Quantcast

Dominion Energy Arguing to Use Eminent Domain for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Posted: Updated:
A portion of Quinn Robinson's property A portion of Quinn Robinson's property
Quinn Robinson Quinn Robinson
A "NO PIPELINE" button on Quinn Robinson's jacket A "NO PIPELINE" button on Quinn Robinson's jacket
Kenda Hanuman Kenda Hanuman
Anti-pipeline sign in Buckingham County Anti-pipeline sign in Buckingham County
BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Dominion Energy is beginning the process to take land to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

The energy company is asking the federal court to allow it to use eminent domain to get dozens of acres of land along the path of the proposed natural gas pipeline. This comes as the Virginia Water Control Board voted 4-3 to conditionally approve a permit for the pipeline project.

Some of the affected landowners are just learning about the lawsuits filed against them in federal court.

Quinn Robinson learned from NBC29 that Dominion has filed a lawsuit against him. He said he joined the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline since getting the first call from Dominion in 2014.

“At that time, I told them I didn't want to participate. I wanted to keep my farm intact,” said the landowner.

Current plans for the pipeline would have it go through nearly seven acres of the Andersonville farm that's been in Robinson's family since 1852.

“Then the letters started coming. Certified letters pressuring, suggesting if I didn't do it things would get more complicated and they have,” Robinson said.

His refusal to give in to Dominion's deals to buy the land, leading to a federal court "complaint in condemnation.” The company cites the Natural Gas Act allowing it to use eminent domain to take Robinson's property.

“They've been making proposals all along, and they've increased greatly, but still not enough to make me give up the land. And it's unfortunate they consider this a legitimate means to do it,” said Robinson.

Dominion Energy is seeking permission from the courts to use eminent domain on about two dozen properties along the pipeline's path.

In a statement, the company said:

"This is not our preference. It is an absolute last resort that we're only taking after exhausting every other option. As we move forward in the process, we'll continue working with landowners and the courts to address their concerns and ensure every landowner is fairly compensated."

“We would like to see good neighbors through all this. Obviously, we all use energy, but there's a way in which to use it and not to take advantage of people's private property,” said Friends of Buckingham co-founder Kenda Hanuman.

Robinson plans to continue his fight in court to protect his farmland from pipeline construction.

“We've just been written off as a sacrifice,” he said.

Dominion Energy said it has reached agreements with 80-percent of landowners to fairly compensate them for their land. The company said the landowners it's taking to court are properties where it plans to begin construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline next year.


12/12/2017 Statement from Dominion Energy Media Relations Manager Aaron Ruby:

As you know, over the last three years we’ve made every attempt to reach mutual easement agreements with landowners along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Landowners make a valuable contribution to our nation’s infrastructure, and we’ve always believed it’s important to treat them fairly and honestly.

Through cooperation, we’ve reached mutual agreements with 80 percent of landowners, and we’ve fairly compensated them for the use of their land. Both sides made concessions so we could reach agreements that satisfy everyone.

Working together with landowners, we’ve adjusted the pipeline’s route more than 300 times to avoid environmentally sensitive areas and other important features of their land. In living rooms and at kitchen tables, we’ve met with thousands of landowners to understand and address their concerns to the best of our ability.

With FERC approval, it’s now time to secure the remaining easements necessary to begin construction. Over the last month, we’ve made final, good faith attempts to reach these agreements. In each case, our final offers were well above the appraised value of the properties. We were pleased to reach an agreement with some of these landowners, but unfortunately we could not reach an agreement with all of them.

In accordance with the law, in recent weeks we began proceedings in federal district courts to secure easements for a limited number of properties where we plan to begin construction next year. So far, we’ve filed cases for about two dozen properties in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. This is not our preference. It is an absolute last resort that we’re only taking after exhausting every other option. As we move forward in the process, we’ll continue working with landowners and the courts to address their concerns and ensure every landowner is fairly compensated.