Landowners file new federal lawsuit challenging Mountain Valley Pipeline

Published: Jan. 6, 2020 at 1:24 PM EST
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Opponents of the

have filed a new lawsuit in federal court.

The case challenges the constitutionality of the federal approval process and the use of eminent domain to take land for the project.

Three couples who own land in the path of the pipeline are listed as plaintiffs. They are asking the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. for an injunction to prevent their property from being seized.

Mountain Valley Pipeline says the project is 90 percent complete, due to enter service later this year.

But work on the 42-inch natural gas pipeline was suspended in 2019 after courts invalidated key environmental permits.

A new federal lawsuit filed this week raises constitutional questions about the federal approval process and the use of eminent domain by a private company.

The plaintiffs live near Elliston in Montgomery County, near Boones Mill in Franklin County and on Bent Mountain in Roanoke County.

Their lawsuit challenges the delegation of legislative power to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as "overly broad."

Plaintiffs also argue delegating the public power of eminent domain to a private actor, like a pipeline company, is unconstitutional.

They're asking for a declaratory judgment and an injunction that would invalidate FERC approvals, and prevent the use of eminent domain to seize property for the project.

Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the pipeline company said, "MVP is reviewing the filing and will respond accordingly based on the provided information."

"As this is pending litigation," Natalie Cox wrote, "we are unable to provide additional details at this time."

Russell Chisholm is Co-chair of POWHR, a coalition of groups that oppose the pipeline.

"We are encouraged that landowners may have a real opportunity for judicial consideration of their claims challenging the constitutionality of delegating Congressional powers to separate entities," Chisholm said in a news release.

"The process as it stands has allowed FERC and private corporations to use the extraordinary power of eminent domain to seize property by force from landowners—a process that has continued even in the face of a multitude of missing permits, several pending lawsuits, and the absence of true public need for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

It's unclear when the court will hear this case.

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