Category Archives: Eminent Domain

Letter to Landowners on Nelson County ACP Route

Friends of Nelson has sent the following letter and invitation to Nelson County landowners on the ACP route:

Dear Landowner,

Do you have questions about eminent domain?

How the compensation amounts for landowners are determined?

What the legal process in eminent domain cases is?

What the timing of events is most likely to be?

What you can do to fight for your land?

What happens now?

If you have ever wondered about any of the above then please join Friends of Nelson, and lawyers from Appalachian Mountain Advocates for an informative Landowner Meeting on Thursday, August 3rd at 7pm, at the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Afton.

The guest speaker will be Chris Johns, a prominent Texas attorney who has not only handled many jury trials on pipeline cases but also teaches eminent domain and private-property rights at the University of Texas School of Law. He has created a primer on eminent domain and will be present to talk about the process of eminent domain and answer your questions on the subject.

Landowners who have property on the pipeline route or on an access roads are invited and encouraged to attend.

If you have any questions about this meeting please do not hesitate to contact Randy Whiting at 434-529-7247.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

NPR Pipeline Analysis

Natural Gas Building Boom Fuels Climate Worries, Enrages Landowners is a lengthy and well-researched NPR Morning Edition piece, the result of a six-month investigation into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and its handling of the gas pipeline building boom. The report discusses the multiple pipelines proposed in the last several years (including the MVP and ACP), the dysfunctionality of FERC, the push by energy companies, and the push-back by pipeline opponents. The story was researched, written, and produced by the Center for Public Integrity, joining with StateImpact Pennsylvania and NPR.

Versions of the story also appear on the Center for Public Integrity and the StateImpact Web pages.

StateImpact Pennsylvania is a collaboration between WITF and WHYY, and covers the fiscal and environmental impact of Pennsylvania’s booming energy economy, with a focus on Marcellus Shale drilling – and Marcellus Shale drilling is what brings us the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. The Center for Public Integrity was founded in 1989 by Charles Lewis and is one of the country’s oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations.

Supreme Court of Virginia Hands Pipeline Foes Small Victory, But Project Rolls On

The Washington Post reported on July 13, 2017, that “The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled … on two cases related to the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, handing opponents a minor victory but otherwise leaving the huge project unscathed. The court found in favor of a small group of landowners in Buckingham County who said pipeline surveyors had not provided adequate notice before entering their property. Survey crews have since changed their practice, though, to give more specific information about timing.

“The other case was potentially far more sweeping, as a landowner [Hazel Palmer] challenged whether an out-of-state utility has the right to enter property for surveys or to seize property under eminent domain. Although the natural gas pipeline project is largely controlled by Richmond-based Dominion Energy, the partnership that is building it is registered in Delaware.

“The court ruled that state law permits the survey work but said the plaintiffs had waited too late in the legal process to raise the issue of eminent domain, or property seizure. One expert said that could leave the door open for someone to pursue the eminent domain question, because the state constitution contains language prohibiting any outside company from exercising ‘the powers or functions of a public service enterprise.'”

Read the full article here.

A Pipeline Allegory

A letter to the Roanoke Times from Georgia Haverty:

Once there was a Stranger who walked into my house. I told him to leave, but he told me that he had made a deal with the rulers of the Land, and they had told him he could walk into any house he liked.

The Stranger then took something precious from me. It was not worth very much, but had been handed down by my ancestors through the ages. The Stranger laughed when I tried to get it back, and said “Don’t worry; I will give you a coin for this object. I get to decide what it is worth… and to me it is not worth very much.” (To me, it was worth all the coins in the Land).

Before the Stranger walked out, he left a bomb on my kitchen table. “This is for you, as a parting gift. Your neighbors want and need this – they told me,” he lied. “Oh – one more thing” he said looking over his shoulder with a sneer – “you must leave this bomb in place forever more. If it goes off, don’t call me. I will be long gone from this Land, disguised and with a different name. You won’t find me. You will be responsible for anything that happens.”

The End.

In the Path of the Pipeline: C’ta DeLaurier

Dominion and Duke Energy will use eminent domain to take private property from landowners along the 600-mile route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In a new video from the Southern Environmental Law Center we hear the comments of C’ta DeLaurier, one of the people in the path of the pipeline. “This is just a land grab for a privately owned utility,” says DeLaurier. As the video reminds us, “Dominion and Duke Energy shareholders are guaranteed a 14% rate of return on their investment in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from the federal government. This amount of guaranteed money isn’t available anywhere – not even on Wall Street.”

The ACP Doesn’t Serve Virginian’s Best Interests

In a June 11, 2017, opinion piece in the Virginia Pilot, Michael J. Hirrel, a retired lawyer from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, discusses Dominion’s claim of “public necessity” for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a claim which would allow them to use eminent domain to seize private property for construction. He points out that, “Neither the consortium nor Dominion has ever pledged to the FERC or to the SCC that a Dominion energy plant would definitely use gas from the ACP. So how can the pipeline be a public necessity?”

Projections show demand for gas-generated electric power in Virginia to be flat for the foreseeable future, and even unexpected growth could be handled with adjustments to existing gas transport pipelines. “So perhaps Dominion doesn’t actually need the pipeline for its plants. Perhaps it’s hoping to sell the gas from the pipeline to export markets or to other industrial users.” If that’s the case it would (of course) bring profit to Dominion, but it would not be a public necessity and would not justify seizure of land by eminent domain. Furthermore, “If the export and industrial sales don’t pan out, the costs for the pipeline — $6 billion and rising — could be added to customers’ electric bills.”

Hirrel concludes that “every Virginian can get together behind one idea: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline doesn’t serve their best interests.”

Read the full article here.

Read earlier posts on our Web page about Mr. Hirrel’s 2016 requests that the Federal Trade Commission to investigate antitrust violations by Dominion and its partners: