The Easement Action Teams Landowners and Lawyers Cooperative (LLC) works with local communities to provide immediate legal representation to landowners facing pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. The first priority is to protect landowners’ property rights and water. Landowners should have the ultimate right of what does and does not happen on their land. The LLC works with landowners fighting to protect and defend their lands, while simultaneously building and deploying a durable but flexible alliance of organizers, lawyers, law schools, and legal organizations critical to achieve long-term, positive legal change—ending eminent domain for private gain.The Easement Action Teams Landowners and Lawyers Cooperative (LLC) was founded on the model created in Nebraska to protect the land and water from the risky Keystone XL pipeline. Landowners and neighbors concerned about the deck being stacked against them sought out the help of organizations like Bold Nebraska and the Farmers Union. Landowners decided a group totally focused on the legal challenges of those in pipeline routes needed to be formed, and contacted the Domina Law Group to assist them and over the years a legal model was developed that has helped protect property rights in Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Oregon and many other towns and states. For the last 12 years, Brian Jorde, trial lawyer and managing partner of Domina Law Group, has worked with and side-by-side hundreds of landowners in all aspects of property right education, landowner legal challenges to proposed pipeline projects, and handled hundred of lawsuits and appeals including constitutional challenges and condemnation litigation.
In Pennsylvania alone, nearly forty landowner groups have formed to gain collective bargaining power in negotiations with industry representatives, representing well over 500,000 acres. These landowner coalitions vary greatly in size, scope, and structure, ranging from small groups of community members, to large organized coalitions that cover multiple counties and even cross state borders. Together, landowner groups have played an instrumental role in unconventional shale gas leasing and development. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider when deciding whether to join a landowner coalition. Based on the findings of a research project supported by the USDA’s Northeast branch of SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education), this publication will provide an overview of the types of landowner coalitions, a typical landowner coalition timeline from conception to leasing, advantages and disadvantages of joining a landowner coalition, and finally possible future applications of the landowner coalition model.