Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some answers to commonly asked questions relating to our mission at WEAT:
Q: What can WEAT do for landowners who join?
- WEAT can act as a "buffer" between landowners and Enbridge when the company approaches them, by taking Enbridge's calls, etc. Once you have told Enbridge that you belong to WEAT, they should not contact you any further and all communications should be sent to WEAT’s legal team so that you do not have to worry about Enbridge.
- WEAT will keep landowners abreast regarding if, and when, it may eventually be necessary to negotiate with Enbridge over a new easement for their property.
- If a new easement is unavoidable, WEAT will work to negotiate the best terms and best price for the easement (see "Things to Consider Before Signing a Pipeline Easement").
Q: What are things that WEAT CANNOT offer?
- In order to keep WEAT affordable, WEAT cannot provide you with copies of your land records, easement documents, etc. Please obtain this from the attorney who helped you when you acquired your land, or through your County Register of Deeds Office.
- If an easement or sale is inevitable, WEAT will strive to obtain for each landowner the best settlement possible. However, WEAT cannot promise extended, complex negotiations with Enbridge to reach the "perfect settlement" that will please every landowner.
- WEAT cannot represent a landowner if, and when, Enbridge begins eminent domain proceedings. These are usually expensive and lengthy endeavors requiring extended individual attention and involvement of the courts. WEAT will be happy to refer you to an attorney who has experience in eminent domain issues, which is highly recommended as this is a specialized area of law. Note: Wisconsin law can require the party seeking eminent domain to pay some of the landowner's legal costs.
Q: How can WEAT provide help to landowners at a low price?
- Brian Jorde has accomplished many successful yet inexpensively priced efforts for landowners in Nebraska, protecting their land against the Keystone pipeline. He has extensive experience in property law. [See Document on Brian Jorde, Attorney at Law]. He is offering his expertise to WEAT for much less remuneration than other attorneys could and would ordinarily charge, because he believes in the rights of people in regard to their own land. Not only that, as an attorney with expertise in property law, Mr. Jorde would be able to identify and deal with crucial elements more quickly than attorneys who are less familiar with property law.
- There is a limit to what WEAT can and will do (see above).
- "Economies of scale" make a difference. Let's say that landowners might be eventually pushed to begin negotiation with Enbridge over new easements or new easement terms: In that case, WEAT would provide basic easement negotiations between a landowner and Enbridge to come up with a fair settlement. Although the legal description, size, and details of each landowner's land is unique, there will be some things in common among easement agreements that make it more efficient for an attorney to carry out negotiations between individual landowners and Enbridge, when doing so for a large number of individual landowners. That being said, each landowner may have special requests to protect certain valued elements (e.g. a special 200 year old tree), which will be addressed in the negotiations with Enbridge.
Q: What if I already have an attorney?
- If you have a previously established relationship with an attorney (e.g. for your will, estate, etc.) it is reasonable to let them know you are joining WEAT and why. Having your own attorney work with you, rather than WEAT, is your decision of course, but we encourage you to work with an attorney experienced in the field.
- If you have already contacted an attorney for the express purpose of having them deal with Enbridge, it is reasonable to have a forthright conversation with them about your interest in WEAT.
Q: Once I have joined WEAT, what can I expect and what do I need to do?
- You will be given a step-by-step list and approximate timeline of what we expect as Enbridge pushes its pipeline plans forward; please review and share with family members as appropriate and write down any questions you have.
Q: How can I contact WEAT personnel with my questions?
- If your question or concern is not covered in these FAQs or elsewhere on the website, you can send us an email through the Contact Us section of this site.
Q: What information should I have on hand about my easement?
- If you are a landowner who has one or more existing easements with Enbridge, you should have a copy of the easement(s) and this is essential to have. If you do not have, you should check with the County Register of Deeds office or with the attorney or law firm who represented you when you acquired the property. The language in the easement(s) is very important in any negotiation and can vary greatly from one property to another.
Q: What should I do if an Enbridge representative knocks on my door and wants to come in and talk, or telephones me to talk?
- You do NOT have to speak with them in person or by phone, nor invite them into your home. You should ask for the representative's name and position with Enbridge, ask them for identification if in person, and politely state that you do not wish to speak to them.
- You should advise them to call your attorney, who is with the Wisconsin Easement Action Team, and give them the number to call. You do NOT have to give them ANY other information.
Q: What if I see someone on my property whom I do not know?
- Enbridge employees or others working on the company's behalf have sometimes come onto landowner's property and looked around or taken photos and even began surveying. For any uninvited person on your land, you have a right to ask them questions. [CAUTION: Use your own judgment, as usual, in deciding whether to interact with a stranger who may be on your land for any reason].
- We recommend you politely ask the person for their name, that they show you ID, and ask what they are doing on your land. Sometimes it is to your benefit to strike up a friendly conversation with an Enbridge employee or surveyor, express friendly curiosity about what is going on, and they may tell you useful things. Take notes immediately after you speak to the person. It may be helpful to other landowners and to WEAT's efforts to share what you learn with WEAT, so please consider this.
Q: Will WEAT Landowners receive periodic updates on the situation with Enbridge?
- Yes. WEAT will send out periodic updates for all affected landowners who joined WEAT, informing you of news on what Enbridge is doing, and activities of other Wisconsin landowners and communities as regards Enbridge's plans. There will be a Landowners ONLY section to this site for more confidential information. If you are a WEAT supporter but not an affected landowner you will not have access to the Landowner only portion of this site but will benefit from all other email and other updates.
Q: How can I learn more about eminent domain and landowner rights in Wisconsin?
- Here is a link to more information: Things to Consider