UNION, W.Va. (AP) — A judge has ruled the developer of a proposed natural gas pipeline can’t survey a West Virginia couple’s property without their permission.
Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons ruled Wednesday that Mountain Valley Pipeline failed to establish the project would provide sufficient public use to justify entering private property without an owner’s permission.
Irons issued an injunction sought by Bryan and Doris McCurdy of Greenville, multiple media outlets reported. The McCurdys were represented by lawyers from Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
Mountain Valley Pipeline spokeswoman Natalie Cox said the company will review the judge’s order.
“While we respect the court’s bench ruling today, we will review the written order once it is received and consider our options going forward,” Cox said.
Mountain Valley wants to build a 300-mile pipeline that would transport natural gas from Wetzel County to another pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA.
Derek Teaney, a lawyer with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, asked Sean Posey, project manager for the project, whether there is a firm commitment for the Mountain Valley Pipeline as currently designed to serve customers along the route in West Virginia.
Posey said there wasn’t such a commitment at this point since Mountain Valley is in the pre-filing phase of seeking approval of the interstate pipeline project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“We fully expect usage to develop in West Virginia,” Posey said.
Irons said it seemed clear to him that the pipeline, as designed, provides “very little benefit to the people of West Virginia.”
Angela Stanton, an organizer of Preserve the New River Valley, an anti-pipeline group in Virginia, said after the court ruling, “We applaud these brave landowners for standing their ground and fighting for their personal property rights.”