Project Report:
Defending against eminent domain abuse by fossil fuel industries
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


The explosion in U.S. shale gas and shale oil has caused an unprecedented building spree of oil and gas pipelines. Our concern is that massive investment in pipeline infrastructure may become the largest impediment to transitioning to renewable power. One of the ways to prevent this is by curtailing the ability of pipeline companies to use eminent domain to take property. Because Niskanen has a strong commitment to free market principles and the protection of property rights, it is perfectly situated to lead such legal efforts, and we believe it is extremely important for courts to hear from a pro-market, right-of-center organization that focuses on property rights issues around pipelines, and not exclusively on their environmental impacts.


A group, Friends of Nelson County, that is opposed to the use of eminent domain to condemn land for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline credits Niskanen Center for reaching an agreement to return land for the cancelled pipeline project.

Dominion Energy has agreed to return all easements to landowners. Landowners will keep all compensation.

For two and a half years the Niskanen Center, along with Joyce Burton (landowner liaison for Friends of Nelson) helped to turn this tide. This effort included a year-long partnership with Senator Tim Kaine’s office.

Reported by Barrett Waker for The Walker Foundation


A victory on the public use and/or Due Process claims we are litigating, or a decision holding that a pipeline is an interstate not intrastate pipeline, would not only stop such a pipeline, but have huge ramifications for every intrastate pipeline in selected state.

We have drafted model legislation to amend the NGA that would eliminate the worst of the problems. We launched an advocacy campaign aimed at educating Members on Capitol Hill regarding the principled issues in play that should compel those that care about property rights to support reforming the NGA, and in the course of that have presented two panel briefings (one House and one Senate) for Hill staff.

We are looking to remedy some problems by asking FERC to change its eminent domain regulatory regime.


We chose one pipeline that delivers to an LNG export facility (or U.S. borders), and are arguing that such pipelines do not have the right of eminent domain. Our goal is to bring a case in the 5th Circuit, the best forum for disrupting the frenzy of new LNG export facilities being built on the Gulf Coast (as well as export pipelines to Mexico).

There are a surprising number of FERC's unconstitutional practices under the NGA. Several abuses have not yet been challenged. We identified an interstate pipeline with the best examples of these practices that we brought in a Circuit where are most likely to succeed on those claims.

As flawed as FERC's system is, there is at least widespread public notice of the proposed pipeline. Forcing intrastate pipelines to go through FERC's process takes at least 2-3 years, which gives project opponents time to organize on the ground and creates multiple opportunities to litigate the many other required federal and state permits.

Amount Approved
$30,000.00 on 6/29/2022 (Check sent: 7/19/2022)

820 1st Street NE, Suite 675
Washington, DC 20002

(202) 899-1161

Posted 5/9/2022 3:00 PM
Updated   5/7/2023 10:55 AM

  • Nonprofit

© 2024 Alex C. Walker Foundation