landowners as they work to build pipelines to accommodate surging oil and gas production.

The question isn’t whether a company can route a pipeline across a property owner’s land.  Pipeline companies, under Texas law, wield the power of eminent domain and can use it to acquire an easement even if the property owner opposes it.  But landowners can negotiate for compensation and when those talks break down, companies can file suit.  Actually, all the companies have to do is make and offer and if the landowner doesn’t accept, then they can file suit (really hardly a negotiation, more like a shakedown).

In 2011, pipeline companies have filed at least 184 lawsuits against landowners in four South Texas counties, but concerns about pipelines snaking across your property whether you want them to or not should be of concern to more than South Texans.  Folks in the DFW area have already expressed concern over the probability of increase pipelines in their region with the every expanding fracking industry.  And many property owners along a proposed tar sands pipeline from Canada to Houston have already experienced heavy-handed treatment from the pipeline company, even though many of the needed permits are not yet in place.

So while fracking or tar sands mining may not be happening in your backyard, it doesn’t mean that these activities won’t affect you directly.

If you want to read more about the proposed tar sands pipeline and the proposed pipeline routes, click here.