- Attorneys from the Virginia law firm Gentry Locke have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Roanoke Division, challenging Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's eminent domain authority.
- Along with the complaint, a motion for preliminary injunction asks the court to prevent FERC from granting the pipeline developer the power of eminent domain.
- The 300-mile pipeline is being developed by EQT Midstream, and would transport natural gas through Virginia and West Virginia.
Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are turning to the courts to protect their property, even before FERC approves it, something the commission is too short-handed to do.
Lead attorney Justin Lugar said the lawsuit “marks an important day not only for landowners in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline but for all Americans ... that value our constitutional right to be secure in our property.”
According to the Roanoke Times, the lawsuit includes 17 plaintiffs with 10 properties along the route.
Mountain Valley is targeting a late 2018 in-service date. EQT will operate the pipeline and own a significant interest, along with NextEra US Gas Assets, Con Edison Transmission, WGL Midstream, and RGC Midstream. The pipeline is designed to provide up to 2 million dekatherms per day of firm transmission capacity to markets in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions of the United States.
Plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the pipeline developer has already violated their federal and state constitutional rights by taking property from landowners while performing surveying activities.
Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur — currently the only commission member — is also named in the lawsuit. FERC will need three commissioners to issue a decision on whether to approve the pipeline. In June, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 20-3 to approve both Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to serve as FERC commissioners. But it is unclear when a decision on Mountain Valley could come.
The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is in a similar position. FERC staff recently issued a favorable Final Environmental Impact Statement for the 600-mile natural gas project. The pipeline would move fracked natural gas from West Virginia into North Carolina and Virginia, and includes three planned compressor stations. It is being developed by Dominion Energy, but the company is in limbo waiting for the U.S. Senate to confirm commission members.