Stacey McLaughlin news release – Medford, Oregon – United States District Judge Anne Aiken agreed with Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke’s recommendations and granted a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request by landowners for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] to release the Pacific Connector Pipeline’s “landowner lists”, submitted by the pipeline company to FERC. The FOIA request was initially submitted in January of 2019 by the Niskanen Center on affected landowners’ behalf, and they have been fighting for the lists ever since. Lists were compiled by Pacific Connector for the purpose of obtaining FERC’s authorization to take portions of the listed persons’ land and were filed as ‘confidential’ in the FERC proceedings. The lists are also submitted to allegedly identify all of the landowners along a pipeline route that “are to be put on notice,” by the Pipeline of their rights during the FERC proceeding. It is well established that Pacific Connector used the lists countless times to contact the affected landowners, including sending Pipeline representatives to the landowners’ homes to try and pressure them into signing agreements. There is little information on whether Pacific Connector sent all affected landowners proper notice of their rights during the FERC proceeding. Landowners made their FOIA request to shed light on FERC’s oversight of the accuracy and use by Pacific Connector of these lists, which to this day remains unknown. As impacted landowner Stacey McLaughlin stated, “FERC has a Constitutional obligation under the Fifth Amendment to provide adequate notice of its proceedings such as potential impacts on landowners and the rights landowners have, and in the case of the Pacific Connector, FERC delegated this duty to Pacific Connector. This is akin to inviting the fox into the hen house to safeguard the chickens. We hope this ruling is just the beginning of correcting what we believe is FERC overreach in favor of applicants.” Senior Staff Attorney Megan C. Gibson of the Niskanen Center noted that if a landowner does not receive adequate notice from FERC and the Pipeline, they probably won’t understand that they have to formally file a motion to intervene in the FERC proceeding to assert their rights. If they fail to file for intervention, that landowner cannot request a rehearing or seek any judicial review of FERC’s decision. This makes the accuracy and monitoring of a pipeline’s use of a landowner lists incredibly important to be done correctly so landowners understand and know their rights during a FERC proceeding. If not, their land can be taken from them without due process of law. This fact is demonstrated by FERC’s recent rejection of several landowners’ ability to participate in rehearing requests because they had not intervened, or they filed their request three hours after an east coast time deadline. As FERC Commissioner Glick recently stated in his dissent in FERC’s order on rehearing, “We’ve heard a lot recently about how the Commission is willing to bend over backward to accommodate landowners. Except we never actually see it.” Douglas County landowner Bill Gow stated, “The fact that we have to sue FERC to obtain information that affects those of us impacted by the pipeline is another example of how FERC has rigged this process in favor of the gas companies and against the landowners. FERC falls short on anything regulatory; they are more representatives for the fossil fuel industry.” Judge Aiken and Magistrate Clarke’s ruling now gives Oregon landowners the ability to verify that FERC fulfilled its constitutional duty of adequately notifying all of the impacted landowners along the route. Klamath County landowner Deb Evans, stated, “This ruling could have enormous impacts for landowners who are embroiled in pipeline disputes in the future; we hope this is precedent setting and will change the innerworkings of FERC and their unequal treatment of landowners.”