Landowners in the path of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines have teamed up to protect their property and take the companies to court.
More than 50 landowners have filed a lawsuit against the companies building the pipelines and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The lawsuit claims the companies are illegally using eminent domain and violating constitutional rights, but according to a pipeline spokesperson, eminent domain hasn’t been used.
Landowners on the lawsuit made the announcement Wednesday outside the FERC offices in Washington, D.C.
“All across this country – what we have is an extraordinary abuse by our corporations of the private citizens,” said Richard Avery, who lives in the path of one of the pipelines.
According to the lawsuit, the landowners also claim FERC is being unfair to property owners. But pipeline officials say that’s not true.
“We do not have eminent domain authority,” said Aaron Ruby, spokesperson for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “We have not exercised eminent domain authority. And we have not suggested that we have that power.”
About 70 percent of the landowners along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route have willingly given crews access to their land, Ruby said.
“We honor their contribution by treating them fairly and respectfully and by compensating them fairly for the use of their land,” he added.
While some landowners have been cooperating, Carolyn Reilly fears what it could lead to.
“Essentially you’re opening up the floodgates for further infrastructure projects, fossil fuel projects,” she said. “What is that going to bring in to communities?”
Environmental impact has been minimized, Ruby said.
WFXR News is still waiting to hear back from officials with the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
A spokesperson for FERC told WFXR News she cannot comment on pending litigation.