WV Landowners in Path of Mountain Valley Pipeline Get Important Court Victory

From Downstream, Fall 2015, the newsletter of the Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River.

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by Ben Luckett, Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River Board Member

As we reported in our last newsletter, FOLGR and many other groups around the state continue to oppose the two  42-inch pipelines that are proposed to carry fracked gas from drilling areas in northern West Virginia and adjacent states, through the Greenbrier River watershed on to Virginia and North Carolina.

In August, landowners in the proposed path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) claimed a major victory in Monroe County court. After receiving letters informing them that they were required to grant access to their land for pipeline construction surveys, a group of concerned landowners sued MVP to establish their right to exclude the company from their property.

Under West Virginia law, a company wishing to construct a pipeline must demonstrate that the pipeline will be in the “public use” before it may conduct surveys without a landowner’s permission. Attorney Derek Teaney of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, appearing pro bono on behalf of the landowners, argues that the MVP would not be in the public use because it proposed only to carry gas from one distant location to another without offering service to local residents.

A packed courtroom full of pipeline opponents cheered Judge Robert A. Irons when he ruled in favor of the residents. Judge Irons, who is the WV Circuit Court Judge for Monroe and Summers Counties, held that MVP had not demonstrated that its pipeline will be in the public use, as required by West Virginia law.

This is far from the last round in what is sure to be a long battle to protect the water quality and community character in our beloved Greenbrier River watershed. FOLGR has joined with other local and regional groups to raise awareness about the threats posed by the proposed pipelines. In June, FOLGR signed on during the commenting phase for the MVP proposal. We asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency responsible for authorizing pipeline construction and granting the power of eminent domain, to take a hard look at a wide range of possible environmental harms and safety concerns in the Environmental Impact Statement that the agency is currently preparing for the MVP.

Please keep an eye on your emails and FOLGR’s Facebook page for more updates and opportunities to get involved in efforts to protect our watershed from these dangerous industrial developments.

Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River webpage.

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