Category Archives: Court cases

ACP Granted Access for Tree Cutting


On Thursday March 1, 2018, Judge Moon, of the US Western District of Virginia Federal Court in Lynchburg, granted ‘immediate access’ for tree-felling on 16 of the 27 Virginia properties for which Dominion requested access. Notice issues, meaning parties were not served the lawsuits or did not have adequate time to respond, prevented Moon from ruling on the 11 remaining properties, but he expects “proper notice to be achieved” in the next two weeks.

None of the landowners have signed easement agreements, and just compensation for their land must still be decided in court.

Moon wrote, “These harms, and the harms that the unrepresented Landowners will face, are real. … The Landowners’ harms must be balanced with the equally real harms that ACP will face if its construction is delayed. I find the balance of the equities tips in ACP’s favor.'”

“We will be responsible stewards of their land, and we’ll continue working with them to minimize impacts on their property and daily lives”, said Dominion’s Aaron Ruby. Why are we not reassured by Mr. Ruby’s statement?

Read the Lynchburg News & Advance press coverage here.

Nelson Couple Grants ‘Immediate Access’ for ACP

The Lynchburg News & Advance reported on February 27, 2018, that, “Hours before their case was scheduled to go before a federal judge, Will and Lilia Fenton, owners of the Nelson County-based Fenton Inn, reached an understanding with Atlantic Coast Pipeline, allowing the project ‘immediate access’ to their property.” Fenton said they decided to allow ACP immediate access because “we didn’t think there would be any positive results for going to court [for] this particular [issue],” and added that the access understanding should not be a reflection on his family’s feelings about the pipeline, and that they have fought both the pipeline from its inception, especially the concept of eminent domain.

The News & Advance article also reported that other cases were argued in federal court in Lynchburg on Monday and Tuesday. “Lawyers representing the landowners and ACP attorneys questioned a handful of witnesses Monday and Tuesday, focusing on why ACP would need immediate access to the properties in question; potential harm to landowners; and how the easement negotiation process works, including how ACP determines the compensation it offers landowners for temporary and permanent rights of way.”

In the hearing, ACP witnesses discussed the land acquisition and appraisel processes, as well as the “irreparable harm” the ACP would suffer if not allowed to proceed. Landowners testified about the harm to their properties and businesses.

Judge Moon had not issued an opinion as of February 27, but said he hoped to do so in the “next day or two.”

Read the full article here.

Bold Alliance Seeks Hearing to Challenge FERC on Eminent Domain

Press Release from Bold Alliance, February 26, 2017
Contact: Carolyn Reilly, Bold Alliance, 540-488-4358, carolyn@boldalliance.org

Bold Alliance Seeks Federal Court Hearing for Constitutional Challenge to FERC’s Abuse of Eminent Domain for Pipeline Permits

Washington D.C. — Bold Alliance and a collective of more than 50 landowners in the Appalachia region have filed a motion asking a federal court to schedule a date to hear oral arguments and expedite the proceeding in their lawsuit challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over its unconstitutional abuse of eminent domain in pipeline permitting.

Carolyn Reilly, a regional organizer with Bold Alliance stated: “We’re demanding that the justice system follow through and give we, the people, complete due process under the U.S. Constitution. We have explicitly and repeatedly declined to engage with these pipeline corporations seeking eminent domain for their private gain, and we deserve to be heard in court to defend our inalienable rights under the fifth amendment.”

Bold’s lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. against FERC and corporations backing the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines by landowners whose properties the projects would pass, challenges problems in the FERC certificate program that impact all landowners near all pipelines that seek to utilize eminent domain authority to take property against landowners’ wishes.

Bold’s motion filed today asks the court to expedite a hearing on the constitutional challenges in the case.

Separately, Bold Alliance late last week also filed motions requesting rehearings by FERC Commissioners of their issued notices to proceed for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Bold argues in the motion that FERC’s granting of a notice to proceed while challenges remain pending violates landowners’ due process rights. By issuing the notice to proceed, the motion argues that FERC has also created confusion for landowners, who may believe FERC’s order is the final say needed by MVP to proceed. When in fact, MVP has not yet gained possession of many parcels of land, and cannot commence construction on parcels that it has not yet acquired.

View the motion for expedited hearing requests for FERC rehearings by Bold Alliance (scroll down past the press release).

See background on landowners’ eminent domain lawsuit against FERC.

Condemnation Lawsuits on February 26, 2018


On February 19, 2018, the Washington Post reported that a federal judge refused to postpone the February 26, 2018, hearing in the ACP’s lawsuit seeking possession of properties in Augusta, Bath, Buckingham and Cumberland counties. Although the hearing was not postponed, the judge “ordered developers to turn over more information and gave property owners more time to respond.”

ALL of the cases from the Western District of Virginia will be heard by Judge Moon on February 26, 2018, at 9:30am, US District Court in Lynchburg, 1101 Court Street, room 370. This hearing includes all the condemnation lawsuits from Augusta, Bath, Buckingham, Cumberland, Highland, and Nelson. (The cases from the Eastern District of Virginia, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Nottoway , and Southampton, will be heard elsewhere.)

If you are able to attend the hearing in Lynchburg, the Fentons (Nelson property owners being sued) and other property owners will appreciate your support. Show up and pack the courtroom.  Please – no signs, no “No Pipeline” t-shirts, no cell phones in the courtroom.

There will be an alternative space across the street from the courthouse (at First Unitarian Church of Lynchburg, 313 Ninth St) open for people to gather and unify our fight across counties. Bold Appalachia and the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition will have snacks and refreshments available starting at 9AM and continuing throughout the day for anyone resisting the pipeline.

In Charlottesville, federal court officials have announced that they are making a video feed available at the Charlottesville federal courthouse for public viewing of the Lynchburg hearing on pipeline condemnation cases.  Interested members of the public may attend.

Of the 38 Western District of Virginia condemnation lawsuits that have been filed by ACP between January 1 and February 19, 2018, 31 were filed in January and 7 in February (through February 19):

  • Augusta: 17
  • Bath: 1
  • Buckingham: 10
  • Cumberland: 3
  • Highland: 5
  • Nelson: 2

Of these cases, five have since been dismissed, presumably because the parties settled on easement terms. (3 in Augusta, 2 in Highland). At this time it also appears that the case against Wintergreen is NOT on the 2/26 docket.

Additionally, there have been:

  • 9 cases filed in the Eastern District of Virginia (one of which has since been dismissed).
  • 16 cases filed in the East District of N. Carolina
  • 3 cases in West Virginia (one of which has since been dismissed.)

Since January first of this year, ACP has filed a total of 66 condemnation lawsuits in Federal Court.

Wintergreen Sued by Dominion


On February 9, 2018, the ACP filed suit against Wintergreen Property Owners Association (WPOA) to seize property by eminent domain. Suit was filed in federal court to take “immediate possession” of 7.5 acres to construct its 42-inch natural gas pipeline.

Jay Roberts, Executive Director of WPOA released the following statement:

“Dominion Energy notified Wintergreen Property Owners’ Association (WPOA) that, based on the legal authority given to it by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), it was filing suit in Federal court on Friday, February 9 for condemnation of WPOA property. WPOA has repeatedly and publicly stated our opposition to the location of the pipeline. However, based on the law of eminent domain and the history of these cases in Federal Court, we expect that a court of law will grant the access necessary for the project to proceed.

“We respect the legal process and are focused on addressing the concerns of our owners through Dominion’s agreement to participate in a formal mediated process that will include the financial and non-financial implications placed on the community by the presence of the pipeline. WPOA is committed to the best possible outcome for our community; one that provides fair treatment and security for our owners, employees and guests.”