Monday, March 23, 2015

Resistance to Gas Pipelines Spreading

Dan Heyman, Public News Service (PA)
MAP: Huge pipelines originating near the West Virginia/Pennsylvania border and intended to carry Marcellus and Utica natural gas to eastern markets are running into spreading resistance from landowners on the routes. Map courtesy of Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
MAP: Huge pipelines originating near the West Virginia/Pennsylvania border and intended to carry Marcellus and Utica natural gas to eastern markets are running into spreading resistance from landowners on the routes. Map courtesy of Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Huge pipelines intended to carry Marcellus and Utica natural gas to eastern markets are running into spreading resistance from landowners.

Richmond-based Dominion Resources and its partners have filed about 100 lawsuits against landowners who are resisting surveying crews for theAtlantic Coast Pipeline.

Now landowners in the path of a different pipeline, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, have filed preemptive suits to stop surveying crews hired by the Pittsburgh-based EQT energy company and its partners.

Isak Howell is an attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a non-profit organization that represents dozens of landowners along each line.

"These companies are proposing to use the right of eminent domain -– the extraordinary power to take private property against the landowners' wishes – and it should not be granted lightly," Howell states.

Each pipeline would cost billions of dollars, run for hundreds of miles and carry billions of cubic feet of gas a day. They are designed to carry Marcellus and Utica natural gas to North Carolina and Virginia, with other connections.

Both projects would go through rugged, hard-to-build-in terrain. The companies argue the projects would put people to work and would lower gas prices, which they maintain would be good for the economy.

Howell says the landowners don't expect to see any benefit in their region, just the negative impact on land and water.

"They're definitely going to have a huge environmental impact out on the land,” he stresses. “The companies should be held to the letter of the environmental laws before these pipelines are ever approved."

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will determine much of the future of both projects. Both cross national forests, which complicates the picture. And the landowner lawsuits in state courts will also need to be addressed.

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