INGAA Commitment to Landowners

Given the unprecedented level of energy infrastructure development that is occurring across the United States, it now is more important than ever that pipeline companies engage with landowners in a respectful, informative and clear manner.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America’s member companies are committed to leading the interstate natural gas pipeline industry in building and maintaining strong, positive relationships with affected landowners.  We recognize the importance of fair and respectful treatment of landowners impacted by the projects we construct and operate that meet the vital energy needs of our communities and customers.  We will work to adhere to the following commitments in a manner commensurate with the type, scope and location of individual interstate projects:

1. Respect and Trust

Positive, lasting relationships are built on mutual respect and trust.  We will strive to understand landowners’ perspectives and help them understand ours through meaningful engagement.

  • Demonstrate respect for those who live on, lease or own property along our pipeline systems.
  • Communicate in a timely manner with the goal of developing respectful relationships and building trust.
  • Clearly communicate the conditions under which we will access a landowner’s property.

2. Accurate and Timely Information

We will answer landowners’ questions about the project including the reason and need for the proposed project, the processes in place governing easement acquisition, certification, environmental review/permitting, construction, operation and maintenance of our facilities, safety, and the particulars of individual projects.

  • Train land agents and others who will engage landowners.
  • Establish a communication plan and provide communication training for those who will engage landowners.
  • Ensure company personnel will be able to answer questions regarding basic pipeline construction activities, the need for work space on landowner’s property, and other project specifics to foster informative communication with landowners and other stakeholders.
  • Establish ongoing communication to solicit and acquire information that can be used to inform the proposed route while striking a balance between the project need, impacts to environmental resources, safety and the landowner’s present and future use of the property.
  • Create communication channels to convey appropriate information about the project depending on the scope, location, and available technology, such as:
    • Establish toll-free telephone “hotlines” for landowners to ask questions or convey concerns to company representatives;
    • Establish internet websites that are populated with timely general and project information; and/or
    • Consider the use of email and other technologies to improve communication with landowners. 

3. Negotiate in Good Faith

It is the responsibility of the project sponsor to work with landowners to attempt to reach a mutually agreeable easement.  We will listen and strive to understand landowner concerns, and work to address those concerns in good faith.  We will attempt to reach agreement with landowners in an honest, fair and reasonable fashion.

  • Ensure land agents listen actively to landowners and strive to reach mutually agreeable solutions.
  • Employ appropriate methods (e.g., recent land transactions in the project area, qualified appraisers, or other reliable sources) to assist with developing fair market offers for easement acquisition.
  • Work with timber or agricultural experts, or other reliable sources to develop appropriate value for losses to crops and other impacts caused by construction activities.

4. Responding to Issues
We will respond to landowner concerns in a timely fashion.  To enhance direct communications and timely responses, we will provide landowners with a point of contact within the company, early in the project, to convey their questions and concerns.  This point of contact will answer landowners’ questions or concerns, and provide general or project-specific information.

  • Establish a toll-free landowner “hotline” to allow landowners to communicate project or construction-related questions and concerns.
  • Enact a 3-business day policy on responding to all landowner calls to our established landowner “hotline” or to the project point of contact.

5. Respect the Regulatory Compact

Final approval for a project is not certain, and our interactions with landowners will reflect that understanding.  Prior to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision, actions taken to negotiate easements or options are at the company’s risk because there is no guarantee the project will be approved. 

  • Inform landowners of regulatory approval status and other project milestones.

6. Eminent Domain

We will begin every easement negotiation with the expectation that a mutual agreement can be reached and eminent domain rights will not need to be exercised.  Further, we will be clear in communicating that federal eminent domain will not be exercised unless the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission grants a certificate.  Eminent domain will only be exercised as a means of last resort.

7. Outreach

We will engage with affected stakeholders to garner input early in the project and strive to build relationships.  We will introduce our industry to those who might not otherwise know about our industry’s benefits to the community and our industry’s dedication to safety.

  • Recognize that landowners may have questions or concerns about infrastructure projects.
  • Tailor outreach efforts to address the size and scope of a project, as well as specific landowner concerns.
  • Begin outreach efforts by identifying affected landowners, public officials, responsible agencies, and tribes in the project area.
  • Maintain a relationship with stakeholders based upon these commitments throughout the lifespan of the facility.

8. Industry Ambassadors

We recognize that each company employee and representative is viewed as an ambassador for the industry.  Our employees and representatives are trained to interact with stakeholders in accordance with these commitments.  We will:

  • Stress that all members of the project team are “ambassadors” for the entire industry and not just the project sponsor;
  • Continue to inform the public on the importance of energy infrastructure and the process required to build that infrastructure; and
  • Emphasize in training the importance of listening to and working with landowners to understand matters better from the landowner’s perspective and respectfully communicate with them so they better understand ours.

9. Ongoing Commitment to Continuous Improvement 

We will routinely evaluate our landowner outreach and communication efforts to drive continuous improvements in our interactions, processes, policies, and procedures.  Natural gas will remain a foundation of our energy economy and there will continue to be the need to construct, operate and maintain natural gas pipeline and storage infrastructure to meet the nation’s energy demand.

  • Train employees and contractors likely to interact with landowners on these INGAA Commitments to Landowners, internal company processes and procedures, and expectations for interacting with landowners.