By Sasha von Oldershausen
PRESIDIO — “Seven thousand dollars,” said Debra Spriggs. “That’s all they think our land is worth.”
Spriggs, whose family’s ranch happens to be in the path of the proposed Trans-Pecos Pipeline, is one of several landowners frustrated with the way that Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has conducted its easement negotiations.
As of two weeks ago, ETP — the energy company at the helm of the pipeline project — had filed 13 eminent domain lawsuits against [Presidio County] landowners who failed to come to an easement agreement. Though Spriggs and her family haven’t been served yet, the way things have been going, it’s more than likely they will.
“The negotiations aren’t really negotiations,” said David Williams, foreman of the MacGuire Ranch, who has been directly involved in the negotiation process with ETP’s landman. “We suggest one price and he suggests another; we have not been able to meet in the middle.”
In fact, said Williams, the last offer that the pipeline company made was just a fraction of their original offer. He said that ETP originally offered ranch owner Betty MacGuire $90 per rod. Each rod measures 16.5 feet long with approximately 320 rods to a mile. The MacGuire Ranch has roughly 4.5 miles of land under which ETP plans to run pipe, which would bring their grand total to $129,600—a one-time payment, according to ETP’s offer.
But after failed negotiations, ETP served the MacGuire Ranch with a petition that stated a suggested total of $37,070—which amounts to something closer to $26 per rod. The petition also indicated that should the proprietors commence proceedings of a lawsuit, ETP would reduce the suggested total even more—to $33,000.
Offers supposedly based on appraisal
The pipeline company says the process by which they determine their payments is based on land appraisals. “Qualified local real estate appraisers conduct appraisals to help ETP assess the fair market value of each property,” wrote ETP spokesperson Lisa Dillinger in an e-mail. “Easement compensation is based on the appraised fair market value, the existing land use (city, non-city, developed, non-developed) and overall market values for the specific area of the state. Possible impacts to the property during construction are also considered when applicable (crop loss, hunting impacts, etc.).”