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Monday, 03 December 2018 17:56

Letter from Bath County Landowner William Limpert

Written by William Limpert

Dominion has recently filed for “Quick Take” in the courts against a large number of property owners in Virginia along the path of the proposed ACP. If the quick take is granted it will allow Dominion to immediately take possession of these properties, cut down their trees, and construct the pipeline on their property.

Friends:  I am asking you to let your voice be heard regarding an unjustified action currently being taken by Dominion against Virginia citizens.  Dominion is trying to take their land for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) before they have a chance to challenge the ACP in court. Regardless of your opinion on the merits of the ACP, I think you will agree that this action deprives Virginia citizens of the due process that we are guaranteed under the Constitution and Virginia law.

Dominion has recently filed for “Quick Take” in the courts against a large number of property owners in Virginia along the path of the proposed ACP. If the quick take is granted it will allow Dominion to immediately take possession of these properties, cut down their trees, and construct the pipeline on their property.

Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved this project (under very questionable circumstances), granting eminent domain rights to Dominion, property owners would not be able to obtain any compensation for their properties being damaged and taken away from them against their will, until a hearing that would not be held at least until mid 2020. Worse yet, it would also allow Dominion to seize their properties before citizens’ legal challenges have been heard.

I believe that the use of a Quick Take is unjustified, especially in light of the fact that there are a number of strong legal challenges underway that could very well stop construction of the pipeline. Allowing the destruction of private property while pipeline completion is in doubt is wrong under virtually any system of justice.

By far, the most relevant of these challenges is against the FERC approval itself. More and more evidence is coming to light indicating that this FERC approval was unjustified, and the project is not in the public interest. Unfortunately, that legal challenge is still pending in the courts due to FERC’s use of a “tolling order” that effectively put it on hold for 10 months, as the project was allowed to continue. We expect this case to be heard shortly after the new year, and I believe it has a good chance of succeeding in stopping the project.

A number of other cases are currently active including challenges to the National Park Service permit to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Forest Service permit to cross our national forests (which the court has currently suspended), the Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion regarding endangered species, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality water quality certification. The air quality permit for the Buckingham compressor station remains in doubt as well.

Additionally, The Army Corps of Engineers recently suspended their permit for the ACP to cross any stream or wetland in Virginia, following their decision to do the same in West Virginia and North Carolina. So at this time, the ACP cannot cross any stream or wetland along its entire 600 mile length in WV, VA, and NC.

A North Carolina judge recently issued a 90 day stay of ACP eminent domain proceedings against a citizen due to uncertainty about the project moving forward, and irreparable harm to his property. This common sense precedent may be helpful in convincing Virginia judges hearing Dominion’s quick take argument against private property owners to deny it.

Unfortunately, other pipelines across our country have been completed, citizens’ property taken from them, irreparably harmed, and only later the courts ruled that the projects were completed illegally. By then it was too late, and no judge has ever required that a pipeline be removed, even if was completed illegally. I believe that Dominion is motivated to complete the ACP before citizens have their day in court, in order to evade proper legal review.

This is not a pipeline issue, nor a political issue. It’s a human rights issue. Virginia citizens have the right to be heard in a court of law before their land is taken from them, and if it is taken from them, they have the right to be fully compensated at that time, and not sometime in the future.

I believe that if we have a just legal system this pipeline will not be built.

I am asking you to raise your voice for justice, and speak out against Dominion’s blatant attempt to bypass due process, and take our land by “Quick Take”. 

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