On Friday, November 16th, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Dominion filed for Quick Take in the US Western District of Virginia Federal Court in Lynchburg. Quick Take takes away the constitutional right to due process for every defendant. It also usurps Congressional authority to make and change laws. Call your Senator and Congressional Representative and tell them to issue a statement telling the courts to stand down!
The video is a crash course explanation of Quick Take and Eminent Domain as it relates to gas pipelines and to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline specifically. Richard Averitt, Nelson County landowner, explains Quick Take in lay terms.
Dominion has just filed petitions for “quick take” against at least 21 Nelson landowners, who will now have to deal with making court filings and appearances during the holidays. Petitions were filed in the US Western District of Virginia Federal Court in Lynchburg.
“Quick take” is a formal process of the exercise of eminent domain in which the government (or in this case, a private for-profit company masquerading as a “public” utility) takes possession BEFORE any court ruling on compensation. In other words, Dominion wants access to begin work on these landowners’ properties BEFORE paying the landowners any money, and BEFORE all permits are in place to allow the ACP to begin construction. Some of the 21 landowners were completely unaware that Dominion had filed against them until the Friends of Nelson Landowner Liaison called them with the information. And some landowners had never even been served with notice of the ORIGINAL condemnation lawsuit, even though it had been filed with the court over a month ago!
Dominion loves filing lawsuits as holiday gifts. In the week before Christmas 2014 they began suing landowners who had refused permission for Dominion to survey their property. Dominion filed lawsuits against 27 Augusta County residents and 20 in Nelson County, requesting the court’s permission to enter the properties and survey potential Atlantic Coast Pipeline routes. Reporting on the filings, the Richmond Times Dispatch quoted Dominion officials, who, by the end of December 2014, expected “to file suit against 56 landowners in Augusta and 122 in Nelson. The court would then start serving notices during the first week of January, and those property owners would have three weeks to answer the complaint. A court date would then be set for hearings in each case.”
It is worth noting that a federal court in North Carolina has issued a stay against ACP’s attempt to acquire rights to a NC property by eminent domain, citing the fact that there are pending legal challenges to the ACP that could result in reexaminiation of the project (see story below). Further, last week in New York a state court ruled that a different pipeline company could not use eminent domain proceedings to cross a landowner’s property because the NY State Water Control had denied the permit for the project.
Listen to the latest End of the Line podcast, Episode 24, Harvest. Neal and Beth of Blackberry Botanicals take us on a walk through the woods, teaching us about medicinal plants in Appalachia, and how their recent experience with Mountain Valley Pipeline has changed their approach to fighting back.
People and Pipelines is a video series featuring people in the pathway of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – including Nelson County’s Richard Averitt. Through conducted research and on-site interviews, People and Pipelines is a platform for the histories and experiences of people most impacted by the construction of this pipeline. See their Web page for more information and other videos in the series.
Beth and Neil LaFerriere from Blackberry Botanicals in West Virginia spoke to the attendees at the second weekend of Spruce Creek Camp about their family and land’s repeated bombardment by helicopters with grass/fertilizer pellets.
Because of this unwarranted and illegal action, they will lose their farm’s organic certification for three years, severely affecting their chief source of income. Neil has posted this YouTube video version of their talk at Spruce Creek Camp.
The Roanoke Times reported on October 12, 2018, that flooding from rains the day before carried two 80-foot sections of pipe off the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s right of way onto Dale Angle’s land. The sections had been left in the right of way before being set in the nearby trench. “Both had clearly crossed a boundary line drawn earlier this year when Mountain Valley used its legal power of eminent domain to obtain an easement through Angle’s land, despite his fervent opposition.”
Although construction crews can do what then want on the easement, they must have permission to enter a landowner’s adjoining property.
“‘They called this morning wanting me to sign a permission slip’ that would allow company workers onto his property to retrieve two 80-foot sections of steel pipe that floated away, Angle said Friday. ‘I said I couldn’t do it right now. They’ve done destroyed enough of my property. I’m not going to let them do it again.'”
An MVP Spokesperson had few details about how the company might reclaim the lost pipe.