Landowners File Trespass Suit Against Palomar

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Portland, OR – Two groups of property owners fighting NW Natural’s proposed Palomar Pipeline are filing a lawsuit this morning in Washington County against Northwest Natural’s Palomar Pipeline project as a way of stopping repeatedly and flagrant trespassing by NW Natural’s employees and contractors. The suit is being filed on behalf of the NW Property Rights Coalition, Oregon Citizens Against the Pipeline and four individual landowners. It asks the court to order employees and contractors working on Northwest Natural’s proposed Palomar Pipeline to stop trespassing on the private farm, forest and residential lands the Palomar pipeline would cross over. It also seeks to force the pipeline surveyors, which include biologists, archeologists, hydrologists and others, to turn over all data and information gathered illegally while trespassing.

This suit coincides with protest today at Northwest Natural’s Annual Shareholders Meeting in at 1 pm at 220 NW 2nd Ave in downtown Portland where LNG and pipeline opponents will be giving information to NW Natural shareholders about why LNG, which costs twice as much as domestic gas, is a bad investment for the company. “It’s outrageous that Northwest Natural and their contractors are flaunting Oregon laws and trespassing wherever they like,” says 67-year old tree farmer Richard Hanschu from Forest Grove, who is a plaintiff on the suit. “This land has been in my family since 1956. It’s bad enough that they want to try to take our land via eminent domain, but it adds insult to injury to see them sneaking around my land without permission.”

Paul Sansone a nursery owner with Oregon Citizens Against the Pipeline says that the trespassing problem has become a daily occurrence. “Every time you turn around you hear about someone else who has found NW Natural’s crews out trespassing on their property. We have had enough and have little choice but ask a court to step in.” The groups attorney Thane Tienson says the law is clear. “Oregon law prohibits trespassing whether you are a private individual or a major corporation and people being threatened with these high impact pipelines should not have to wake up to surveyors illegally tromping through their backyards.” Sandi Fitts-Freeman, who has 20 acres of farmland in Gales Creek and who is also a plaintiff on the suit agrees. “I did not even know that NW Natural’s pipeline would come across my property until my neighbor told me there were people out trespassing on my property with GIS units. NW Natural is acting as if they are above the law and our most basic rights appear to mean very little to them.”

Gayle Kiser with NW Property Rights Coalition says that NW Natural and companies proposing other LNG pipelines should consider themselves on notice that continued trespassing will not be tolerated. “We have complained to FERC, we have complained to our senators and representatives and we have complained to NW Natural, NorthernStar and Oregon LNG, but it has all seemed to fall on deaf ears, With this lawsuit they are finally going to have to deal with us.”