Even as it asks a federal judge to allow it to run a natural gas pipeline through land it does not own, Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC is considering changes to the pipeline’s route.

In October, the company invoked its power of eminent domain to seek easements on nearly 300 pieces of private property that lie in the pipeline’s path — over the objections of affected landowners in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

Since then, Mountain Valley has either made or is considering adjustments to the pipeline’s route to avoid a large sinkhole, a family cemetery and a closed landfill, according to statements made this week in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

 The 11th-hour tweaks show that plans for the buried pipeline are too uncertain, and are changing too fast, for Mountain Valley to obtain the injunction it seeks that would provide immediate access to the land for tree cutting and other preliminary construction, attorneys for the landowners argued.

“MVP has rushed to use eminent domain without ensuring that they got it right,” said Norfolk attorney Stephen Clarke.

A marathon, two-day hearing ended at 7:45 p.m. Saturday with Judge Elizabeth Dillon saying she will decide later on whether the company is entitled to the easements.

“These have been long days, and I know this case is emotionally charged,” Dillon said in asking attorneys to submit brief s before she issues a written opinion.

Clarke cited the Slussers Chapel Conservation Site in Montgomery County as one example of how Mountain Valley continues to reconfigure the pipeline’s route. On the property is a large sinkhole, the kind of karst terrain that includes underground aquifers vulnerable to pollution.

Read more:

The Roanoke Times – Laurence Hammack – 01.13.18

Posted by: Nelson Bailey

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