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Nelson Co. Pipeline Opponents Lose Fight in Senate Committee

Posted: Updated: Feb 23, 2015 06:35 PM
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -

A set of bills that came in response to dispute over a proposed natural gas pipeline died at a Virginia Senate panel meeting Monday afternoon.

The proposed legislation came about in response to the property rights debate about the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. Dominion Resources is joining other utilities to build the $5 billion, 550-mile pipeline.

On Monday, homeowners and concerned neighbors from Nelson County lobbied in Richmond for bills that would have limited Dominion's authority with surveying residents' properties. They showed their support to legislation introduced jointly by 24th District Senator Emmett Hanger (R) and 25th District Sen. Creigh Deeds (D).

The main bill the property owners had hoped to see passed, SB 1338, would have repealed a 2004 code that allows natural gas companies to go on private property for projects without the permission of the owners. The other one, SB 1166, would have grant land-owners more access to documents when concerns of eminent domain come about.

"I should not bear the burden of proof that someone seeking access against my will is doing so for their own profit," said Friends of Nelson President Joanna Salidis.

Home-owners argued that the project is designed to serve corporate interests, not the public.

Dominion's rebuttal has been that the pipeline would benefit communities by increasing domestic energy and possibly lowering power bills for all customers.

Although lawmakers said they sympathized with the fears from land-owners, they couldn't come up with a better idea. 

Both bills failed to advance out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

The Nelson Co. home-owners also asked lawmakers to pledge to stop accepting gifts from companies like Dominion.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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