Judge says pipeline can't survey without eminent domain

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 11, 2015

UNION – A Monroe County judge says a developer can’t survey a couple’s property without permission.

Judge Robert Irons ruled last week that Mountain Valley Pipeline didn’t show enough proof that its natural gas pipeline project would provide enough public use to do the survey through eminent domain. A packed courtroom of about 100 people reacted with cheers and applause, according to media reports.

Bryan and Doris McCurdy of Greenville had sought the injunction with the help of attorneys from Appalachian Mountain Advocates. A spokeswoman for Mountain Valley Pipeline said the company will review the order.

The company plans a 300-mile pipeline to transport natural gas from Wetzel County to Virginia. Mountain Valley Pipeline is a joint venture of multiple energy companies including NextEra U.S. Gas Assets and EQT Midstream Partners.

Irons said he saw “very little benefit to the people of West Virginia” from the pipeline. A Mountain Valley Pipeline project manager, however, has said the company expects usage to develop in West Virginia after gaining approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Earlier this year, Mountain Valley Pipeline filed a federal lawsuit against West Virginia landowners seeking eminent domain. The defendants in that suit includes more than 100 property owners and three corporations in 10 counties.

A pipeline company is suing more than 100 landowners in West Virginia in an attempt to get access to their land, claiming that its proposed pipeline has the right of eminent domain.

In the suit, Mountain Valley Pipeline says “it is necessary to enter the respondents’ properties to survey (in order to obtain) necessary rights-of-way, obtain a FERC certificate and construct the pipeline.” It says all of the property owners “failed or refused to permit” the company to enter their properties.

Monroe Circuit Court case number: 15-C-19

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