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Rockies Express Pipeline LLC v. 77.620 acres more or less

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD DIVISION


August 20, 2008

ROCKIES EXPRESS PIPELINE LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
77.620 ACRES MORE OR LESS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff Rockies Express Pipeline LLC ("REX") has filed a "Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Immediate Possession" [d/e 390]. The motion is granted.

REX is constructing a pipeline through portions of the Midwest. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted REX a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity ("FERC Certificate"), and this court recently confirmed REX's substantive right to condemn the property at issue in this litigation. REX now seeks a preliminary injunction for immediate possession of the land at issue.

"Numerous courts have held that upon satisfaction of the standard for injunctive relief, authorized pipeline companies holding FERC certificates may be granted immediate possession of property to be condemned prior to a determination of just compensation therefor to permit the commencement of construction on the pipeline." Guardian Pipeline, LLC v. 295.49 Acres of Land, 2008 WL 1751358, *21 (E.D. Wis. Apr. 11, 2008) (collecting cases); Guardian Pipeline, LLC v. 950.80 Acres of Land, 210 F. Supp. 2d 976, 979 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (collecting cases). Possession is proper where preliminary injunction standards are met. Guardian Pipeline, 210 F. Supp. 2d at 979. Thus, REX must show (1) irreparable harm in the absence of the injunction, (2) a likelihood of success on the merits, (3) the balance of harms favors him; and (4) the public interest favors the injunction. N. Border Pipeline Co. v. 64.111 Acres of Land, 125 F. Supp. 2d 299, 301 (N.D. Ill. 2000). Further, "[t]he more likely the plaintiff is to win, the less heavily need the balance of harms weigh in his favor . . . ." Id.

In this case, as in many other FERC Certificate cases, these standards are easily met. See, e.g., id. The FERC Certificate, combined with this Court's prior confirmation order, mean that "it is virtually certain that plaintiff will succeed on the merits." Id. Further, considerations of public interest clearly support the construction of the pipeline. Any countervailing private interests are minor in comparison. Finally, REX has demonstrated irreparable harm since, without immediate possession, construction will be delayed and the FERC time line will be adversely impacted. Id.

Ergo, having assessed these factors, the Court GRANTS REX's motion for a preliminary injunction [d/e 390]. REX is entitled to immediate possession of the right-of-ways described in the Complaint and attached exhibits.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Richard Mills United States District Judge

20080820

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