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Lawsuit filed against FERC, Mountain Valley Pipeline on behalf of landowners

Attorneys of the Virginia law firm Gentry Locke filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Roanoke Division, challenging the constitutionality of actions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Mountain Valley Pipeline.

courtA motion for a preliminary injunction has been filed along with the Complaint. The Motion seeks assistance from the Court in preventing FERC from granting MVP the power of eminent domain, and seeks to prevent MVP from attempting to exercise any power of eminent domain in its quest to build a 303-mile-long, 42-inch natural gas pipeline that will traverse across Virginia and West Virginia.

According to lead attorney Justin M. Lugar, “Today marks an important day not only for landowners in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline but for all Americans, for every citizen in Virginia, West Virginia, and across the United States that values our constitutional right to be secure in our property.”

Lugar added, “The landowners named as plaintiffs in this case represent just a small sample of the citizens affected by the pipeline: from those living within the blast zone or the watershed, to those interested community members that have devoted time, energy, and their resources to challenge the actions of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Mountain Valley Pipeline. It’s not a political issue of the left or right but rather a pure issue of constitutional law and individual property rights. The issue of how and when a private entity may invoke eminent domain is one that should concern all Americans, including current and prospective landowners.”

The complaint, which was filed on behalf of landowners, represents the coordination of people from all walks of life joined together to challenge the constitutionality of FERC’s and MVP’s efforts to invoke eminent domain on behalf of a private company. The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief as follows:

  • To obtain a declaration that FERC’s standards for issuing a Certificate of Convenience and Public Necessity fall short of the requirements of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution and the standard set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005);
  • To obtain a declaration that Congress’s delegation to FERC of the power of eminent domain under the Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C § 717f(h)) is unconstitutional because it is overly broad;
  • To obtain a declaration that FERC’s sub-delegation of the power of eminent domain to private actors such as MVP is unconstitutional; and
  • To obtain a declaration that MVP has already violated the Virginia plaintiffs’ federal and state constitutional rights by taking tangible and intangible property from landowners while performing surveying activities under Virginia Code § 56-49.01.
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