On Sept. 5, 2017, a group of more than 50 landowners from the Appalachia region whose farms and homes are in the path of the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to end the abuse of eminent domain for private gain for pipelines.
UPDATE: Nov. 3, 2017
On November 3, Bold and landowners filed an amended complaint (embedded below) in the federal district court in D.C. After we filed our initial complaint on September 5th, FERC issued the certificates on October 13th — which altered a number of our claims. We also used this opportunity to add several more landowners to the complaint.
Landowners vs. FERC Lawsuit Timeline:
- Sept. 5th, 2017: Bold Alliance and landowners file lawsuit against FERC
- Nov. 3rd: Bold Alliance and landowners file amended complaint
- Nov. 17th: FERC, MVP and ACP are expected to file motions to dismiss our lawsuit
- Dec. 1st: Bold and landowners deadline to file an opposition brief
- Dec. 8th: FERC/MVP/ACP deadline to file a reply to our opposition brief
Once all of the motions and arguments have been filed during the dispositive proceedings, Bold, landowners and our attorneys will convene and determine how next to proceed with the case.
Meanwhile, Bold Alliance will also join a petition filed by a coalition of environmental groups that seeks a rehearing of FERC’s decisions to issue certificates for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2017
Carolyn Reilly, Bold Alliance, 540-488-4358, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn Elefant (landowners’ attorney), 202-297-6100, email@example.com
Landowners Sue FERC to Stop Abuse of Eminent Domain for Private Gain for Proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Fracked Gas Pipelines
Press conference Wednesday morning outside FERC offices to feature landowner-plaintiffs and their attorney, regional organizers and climate advocates
Washington, D.C. — A group of more than 50 landowners from the region whose farms and homes are in the path of the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines will hold a press conference on Wednesday outside the D.C. offices of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to announce their filing of a lawsuit against FERC to end the abuse of eminent domain for private gain for pipelines.
- WHAT: Press Conference With Landowners Suing FERC Over Eminent Domain
- WHO: Landowners attorney Carolyn Elefant; Bold Alliance’s Carolyn Reilly (also a landowner on the proposed MVP route); and landowners on the proposed ACP and MVP routes.
- WHEN: Wednesday, September 6, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
- WHERE: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), 888 1st St NE, Washington D.C.
- DETAILS: https://www.facebook.com/events/313814515754770/
The lawsuit, filed this week in Washington D.C. in federal district court, challenges the constitutionality of the eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act, and seek to end the unconstitutional and unconscionable process of taking citizens’ private property via eminent domain for a corporation’s profits — and not for “the public good” as is intended.
The lawsuit targets FERC’s encouragement of pipeline companies to negotiate easement agreements with landowners in advance of the agency’s issuance of a “certificate of need,” which results in “irretrievable commitment of resources” to a particular route prior to a formal decision, and absolves the Commission of its responsibility to actually determine whether a proposed project is needed.
“FERC’s policy of encouraging pre-certificate easement negotiations between impacted landowners and the pipeline impermissibly biases the outcome of the certificate approval process, because FERC views pipeline proposals more favorably when the company has acquired most of the easements by negotiation,” the lawsuit states. “In so doing, FERC emboldens private companies to abuse eminent domain rights by duping landowners into signing an easement agreement by threatening them with eminent domain powers that the company does not have, or by until by refusing to agree to any protective measures in advance of construction until the landowner agrees to sign an easement, often for constitutionally inadequate compensation.”
The lawsuit also specifically challenge FERC’s issuance of “conditioned certificates” — which authorize a taking of property rights that are not, and may never be, necessary to construct the proposed project; and “blanket certificates” — which inappropriately grant a private company eminent domain power coextensive with that of the state, and strip future aggrieved landowners of their rights to formal administrative procedures.
Under the current regulatory regime, landowners are left without a forum to challenge eminent domain abuses. Meanwhile, virtually anything goes — with certificates conferring eminent domain issued by FERC to pipelines that do not serve a public use, but instead, facilitate gas for export or create opportunities for pipelines to monopolize the market for input to gas and electricity to be distributed in markets controlled by the pipeline’s affiliates.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Bold Alliance, and individual landowners on the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline routes in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Defendants include FERC and its individual commissioners, and Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC and Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC.
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More background on the Bold Appalachia Landowner Alliance:
View the full text of landowners’ lawsuit online: