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Companies take pipeline battle to court

50-year easement called for removal at end of term

A Liberty Lake storage company is suing a pipeline company over an expired 50-year easement.

Gas Transmission Northwest Corp. has responded by initiating a condemnation against Storage Solutions Liberty Lake LLC, whose facility at 2221 N. Harvard Road straddles a pipeline that carries natural gas from Canada into Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California.

The original easement agreement was signed by GTN predecessor Pacific Gas Transmission Co. and the state of Washington on Nov. 29, 1960. Pacific Gas paid the state $224,000.

Terms call for removal of the pipeline from the 100-foot wide easement when the agreement expired.

Storage Solutions bought the 3.4 acres of property split diagonally by the easement in 2007, attorney Kevin Roberts said.

The company’s lawsuit, filed in Spokane County Superior Court, said GTN was notified the easement was expiring and asked that the pipe be removed.

“They just did nothing,” said Roberts, who added that Storage Solutions does not expect GTN to reroute its pipeline.

GTN, in seeking removal of the litigation to U.S. District Court, says it tried to negotiate a deal with Storage Solutions, but without success.

As an interstate pipeline company, GTN says it has authority to exercise its power of eminent domain, and asks the court to set a valuation of the easement, and its condemnation.

The pipeline company says the easement has been valued at $86,000.

“I don’t know where they came up with that,” Roberts said.

The GTN system includes more than 1,300 miles of pipe, but David Dodson, a spokesman for parent company TransCanada, said there is no other right-of-way litigation filed against the company in the United States.

“Most easements are perpetual,” he said.

A search of U.S. District Court dockets in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Northern California found no similar lawsuits against GTN.