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Mountain Valley Pipeline Bad For State

By Staff | Nov 17, 2017

A November 2016 state Supreme Court ruling said West Virginia law would not allow Mountain Valley Pipeline to use state eminent domain to survey pipeline routes without permission from landowners. In response, MVP asked the WV Legislature to overturn the ruling – but the requested measure never made it out of the House Committee.

Nevertheless last month, completely ignoring West Virginia’s decision, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a certificate which gave MVP federal eminent domain powers to take private property for the project. The MVP legal filings say the company is entitled to rights-of-way of 50 feet in width as well as permanent and temporary roads for the 300-mile pipeline.

Meanwhile, a decision by the WV DEP to waive West Virginia’s authority over the water quality impacts of the FERC certificate removed a major impediment for pipeline confiscation of West Virginia land.

Aided by this WV Department of Environmental Protection waiver, developers of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline are suing hundreds of landowners to gain eminent domain easements granted to MVP by federal approval.

In West Virginia, MVP has asked U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr., who has fossil-fuel interests that could be affected by his ruling, to schedule a hearing by Dec. 13 to access these properties and have the pipeline in operation by next November.

In 2015, though previously having recused himself in nearly all other energy-related cases, Copenhaver took a natural gas case-and without a hearing-ruled against WV counties’ authority to protect against WV DEP-permitted, yet grossly irresponsible, industry practices. Among these are the dumping of toxic, radioactive frack waste into drinking water sources.

In 2017 alone, there have been 24 serious U.S. pipeline accidents reported. One in Sissonville in 2012 destroyed all four lanes on I-77. The resulting fires often burn for hours before the gas can be shut off and the blast radius may be hundreds of feet. In addition, natural gas pipelines require extremely air-polluting compressor stations every 100 or less miles. The MVP is just one of many gas pipelines planned across Appalachia.

Barbara Daniels