Virginia Landowners file constitutional case against FERC & Mountain Valley Pipeline

Jan 6, 2020

Word is the Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline is that the project is nearly complete, but construction remains on hold for the winter and several environmental permits are still in limbo. Last week, landowners in the pipeline’s path filed a lawsuit against the company and the Federal Energy Regulatory commission, challenging the constitutionality of a practice known as ‘eminent domain.’

"Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights," (POWHR) is an interstate coalition representing individuals and groups from counties in Virginia and West Virginia dedicated to protecting the water, local ecology, heritage, land rights, human rights of individuals, communities and regions from harms caused by the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

The lawsuit calls into question what the plaintiffs call, eminent domain for private gain, when private companies are granted the right to take private property for public use. The law requires "just" compensation to be given to the original owner.

"The question is w appears to be whether or not FERC actually has the constitutional authority to delegate that power."

Russell Chisholm is co-chair of a group called the Power Coalition, based in Giles county, that fights to protect water and land rights.

"Remember that MVP had to sue over 300 landowners to force eminent domain and condemnation on their properties. So there's a number of people in our communities that are still fighting and have been fighting all along."

The Mountain Valley Pipeline would transport natural gas from the Marcellus shale 300 miles through Virginia.  Construction began two years ago with a cost estimate of $3.7 billion with a completion date in late 2018, the company now projects it to be as much as 5.5 billion with a completion date expected late at the end of this year.

" I think the builders would like people to believe that everyone has just folded up their tents and called it a day. But here are these three families that are really willing to step up and challenge it again. I think they have a really good chance."

Spokeswoman for Mountain Valley Pipeline, Natalie Cox, has said she cannot comment on the landowners pending litigation.