Loopholes to be aware of
From my own Ag Inspection experience in 2017
Almost every pipeline construction project will go through cropland, woodland, rangeland, and pasture. It is unavoidable. As a result, FERC requires an Ag Mitigation Plan specific for each project that spells out general criteria to protect the integrity of the soils during and after construction. Landowners should know the details of this plan before signing their lease agreement. Here are some loopholes to be aware of:
Woodland is not mentioned in the areas to have topsoil separated in the AMP. You should spell this out in your lease agreement - especially if you plan to plant crops on the ROW in the future.
Decompaction (ripping) may not be required in woodland areas in the restoration process- before or after topsoil restored. Make sure this is a requirement.
Decompaction after topsoil is restored is not required - you should specify this - especially in areas where travel lanes get compacted again with lots of pickup activity.
Decompaction of subgrade may not be required directly over the installed pipe. They may cite safety concerns. You can make this a requirement in your lease - spell it out.
There are usually no specific seeding details after restoration. You should have this in your individual lease agreement - seeding type, rate, mulch, fertilizer amount, etc.
During construction, in rolling terrain, your subsoil will get graded and regraded and shoved into windrows along the topsoil windrow. Then, after the pipe is in, this windrow will be spread out again, hopefully to the same elevations as before. The subgrade will get beat up and driven on in all types of wet weather by very heavy equipment. If you want this subgrade decompacted (it should be) before it is restored - put it in your lease. Subgrade, subsoil, and topsoil - all should have decompaction.
Where does the rock go? There are requirements for picking up rocks after subsoil is graded and before/after topsoil restoration. If you want these rocks disposed of on your land - specify it in your lease- where you want the rocks piled. Also - chances are they will bring in limestone for road entrances and temporary culverts - if you want this rock when they leave - put it in your agreement.
If you have livestock in a pasture where construction will occur - make sure they put up temporary fencing for you and a crossing area if needed. And - specify how long you want this fence up after construction. And - ask about what they will do with this fence when they take it down - it is often just trashed - ask for it.
Your topsoil will be stripped off and put in a windrow and protected by 1 foot of separation from any subsoil windrow. This is a FERC requirement. However, in some cases, they may need more space on the ROW and ask you and FERC for permission to shove the subsoil pile over onto the topsoil pile with some sort of barrier. You need to specify what type of barrier this will be (often just straw). Or put it in your lease - not to ever let this occur!
I am not against pipeline construction. We need good energy infrastructure to be self sufficient and not relying on other countries for energy. We need good guidelines for construction! Remember - if it is not required by FERC during construction - and it is not spelled out in your lease - it will not be done!