Mountain Valley Pipeline files lawsuit to condemn 300 Virginian properties
- Developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have filed a lawsuit moving to condemn about 300 private properties and use eminent domain to acquire easements along the 300-mile route from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, the Roanoke Times reports.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project on Oct. 13 over the objections of landowners who say the agency is rubber-stamping project approvals and needs to conduct a closer environmental review.
- Opponents of the pipeline issued a statement following the lawsuit, saying they expect to prove developers have shown negligence and irresponsibility, and are "seeking eminent domain for private gain."
Backers of Mountain Valley are moving forward quickly with the project, filing for eminment domain just two weeks after FERC signed off on the project.
The pipeline will be constructed and owned by Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, which is a joint venture between EQT Midstream Partners; NextEra US Gas Assets; Con Edison Transmission; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream. EQT Midstream will operate the pipeline and own a significant interest in the joint venture.
The Roanoke Times reports the move to file suit against all of the landowners at once is generally considered standard. The company is trying to obtain one court order allowing it to move forward with development.
Mountain Valley Pipeline's lawsuit said the “condemnation is necessary because MVP has been unable to negotiate mutually agreeable easement agreements with landowners."
Bold Alliance organizer Carolyn Reilly is a landowner whose Four Corners Farm in Rocky Mount, Va., is on the proposed route. Reilly was among those who were served by Mountain Valley Pipeline with the eminent domain lawsuit.
“This latest strong-arm tactic of MVP, filing a lawsuit against individual property owners, abuses our rights as citizens of the United States," Reilly said in a statement.
According to Reilly, the pipeline developer has attempted to "intimidate and bully us,” speaking of the 300 landowners being sued. “We look forward to the court hearings as they will further prove the negligence, irresponsibility and greed of a for-profit corporation seeking eminent domain for private gain."
The Mountain Valley Pipeline was approved by FERC on a 2-1 vote. In approving the line, Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Robert Powelson rejected a broader, "programmatic" evaluation of pipeline necessity, writing that FERC acts specifically on individual applications. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur dissented, noting the similar routes, timing and demand centers served by the projects.
At the same time it approved the Mountain Valley project, FERC also approved the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as well. Dominion is developing ACP, which includes a 600-mile route, stretching from North Carolina into West Virginia, along with three planned compressor stations.
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