The Virginia Supreme Court ruled on July 13 in two cases that challenged the right of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP, LLC) to survey their property under the provisions of Section 56-49.01. That statute provides that:

Any firm, corporation, company, or partnership, organized for the bona fide purpose of operating as a natural gas company as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 717a, as amended, may make such examinations, tests, hand auger borings, appraisals, and surveys for its proposed line or location of its works as are necessary (i) to satisfy any regulatory requirements and (ii) for the selection of the most advantageous location or route, . . . [and] may enter upon any property without the written permission of its owner if (a) the natural gas company has requested the owner’s permission to inspect the property as provided in subsection B, (b) the owner’s written permission is not received prior to the date entry is proposed, and (c) the natural gas company has given the owner notice of intent to enter . . .

In a case brought by a group of Buckingham County landowners, Chaffins, et. al. vs. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, the court ruled that pipeline surveyors had not provided adequate notice before entering the plaintiffs’ property. The decision favored the landowners, ruling that the ACP had not given appropriate notice under the requirements of the statute.

The second case, brought by Augusta County landowner Hazel Palmer, challenged the right of an out-of-state corporation (ACP, LLC is chartered in Delaware) to enter property for surveys or to seize property under eminent domain. The court ruled that state law permits the survey work, but said the plaintiffs had waited too late in the legal process to raise the issue of eminent domain, or property seizure.  For more, see the Washington Post story below.

VA Supreme Court Hands Down Two Decisions on State Surveying Law
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