Intimidating phone calls. Hard-sell tactics. Alleged trespassing.
Since April, when the owners of the Mountain Valley Pipeline several property owners in Rockingham and Alamance counties have publicly shared stories of being harassed and verbally bullied by land agents for the MVP Southgate natural gas project.
Yet so far, the state attorney general’s office has not responded to citizen complaints by reining in the contractors’ conduct.
Laura Brewer, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice has not returned phone or email messages that Policy Watch left for her yesterday seeking comment.
The project would extend the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, entering North Carolina just east of Eden in Rockingham County and extending southeast, ending near Graham in Alamance County. Land agents and surveyors have since swarmed the area.
“[The agent] left a note on my gate,” said one woman who attended a meeting sponsored by the Haw River Assembly in Alamance County last month. “A week or so, another note.” The land agent, who wanted to speak to her about a survey, “got really pushy,” the woman said. The agent then spoke with her husband, saying “Wouldn’t you love to have a natural gas line in your state?”
“My husband told the land agent no,” the woman said. “And she hung up.”
In April, Daniel and Kelly Bollinger, who live near Green Level, told Policy Watch that Doyle Land Services agent Darrell Dinkler had tried to mislead them about the pipeline and had also persistently called them, even at night, about accessing their land. The Bollingers denied the company any access to their 53-acre farm.
Last week, Bollinger took photos of Dinkler, who was accompanying survey crews another resident’s private property. Bollinger said he was present when an Alamance County Sheriff’s Deputy ordered Dinkler and the crew to leave and remove all equipment because they didn’t have permission to be there.
An Alamance County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Mark Dockery said he had no incident reports of trespassing calls involving the pipeline crews. However, he said it is possible that deputies had been called to a location but didn’t take a report.
Shawn Day, spokesperson for the MVP Southgate acknowledged that Dinkler accompanied the survey crew TRC Solutions to “serve as a point of contact for landowners.”
“When TRC’s survey crew was asked to leave, the Doyle representative assisted them in packing up their equipment to expedite their departure from the premises,” Day wrote in an email.
Doyle Land Services can’t legally survey in North Carolina because the firm is not licensed here. However, the firm can operate as land agents. The NC Department of Environmental Quality maintains a “Registry of Landmen” for land agents seeking access to private property for fracking and other mineral rights. However, state law does not require land agents working on pipeline projects to register — even though the statute specifically mentions the word “pipelines.”