Come and Take It: Make the pipeline company have to use eminent domain

Call the pipeline company’s bluff, says one landowner, and and at worst you’ll get a much better offer. At best, if enough people do it, the pipeline will become too expensive and won’t get built. Like the Texians at Gonzales, the Georgians at Fort Morris, and the Spartans at Thermopylae, we can stop an invasion, this time by peaceful means. Come and Take It!

Chip Northrup wrote for No Fracking Way 8 July 2013, COME AND TAKE IT — Why Forcing a Condemnation Is The Best Option,

Here is my laypersons view:


1) I give away my right to sue.
2) I enter into a business deal with unknown future liabilities.
3) I have continuing extra insurance expense.


1) Only gas can be transported, no tar sands or other liquids.
2) No future pipelines or other utilities will be allowed.
3) We gain political power when significant numbers of landowners refuse to sign.
5) FERC’s mandate is to listen to landowners.
6) They lose their bargaining tool when eminent domain is seen as better for me.
7) I still get paid something,
8) I have no liability,
9) I preserve my right to sue them later “

Condemnations substantially boosts the pipelines’s cost along the route. Which could force the promoters to either abandon that line or re-route it to a less costly alignment. Like Oklahoma.


I am not a lawyer, but I can attest from personal experience with this option that a far better deal may be had by holding out than by taking the first offer. Why is it their first offer, after all?

Remember, at least two lawyers say Sabal Trail doesn’t have Georgia eminent domain because that pipeline doesn’t even serve Georgia. (Don’t fall for the “open-access” claim: it doesn’t mean anybody along the way gets any gas; only that anybody can buy at the end of the pipeline.) So there’s no eminent domain unless and until FERC grants a permit, which is what FERC’s own website says. And according to FERC’s own rules and a U.S. Court of Appeals, FERC has to demonstrate there is a public need for a pipeline that outweighs its cumulative effects. As the EPA has pointed out, neither Sabal Trail nor FERC has even demonstrated that there’s any need for the energy from the pipeline that can’t be better provided through efficiency, conservation, and solar and wind power.

FERC’s website also says:

State or local trespass and access laws prevail until a certificate is issued by the Commission. Some states have laws that allow a company to get access to property for survey purposes. Procedures vary by state. Once a certificate is issued or an easement/survey agreement or court order is obtained, the company may come onto your land. Usually the company will notify you in advance.

As far as I know Georgia law does not permit such access, which is why Sabal Trail will have to come back to south Georgia for a trespass jury trial after they failed to get a court order from a judge in Leesburg, Georgia.

Chip Northrup’s Come and Take It flag has the cannon from the 1835 Battle of Gonzales that began the Texan revolution. But the Texans took that phrase from Col. John McIntosh’s answer from Fort Morris in Georgia in 1778 to a British demand for surrender:

Sir, we would rather perish in vigorous defense than accept your proposal. We are fighting the battles of America and therefore disdain to remain neutral until its fate is determined. As to surrendering the fort, receive this laconic reply:

It worked. The British backed off. Yes, they came back several months later and took that fort, but the British lost that war. Meanwhile, McIntosh’s reply bought precious time, and the colonists ended up getting a much better deal.

By “laconic” McIntosh was refering to Laconia, the region of ancient Sparta in Greece. And by laconic reply he was referring to Spartan King Leonidas’ reply to a Persian demand he surrender weapons during the Battle of Thermopylae:

Molon Labe
Come and Take

Thermopylae was the battle that stopped the Persian invasion of Greece, thus preserving the democracy that after a couple of thousand years seeded the United States.

Everywhere a pipeline is proposed, we have an opportunity to stop the fossil fuel industry from invading our lands and our democracy. Unlike the Spartans at Thermopylae, nobody has to die. This battle is in the law courts and the court of public opinion and in the public markets. If enough people refuse to give up their lands, no pipeline will be built.

Molon Labe.

Come and Take It.


12 thoughts on “Come and Take It: Make the pipeline company have to use eminent domain

  1. This is the PERFECT approach! I wish everyone would do it. I was told “off the record” by a Sabal Trail Employee (third party land agent) that Sabal is prepared to offer THREE times their original offer before they use eminent domain! I realize it’s too late to use this as a strategy because so many have already signed for the survey, but until they have a permit from the FERC they’re still in survey mode. NO PERMIT HAS BEEN ISSUED! If enough people REFUSE TO SELL the right-of-way, this proposal could spend years in the courts and if that happens, Sabal will walk away from the project (same guy told me that). I still say that if we are going to have a gas pipeline FORCED on us, then it MUST be built by a company that is capable of building a pipeline that is capable of also transmitting solar and wind, using the same infrastructure! It CAN be done, however Sabal/SPECTRA is not capable of building such a line, an have said as much. They have in fact, said they wouldn’t even consider anything but gas.

  2. It’s not too late. Landowners can rescind permission:

    And if Spectra doesn’t need 100% of landowners, what were they doing in Leesburg, GA?

    Here’s Laura Dailey asking Spectra about renewable energy on their pipeline
    right of way and Spectra’s refusal to even talk about it:


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