Surveys & Easements


The Bluegrass Pipeline project proposes to build a pipeline to transport “natural gas liquids” (NGLs) from Ohio and Pennsylvania to the Gulf region, where the liquids will be “fractionated” to separate out the hydrocarbons for export or use. Natural gas liquids are flammable petroleum hydrocarbons that include ethane, butane and isobutane, pentane, and propane.

While the exact location of the pipeline being proposed by this company, which will run from northern Kentucky and will tie into an existing Texas Gas transmission line in Hardinsburg, has not been established, representatives of Williams Company and Boardwalk have been approaching landowners in the counties through which they want to lay the pipeline.  It would include an estimated 18 Kentucky counties such as Bracken, Pendleton, Grant, Harrison, Owen, Scott, Henry, Franklin, Woodford, Shelby, Anderson, Spencer, Bullitt, Nelson, Meade, Breckinridge, Hardin and Larue counties. Any counties bordering these areas are also at-risk.

Before You Sign - READ THIS

While it is our opinion that this pipeline does not belong in Kentucky or anywhere, we feel obligated to share the following for your consideration if you choose to sign an agreement with the Bluegrass Pipeline and its agents to enter onto your land. 

(In reviewing the standard form agreement that landowners are being 
asked to sign, there are several key provisions missing).

You may want to include these terms in any 
permission agreement that you would choose to sign, and to have your attorney draft a permission form that includes these protections.
1. You might require that notice be given to you of the date(s) and times that any person will be on your 
property. That notice should be in writing at least two weeks before the surveying is scheduled, and should be followed up by additional notice by mail or phone call at least 3 days prior to when anyone will be on the property.

2. You might require that no person be allowed onto your property unless you or another person of your choice is on the property at the time.

3. You might require proof of liability, casualty, and worker compensation insurance policies. By giving permission to anyone to enter onto your property, you become potentially liable for certain personal injuries that may occur on the property.  Conversely, while the survey permission form indicates that Bluegrass Pipeline will “pay for any and all 
damages to property, crops and fences that are caused by the Survey Work,” proof that the company conducting the surveying has both workers' compensation and liability / casualty insurance is an important protection in the event that there is damage caused to or by the surveyors.

Additionally, the company 
should be asked to provide a letter of credit or evidence of a performance bond that will cover any damages.
4. You might require that the surveying company agree in the permission agreement to hold harmless and indemnify you for any injuries that occur to those surveying, and for any damage to the person or property of others caused by the surveying activity.
This informational handout was developed by Tom Fitzgerald, Director, Kentucky Resources Council, Inc. It is not intended to provide legal advice, but instead to provide some considerations for landowners who may wish to grant 
permission to allow surveys on their property, or who wish to rescind that permission.

The Council recommends that 
landowners do not sign any document granting permission to survey, or any easement, without first consulting a lawyer.

5. You might want to limit the duration and frequency of the permission so that it is not open-ended.

6. You might include a clause that terminates the permission if the surveying company violates any terms of the permission, such as not providing notice.
7. You might want to include a requirement that a copy of all survey information and reports concerning your property, (including geotechnical borings or surveys, and cultural and archaeological resource surveys) be provided to you within thirty (30) days after the information is collected.
8. You may want to include language indicating that “this permission does not constitute the grant of an easement, and is only a grant of permission to enter the property for the limited purposes described above.”
9. You may want to be specific about the sorts of surveying that you are allowing. The standard form provides an open-ended permission to conduct surveys that “include, but are not limited to”…. This open-ended language should be eliminated so that the specific activities that the permission allows are clear.

10.  Demand annual payments (also called royalties) as long as the pipeline is there.  When operating at full capacity using today's NGL rates per barrel, Williams Company can make 1.5 million dollars a day on this line.  You should get your share for assuming the high level of risk, decreased property values, and restrictions on your land use.

How To Withdraw or “Rescind” Permission

If you have given permission rather than making a written contract giving permission in return for payment or other “consideration,” you can rescind that permission at any time. A letter sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, is recommended, so that you have proof that the mail was delivered. If you have accepted a gift as part of the grant of permission, you should return that with the letter 
rescinding permission.

Your letter can be straightforward, stating simply that:

“This letter provides notice that the permission to survey my land that I previously granted is withdrawn and rescinded effective today, _________. Bluegrass Pipeline Company, LLC and its successors, assigns, affiliates, agents, employees, and contractors, and including your company and its representatives, no longer have my permission to perform any surveys, or to enter onto my land for any reason or at any time.”

What if you don’t want the pipeline to cross your land?

If you don’t want the pipeline to cross your property, don’t grant permission to survey. While it is not yet settled that this pipeline project has the power to condemn easements in order to locate the proposed pipeline, generally companies would rather work with landowners willing to sell an easement than to pursue condemnation. If you would rather not have the pipeline on your property, “just say no” to a 
request to survey your land, since the survey is the first step to the company narrowing down the precise location of the pipeline.

If you say “no,” it is more likely that the company may choose a different route 
with less opposition from landowners.

Where Can You Find a Lawyer?

If you don’t have an existing relationship with an attorney with whom you can consult, contact your county Bar Association, or the Kentucky Bar Association in Frankfort, for names of attorneys in your area that might be able to help advise you on whether to grant permission to survey, and on the language and conditions of any grant of permission. Our group also includes some attorneys who are willing to provide consultation and support.