“See You in Court”

“If you won’t let us do what we want, we’ll sue you! See you in court” That seems to be the standard approach of the pipeline companies.

In late October, the Mountain Valley Pipeline sued hundreds of Virginia landowners to gain pipeline easements and access through eminent domain on about 300 private properties, seeking a court order for immediate access to the properties. On November 16, 2017, a federal judge slowed MVP’s effort to fast-track one of two lawsuits against hundreds of landowners seeking to use eminent domain to gain easements for construction over the more than 300-mile route across West Virginia and Virginia. Judge John Copenhaver indicated “he is going to press MVP attorneys to personally serve all of the landowners with the lawsuits against them, and demand detailed explanations if the company ultimately says it couldn’t find all of the owners and wanted to rely on a public notice in the newspaper instead. ‘The court wants these people located,’ Copenhaver said. ‘The court is expecting due process.’”

On November 16, 2017, the Charlotte Observer reported that, as soon as it receives all state and federal permits, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is ready to start seizing private property early next year to start construction on the 600-mile ACP, and will begin legal condemnation proceedings against holdout property owners who will not voluntarily lease their land for the project and agree to the financial compensation offered by the ACP for the use of their land.

And now the Mountain Valley developers have filed federal suit against the three members of West Virginia’s Fayette County Commission, saying they have unreasonably delayed progress of the MVP because the Commissioners denied a rezoning application to build one of three compressor stations along the pipeline route. The MVP promptly filed suit, asking that the Fayette commissioners be prevented from enforcing the local zoning ordinance. MVP says, “Fayette County Commission has now delayed the local permitting process so much that MVP’s construction schedule will be unreasonably delayed if MVP continues to seek issuance of a rezoning approval and required permits under the Fayette County zoning ordinance.”

What it all boils down to is huge for-profit corporations with an eye only on their bottom line expecting to do as they want, building unnecessary pipelines that will permanently scar the land of public and private property owners and limit the uses of that land, yet provide no benefit for citizens in the areas through which the pipelines pass. Then, when property owners don’t want to relinquish their private property or when elected officials want to uphold local ordinances, the corporations sue – and cry bitterly about how their projects are being “unreasonably delayed.”