“Property rights is the most important issue,” said a landowner in Pocahontas County
WV last week at a citizens meeting, to which all others in the room nodded in agreement.
Since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline were proposed one
of the most disturbing aspects of the projects is the power granted to pipeline companies by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take private property under the power of eminent
domain to build the pipelines. It is done under the guise that the projects are for a public
purpose, when in fact they are for private gain.
A related issue in Virginia has been the exception to trespass laws granted exclusively to
natural gas pipeline companies by a 2004 law. More recently, the integrity of property rights in
Virginia has been shaken by a proposal from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to permit a
wholesale violation of a long-standing environmental easement program administered by the
Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF), a state agency. The need for reforming property rights
laws, particularly eminent domain, will be a major subject addressed at the November 12
Pipeline Summit in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Participating in this important discussion will be:
|Larry Shapiro, Associate Director for Program Development, Rockefeller
Family Fund, New York City. He is also President of the Board of the
Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEFFA), the
organization that released a study in April on the risks of pipeline
expansions in the Appalachian region. Mr. Shapiro convened a national
conference in June on “Pipelines and Eminent Domain.” He will be
discussing a new initiative that seeks to reform the ability of pipeline
companies to utilize eminent domain laws.
|Richard Averitt, CEO at Digital ReLab and a Nelson County, VA resident. Mr. Averitt has been significantly impacted by the proposed ACP. A 100acre property he and his father, Dick Averitt, purchased in the Rockfish Valley portion of Nelson County, VA to build a resort is in the path of the ACP, thus preventing the resort development from proceeding. The resort would create 50 full-time and 50-75 part-time jobs, significantly more permanent employment than the ACP would create in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.
|Kate Wofford, Executive Director, Shenandoah Valley Network, an
organization whose mission is to maintain healthy and productive rural
landscapes and communities, to protect and restore natural resources, and to strengthen and sustain the region’s agricultural economy. Ms. Wofford will discuss the environmental easement issue in Virginia and also serve as the panel’s moderator.