Suit Could Block Pipelines on Constitutional Grounds
A Virginia law firm has filed the first suit against pipeline construction on constitutional grounds. Gentry Locke is asking a judge to prevent the federal government from approving the Mountain Valley Pipeline until their case can be heard.
The fifth amendment to the constitution is very clear, and attorney Justin Lugar plans to use it in federal district court to stop pipeline builders from taking land through eminent domain. He reads the operative line:
“Private property shall not be taken except for public use and with just compensation.”
In the case of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, he’s not convinced the public will benefit.
“Our view is that this thing is needed so that MVP and its owners can ship their gas to market and make as much money as possible," Lugar says. "It’s not about a public use or a public purpose.”
He will also argue that the Natural Gas Act – which allows the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to convey the power of eminent domain to private companies-- goes against the intent of the fifth amendment.
But first things first. Lugar, who represents several unhappy landowners, will ask the court to block any decision from FERC until the case is decided.