After two very long days of hearings in U.S. District Court in Roanoke (including an unusual Saturday session ending at 7:45 pm), Judge Elizabeth Dillon said she will decide later on Mountain Valley Pipeline’s federal lawsuit against hundreds of landowners in Virginia who have refused to discuss easement agreements that would allow the pipeline to cross their land. After receiving approval in October from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the MVP invoked its power of eminent domain to seek easements on nearly 300 pieces of private property that lie in the pipeline’s path — over the objections of affected landowners in the Roanoke and New River Valleys.
The October 17, 2017 Wilson Times reports that “”Wilson County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling for Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials to be more transparent in their dealings with property owners and local government when it comes to development and safety issues. Commissioners expressed reservations on several issues related to the pipeline project and its officials Tuesday, including a ‘development dead zone’ in Wilson County, full and complete disclosures and transparency in project planners’ dealings with property owners and the pipeline’s quality of construction and safety.
“Commissioner say ACP officials failed to inform property owners or local government that there is an ‘industry [effort] to create a “consultation planning zone” which extends 660 feet from the center of any high pressure natural gas pipeline,’ according to the resolution. The purpose of the zone or corridor is to ‘restrict development’ within those parameters for the ‘lifetime of the pipeline,’ the resolution states.
“Property owners within that zone have not been offered compensation for restrictions placed on their property outside of the construction and permanent easements, commissioners said. They say these types of development restrictions will severely affect the value of land and property owned by county residents. That planning zone, according to the resolution, would create a ‘development dead zone’ 1,300 feet wide by 12 miles long running through the heart of western Wilson County. And that would lower property values and ‘adversely affect’ both residents and Wilson County as a whole.”
Read the full article here.
Blast Zone – Natural Gas and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Causes, Consequences and Civic Action is a new report from the Rachel Carson Council. In addition to naming and exploring the economic and political systems underlying fracking and the ACP, Blast Zone highlights organizations, businesses, and campuses working in interconnected ways toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the source, restoring equity, and putting decision-making in the hands of communities.
The report discusses:
- Natural gas: current and future trends (including the “bridge fuel” myth)
- Fracking in the Marcellus and Utica Shale Basins
- The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (including the power behind it, industry motives, what’s paving the way, and the ACP and the environment)
And the report includes an entire set of “Toolboxes” for fighting the ACP:
- Policy Toolbox: Our Power Plan
- Housing Toolbox: Efficient, Affordable, Durable Investments
- Voter’s Toolbox: Supporting Fossil-Free Leaders
- Campus Toolbox: Research and Advocacy for the Public Interest
- Advocacy Toolbox: Eliminating Fracking Dangers
- Financial Toolbox: Divest and Reinvest
- Property Rights Toolbox: Challenging Eminent Domain
- Lobbying Toolbox: Re-envisioning FERC
- Policy Toolbox: Water Quality Permits
- Civil Rights Toolbox: Driving Racial and Social Justice
- Direct Action and Advocacy Toolbox
Easily understandable graphs and charts, along with photographs (many you’ll recognize) help to make the points in this clear and thoughtful report.
On August 22, 2017, the Virginia Supreme Court agreed without argument to hear on appeal the survey suit against Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC brought on behalf of six Nelson residents by Lollar Law.
Chuck Lollar says, “We believe the Virginia Supreme Court granted our Petition for Appeal without oral argument from us (replying to the opponent’s brief in opposition) because they feel that a significant issue of first impression under Virginia law has been presented, which the full court needs to address. The survey statute has been directly challenged as authorizing an unconstitutional taking, along with its interpretation by the trial court reading ‘and’ as ‘or’. The granting of our petition without argument when less than 10% of cases argued have writs granted by the Virginia Supreme Court is very encouraging. The ultimate decision by the full Court on the unconstitutional taking issue presented by the survey statute will have a major impact upon Virginia private property rights, which the appeals in two recent Supreme Court opinions failed to address.”
Briefings will take place in autumn 2017, and the oral arguments before the full seven-justice court will take place in late 2017 or early 2018.
Watch the trailer for Pipeline Fighters, a 98 minute feature length documentary, featuring Jane Kleeb, the XL pipeline killer, and Lorne Stockman of Oil Change International, a watch dog group, and Mekasi Camp-Horinek, a protest coordinator for Standing Rock in N.D. – plus specific footage on the ACP and MVP, and appearances by some familiar local pipeline fighters.
Read about the making of the film and the film’s director in this Roanoke Times article.
During a panel at the Republican Party of Virginia Advance in Richmond on December 12, 2016, “representatives of energy giant Dominion Resources were caught off guard … by landowners outraged over the company’s threatened use of eminent domain in the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Bruce McKay, Senior Energy Policy Director of Dominion, struggled to explain the utility’s position to an increasingly skeptical audience….
“The property owners definitely stirred up a hornet’s nest that Dominion wasn’t expecting. Outside the panel room the property rights advocates clashed with event officials. They were forbidden from raising their signs opposing eminent domain. Henry Howell, an attorney representing the landowners, passionately argued about the importance of property rights to all Americans, especially for Republicans, and called out the hypocrisy of the aggression towards the property owners.
“Multiple questions were submitted by attendees who voiced their concern about using eminent domain for the ACP. McKay was visibly flustered at the number of questions posed on the subject, then played dodgeball. He threw out confusing rules and facts to try to make it seem impossible to change the current pipeline plans.”
Landowners didn’t buy the dodge, and even members of the public confronted Dominion.