Va. Supreme Court on July 13, 2017, Upholds State Law on Surveying for Natural Gas Pipeline Routes Without Landowner Permission

On July 14, 2017, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Commonwealth’s law that allows surveying for potential natural gas pipelines without landowner permission, so long as specified notification procedures are followed.  The ruling was in a case brought by Hazel Palmer, a landowner in Augusta County, whose property is on the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Ms. Palmer was appealing a ruling by the Augusta County Circuit Court, which also upheld the state law.  The Va. Supreme Court court also ruled that surveying companies must be more specific in their notification to landowners of the date for survey activities than is provided by the wording of “on or after” a certain date.  The case is Hazel F. Palmer v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC; the ruling is available online (as a PDF) at http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1160630.pdf.

As of July 2017, another lawsuit on the state’s gas pipeline surveying law–asserting that gas pipeline surveying activity without landowner permission is an unconstitutional “taking” of personal property–is on appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (in Richmond).

Sources:
Pipelines: Va. Supreme Court upholds gas survey law on entering private property, but requires specific notice to landowners, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/13/17.
Virginia Supreme Court ruling upholds pipeline surveying law; challenges still possible, Roanoke Times, 7/13/17.
Supreme Court of Virginia hands pipeline foes small victory, but project rolls on, Washington Post, 7/13/17.

For more details on developments about natural gas in Virginia, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

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