tv America Tonight Al Jazeera May 6, 2015 12:30am-1:01am EDT
surrounding the country align to decrease temperatures and increase snow fall. and you can seymour of our stories and reporting on the environment and the rest of the day's news on the website at aljazeera.com. hour. on "america tonight", the fight to stop fracking. >> we are talking about 12,000 lawrence river. i could not stand by people that stood up against a giant in their community and found themselves crushed by the law. also ahead - trouble in the neighbourhood. when the natural gas boom brings unwelcome newcomers. >> we are in america and want to know the five or six guys on here, you know who they are, we don't know. >> honestly, once we have a
court order we have no obligation to knock on the door adam may investigates the land grab under way in new york state and worries about what lies ahead. thanks for joining us, i'm joie chen, power, political and the resource variety can cause unintended consequences and controversy in many communities. we look at the impacts. in upstate new york where resident were powerless against the rule of eminent domain. it gives the government the right to take your property for the greater good of the community, and in some cases for the greater good of corporate interests. adam may found out what that means for neighbours when a pipeline comes to town. >> in the hills of central new york, tensions are running high. >> we are still in america. we want to know the five or six guys on here.
know. owners. the man on the right is a representative from the energy giant williams. >> i'm not trying to make your life difficult. it's fairness. >> we are not under any obligation to knock on the door once we have the court order. >> reporter: weeks ago part of their land, two acres next to their house, was taken by eminent domain. williams perhaps to bury a 30 much high pressure natural gas pipeline. this day the company began work, some on the grew showing up unannounced. >> it wasn't fun shocking the landowner. we handled them - you wouldn't with. >> i can imagine the anger and frustration, we are not aiming shotguns.
>> the land was taken to build the constitution pipeline. it's a huge project. running 124 miles through the villages, farm lands and forests of north-east pinedennsylvania and central new york. it will cross rivers and streams, requiring cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees. left behind will be a clear cut, in some places nearly half a football field wide. to build tonne state use, more than 100 landowners had their property taken against their will. none of them are happy. >> we are just getting, like nothing from anything. >> reporter: the constitution pipeline is a by-product of the controversial practice known as fracking. with all the new natural gas produced, energy companies have been building pipelines at a fever pitch. since 2002, more than 100,000
miles of gas pipelines have been built in america. seizing private properties over the objection of landowners has become commonplace. so how is this allowed? under a little known federal law daying back from the 1930s, private pipeline companies have the right of eminent domain. >> you're being a good buy. >> ann and bob stack had some of their land taken by constitution as well. for them it likely means the end of their retirement dreams. >> it is hereby ordered that constitution pipeline company llc has a substantive right to condemn, and there's a power land. >> how did you get it of. >> electronically, you get it on the computer. there it is. they win, we lose. >> this is the beginning of the property on the roadside. >> three years ago the stacks
moved back east from nevada. intending to build a retirement home on a lot next to jon anik's brother -- ann's brother. they started working with a builder, whose eco-friendly home they have been reading about. >> within days of reaching new york, the stacks got a letter informing them the pipeline would run within 75 feet of the home side. >> the pipeline is here. working. >> we run into constitution's survey teams everywhere. they were at the stacks. showing up without notice. >> all this will be bulldozed over, basically. >> yes, yes. >> reporter: can you believe it is happening? >> no. last night i had nightmares, and it's surreal. surreal.
>> reporter: where are we standing now? >> right now we are standing on a site where we planned to build the home on the field. >> instead we are looking at a survey team. >> it puts a knot in my stomach to see the people on my land, to do something i don't want them to do. >> reporter: to give you an idea of what the stacks are facing. this is a pipeline built in pennsylvania in 2012. the distance between the pipe and the house is about the distance between constitution and the stacks home site. >> will you guys build here, and put in the pipeline there. >> there's no way i want to build on the spot with a pipeline going through. >> the bill will be gone. >> reporter: the stacks say with the power of eminent domain, williams, the company-building
constitution doesn't have to reroute the pipeline around the property or fairly compensate them for their loss. >> we thought we owned the land. now we earn we own it as long as it doesn't suit a more powerful entity, ie corporate america. >> reporter: constitution will say we made a fair offer and have a legal right to do this. >> what is fair about destroying our land, permanently destroying it. break. go away, go far away. >> reporter: so this is one of the landowners. >> it is, yes. >> reporter: mike gauci is with the williams company and says more than 500 landowners willingly netted with the company and -- negotiated with the company and got good tiles. -- deals. this gun club is an example. go?
>> about 300m from where we are. >> reporter: the pipeline runs along the range, nearly 200 feet. neither will say how much was agreed upon, the club president . >> many times we pay two, three, four times as much as the appraised value to have the pipeline on their value. >> reporter: if they don't want to take the money you exercise enterprise domain. >> that is the last resort. >> reporter: before the regulators allow pipeline companies to exercise eminent domain, they are supposed to take steps to limit the impact on landowners. they have done that, adjusting the original route by 50%. hour, making adjustments doesn't necessarily mean moving the pipeline off one's property. >> one couple we spoke to planned to build a house on a piece of property for retirement. the pipeline will run through
the building 9/11. is that fair? >> at this stage, we worked for three years with the landowners. we negotiated with them. notifying all landowners. at some stage we have to get to a point where the project will move on because it is to the benefit of the community. at some stage we have the make the decisions. >> reporter: so some people will be losers in the benefit. >> i wouldn't say that. i think - i'm not putting words benefit. >> it's hard to see the benefit in losing cherished land. for others, the pipeline could be a matter of life and death. >> reporter: it really literally looked like a war zone. >> we'll look closely at the constitution pipeline and the threat to the upstate new york community.
"america tonight"s adam may in the next segment. on the trouble that lies below ground as well. later, when the bomb in energy leads to a trade off, a deal and the unintended consequences for a community's rights and what is hot on "america tonight"s website. who is protected by the law? >> the baltimore unrest exposes old anger and raises new questions about the officer's bill of rights. that's at aljazeera.com/americatonight. >> compass with sheila macvicar >> compass will challenge the way you look at the world >> a different look at foreign affairs >> talking about big subjects >> first hand... >> telling human stories >> giving you a real look at the world today. desperate, hungry and risking it all... >> these people wanna get as far away as they can >> the migrant crisis sweeping europe, are governments turning their backs on those that need help the most? >> compass with sheila macvicar
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as angry as some property owners in upstate new york are over having a pipeline forced on the community and land for it taken from them, many turned the concern to the future, and a lesson from the part. "america tonight"s adam may picks up the story of a pipeline and how a tragedy nearly 25 years ago makes it a more explosive issue now. >> we just so overwhelming. >> reporter: at this point in their lives, dan and laura jean thought they'd be taking it easy. instead, as members of the group stop the pipeline, fighting constitution has become a full-time job. >> rules of practice, the united states district court. if you don't print it on the paper with the exact margins - seriously, it tells you in here - they throw it out. >> reporter: for nearly 40 years they are lived in the hills of davenport new york, in a home built by hand.
now, some two acres of their land has been taken through eminent domain. as mad as they are about that, they are worried about something even more serious. their personal safety. do you feel like you could be living in danger? >> absolutely, yes. >> reporter: they took us to a spot that concerns them most - a stream on a road in front of their house. the pipeline is set to go above us and underneath a stream. >> yes, under the stream. >> reporter: what have you seen stream. >> this stream here has overflowed the banks where we stand here, totally washed out the road. >> reporter: they say they'll bury the pipeline 2-4 feet under ground. have you seen the washout sustainer than that. >> much steeper, 6-8 feet. >> reporter: what do you think will happen? out. >> reporter: it's not just idle speculation.
little more than three weeks ago not one, but two williams pipelines ruptured in west virginia, damaged by high water at a stream crossing. several nearby home owners were forced to flee. no one was injured. others haven't been so lucky. in the last 20 years, nearly 400 people have been killed in pipeline accidents. when you first pulled into town after the accident, what did it look like to you? >> it really literally looked like a war zone. the entire upper village was charred remains. >> the town is not far from constitution's path, a pipeline crossing through blend am, carrying liquid propane from texas to upstate new york. coming down from the hills, the pipeline cuts through gail schaefer's farm. 25 years ago, as her father was about to feed his cattle he noticed something unusual.
>> my father new significantly when he saw the gas, he knew what it was. >> you saw it rising. >> it's visible. >> what did he do. >> he ran and called the company. they told him it was dangerous, to get out. that's when the line went dead and the explosion occurred. >> reporter: somehow the pipeline cracked. schaefer expect it might have been damaged by men working on it earlier. as a result, an enormous cloud of propane drifted half a mile downhill towards main street blenan. what ignited it, a spark of electricity, a cigarette tossed from a car, no one knows. two people were killed that day, including an assistant the fire chief, who warned people to get away. the town hall is named in his honour. it could have been worse. just minutes before the explosion, a school bus packed with kids drove right through the center of town.
at the time gail schaefer was the secretary of state of new york. >> in fact some fire investigators from my office at the time had been in vietnam and said that the way that the windows caved in was like the effect of a nooepon bomb. >> reporter: does that worry you living close though that, knowing what happened. >> it does, i refer to it as a sleeping giant. giant. when you talk about pipeline safety, i tell people it's an oxi-moron, it's not that save. >> reporter: a point reinforced by two accidents with the same pipeline in 2004. in 2004 an explosion destroyed a home. in 2010, a leak caused an evacuation. by the way, the company that built this pipeline also took domain. >> is there a way that the folks can stop it at this point?
>> it's difficult. the power is all on the petrochemical injury side. >> mike is an executive with the williams company. williams delivers almost one-third of the natural gas used in the united states. williams has been cited numerous times for safety violations and fined for not adequately maintaining and inspecting the lines. what guarantee to you deliver to people that makes it safe? >> every day we deliver gas to run the country. yes, there are issues, but we are doing everything to make maintained. >> we visited a home owner that lives near a creek that washed out the home. can you build a pipeline safely through an hear that is washed out like that. >> we can. >> can it withstand the water.
>> yes, we make the assessments on the instruct ability on the area -- construct ability on the area. >> reporter: the courts have recalled against the magnollis and the agency that builds the pipelines endorsed constitution. in a trip they took to washington d.c., the new york senior senator chuck schumer didn't show up for a scheduled meeting. in the meantime the juggernaut rolls along. now the brignolis and neighbours have a letter from yet another company saying it, too, intend to run another pipeline through their property the debate and anger over pipelines is likely to grow louder. the natural gas industry expects to build 450,000 more miles in
the pipeline in this country in the next 25 years. and the land needed for it may have to be taken through the same right as eminent domain next, a controversial trade deal, and how it led a community's will to be crushed by the growing power of an energy boom. we'll take on another power problem wednesday on "america tonight". the surprising opposition to an alternative energy source. when the political winds threaten to grind power to a halt. "america tonight"s michael oku texas wednesday on "america tonight". >> sunday. >> my idea of a fun night out? a bit of anarchy! >> punk legend, john lydon. >> my weapons are words, not bullets and bombs. >> turning childhood anger... >> i was left-handed and the nuns seen that as a sign of the devil. >> into hit music. >> it's a perfect introduction into becoming a sex pistol. >> every sunday night. >> i lived that character.
[ ♪♪ ] the unexpected impact in the boom of the energy business can extend beyond borders and behind closed doors. a canadian community found this out, certain they could band together to stop an environmental threat, they were caught in the cross-hairs of a gant international trade -- giant international trade deal and legal battle. >> we were talking about 12,000 fracking wells along the st. lauren river. something. i could not stand by. >> reporter: five years ago phillippe set out to meebleize fellow -- mobilize fellow citizens to stop fracking in native quebec. >> countries were given the go ahead to drill and frack st. lawrence valley without the
remote possibility of an environmental assessment. that infuriated people. we keep app eye op you. >> reporter: armed with flyers he and fellow activists travelled village to village gathering support. >> all we wanted was a moratorium to be imposed for one generation. >> reporter: a year later three generations of his family, his son and 77-year-old father set out on a cirque de-sol eil march. >> your son made the puppets. >> yes, he made the puppets and the props. it was useful in making sure that people saw saw us >> reporter: with nearly 18,000 marchers closing in on mont
rsh, the quebec parliament passed a bill mapping fracking below the st. lawrence river. >> we are happy about that, that's how the democracy should work. >> reporter: it didn't last long lone pine hours, a calgary based company lost out when some permits were revoked under the ban, without compensation. lone pipe was based in canada, but was a subsidiary of a u.s. corporation, giving it the right to sue the canadian government under a provision of n.a.f.t.a., the amount of the lawsuit a jaw dropping $250 million. >> there's a provision in n.a.f.t.a. allowing foreign investigators to sue government for adopting policies or legislation that harmed the value of their investment. the investors disputes don't
play out in a domestic court. they are arbitrated behind closed doors by a 3-member time. >> the lawyer told us: . >> they lost on their bet and demanded $250 million, and the authority that will give it to them is a tribunal that sits atop my government. they are not elected up there. >> reporter: and it's not only n.a.f.t.a. that let's multinational corporations sue government in closed door tribunals, the provision exists in thousands of investment and trade agreements, and the tendency to use it exploded in recent years. >> corporations like exxonmobile and sev ron are using the investor state system to change
climate and clean energy. they are winning too. elana heads the responsible trade programme. one of many voices warning about the chilling effect that the dispute could have on government regulations. the symbol that it spends is when a government puts in place at the state and local level, they are vulnerable to costly trade cases. that is the chilling, that governments will think twice about whether they put in place public interest policies. >> which is why a former quebec environment minister questions the motives behind lone pine's suit. >> i do think that the lawsuit by posture. >> it's no coincidence it that
lone pine's suit canada, within months of him introducing a bill that would have expanded the fracking ban. >> they wanted to apply pressure, they want the government to fear and to say that they - to be influenced by this lawsuit. >> reporter: canada is for from the only country sued under trade deals. the united states has been sued 11 times under n.a.f.t.a. so far the u.s. won every case, vulnerable. >> this is absolutely good for not just american businesses but american workers congress is weighing whether to fast-track two monster trade deals likely includingors -- including two investor matters nations. >> reliability of the united
states will go up if we sign this partnership with the investor state because of the sheer number of corporation that is would have access to this new system. of corporate rites the n.a.f.t.a. tribunal has yet to decide the lone pine case. phillippe believes it should serve as a warning for any nation wanting to rush through a trade agreement without reading the fine print. >> these things lock you in for generations. there's no hurry or urgency. >> reporter: a warning that comes from a small community to the worm, and international -- world and international powers. that's "america tonight". tell us what you think at aljazeera.com/americatonight. talk to us on twitter or facebook. come back. we'll have more of "america tonight" tomorrow.
[ ♪♪ ] the war in yemen reaches saudi arabia's borders, schools and airports shut after shelling by houthi rebels. welcome to al jazeera, live from our headquarters in doha. i'm elizabeth puranam. also ahead - free at last. survivors recall their experiences after spending months in boko haram a lucky escape for desperate