Eminent Domain and Environmental Concerns Atop List for Group Opposed to Mountain Valley Pipeline

IRELAND, W.Va. — Count another voice in opposition against the proposed construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a multi-state natural gas pipeline project that remains in the public comment period.

April Pierson-Keating of the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance said that her organization, which held a public forum Thursday evening for concerned citizens, had a number of issues with the pipeline–including concern over the use of eminent domain.

“It’s one of the major issues,” Pierson-Keating said on Friday’s edition of the MetroNews-affiliated “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network. “I think it appeals to everybody across the board. Eminent domain is being abused right now by certain people who come to your door and tell you that if you don’t sign on the dotted line they are going to take it from you with eminent domain.”

The project is expected to create approximately 4500 jobs in West Virginia, if approved. Pierson-Keating takes umbrage with that figure.

“The number of permanent jobs on these pipelines is much, much less than the number of temporary jobs,” she said. “This 4500 figure is a very temporary number. We’re talking jobs, maybe, in the 30s.”

Instead, she would rather see West Virginia embrace renewable energy as a job creator.

“This is an opportunity that we can extend to our state now and develop other means of providing jobs that are cleaner and safer and don’t take such a toll on the water,” she said.

She said that topic usually created more debate because of West Virginia’s ongoing economic struggles. But, she warns, there is some potential economic downside.

Key Log Economics has done a comprehensive study over an eight-county region,” she said. “Two of those counties in West Virginia are Summers and Monroe. We’re talking millions of dollars in lost property values.”

EQT, a prominent member of the local energy industry, disputed that analysis earlier this year–citing their studies which adhered to regulatory and industry standards.

For Pierson-Keating and her group’s members, she hopes West Virginians will weigh the costs and benefits of such a project–and make their voices heard.

“If there was any kind of an explosion or leak and a neighboring property was affected then that could affect you if you had signed on the dotted line,” she said.

Residents who fear the pipeline will damage their land in Lewis County hosted a symbolic protest earlier this Summer.

According to the project schedule, construction is likely to begin in the middle of 2017.

The pipeline is expected to run through 11 West Virginia counties and include compressor stations in three counties.