Appalmad is committed to helping landowners living in the footprint of the proposed pipelines. We represent, pro bono, scores of landowners who the pipeline corporations have sued or threatened to sue for access to private property.
If you are a property owner potentially affected by one of these pipelines, it’s necessary that you understand your rights. First and foremost, if you are approached by someone from a pipeline company, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING without first getting legal advice.
Eminent Domain to Survey
Dominion and Mountain Valley Pipeline are in the process of surveying for various routing options. When landowners have refused the gas companies permission to enter private property, the companies have tried to use the power of eminent domain to force entry.
Whether a landowner can prevent surveyors from entering his or her property depends on where the property is located.
West Virginia: Appalachian Mountain Advocates secured a win for landowners in August 2015, when a West Virginia judge ruled that Mountain Valley Pipeline could not force West Virginia landowners to grant access for surveying. As a result of this ruling, a West Virginia landowner has a good claim to exclude pipeline surveyors from private property.
Virginia: In Virginia, however, several courts have found that the pipeline companies may, with proper notification, force access despite property owners’ objections. Appalmad appealed this ruling, but the Virginia Supreme Court declined to hear the case. This leaves those rulings to stand, meaning a Virginia landowner does not have strong legal grounds to exclude pipeline surveyors meeting all other requirements.
Once on private property, gas company employees cannot use vehicles or power equipment on a landowner’s property without permission. The gas company also must reimburse the owner for any actual damages resulting from entry.
A pipeline company cannot use the power of eminent domain force a landowner to sell until it receive a federal stamp of approval, known as the certificate of public convenience and necessity, from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Appalachian Mountain Advocates is deeply involved in FERC’s federal review process. Read more about how we are pushing FERC to grapple with the economic and environmental impacts of the proposed pipelines.
This federal review process and any subsequent litigation is likely to take years. In the meantime, we recommend that landowners get legal representation before signing any agreement with the gas companies.