The West Virginia Supreme Court has refused to let the Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP) survey landowners' property without their permission. The decision ruled in favour of a Monroe County couple who objected to pipeline surveyors who wanted access to their property.
MVP is the developer of a proposed 300 mile natural gas pipeline that would transport natural gas from Wetzel County (West Virginia) to another pipeline in Pittsylvania County (Virginia). The recent ruling will prevent the Mountain Valley pipeline developer from using eminent domain to build on private land.
Justices ruled that West Virginia’s domain laws apply to projects that have a public use. However, the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline does not specifically benefit West Virginia because the natural gas is not necessarily going to be used in the state.
The court case originated in 2015, when Bryan and Doris McCurdy, who own 185 acres of land along the proposed pipeline route, objected to requests by an MVP agent to conduct surveys. In August 2015, Robert Irons, a Monroe County Circuit Court Judge, ruled that the company had failed to prove that its project would provide sufficient public use. Therefore, he deemed that this was insufficient to justify entering private property without owners' permission.
Since then, MVP appealed, arguing that the survey work would not be invasive and that the pipeline itself would benefit locals.
Concurrently, two landowners have sued the company, stating that the pipeline would, largely, benefit only the private company and its investors.
"MVP has been unable to identify even a single West Virginia consumer or a West Virginia natural gas producer who is not affiliated with MVP, who will derive a benefit from MVP's pipeline," Justice Robin Jean Davis wrote.
He added that this ruling does not doom the pipeline.
At least one protester, who is currently contesting the Dakota Access pipeline, embraced this win. According to Color Lines, Dallas Goldtooth, a campaign organiser with the Indigenous Environmental Network, posted the decision on to social media yesterday with the words, “In other great news!”
The company now plans to use federal law to access to the property it needs to survey and build the pipeline through a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certification, which it has requested.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/business-news/17112016/court-stops-pipeline-developer-from-conducting-surveys/