Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents plan to appeal federal court ruling

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline say they plan to appeal, following a setback this week in Roanoke federal court.

A judge dismissed most of their constitutional challenge, but the landowners' lawyer says the fight is just beginning.

Roanoke Attorney Justin Lugar says he isn't surprised, or deterred by a judge's ruling earlier this week.

"You always want to win at the first level of course," Lugar told WDBJ7, "but difficult issues aren't usually decided very easily."

Landowners who live in the path of the proposed natural gas pipeline are challenging the process of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that allows the use of eminent domain for a project opponents argue is not a public use.

And they will now take their case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"I know it's been going on for three plus years now, but it's really just beginning as far as the fight goes," Lugar said. "And to folks who are impacted by this, it's important to protect your rights and that's what we're here trying to do on behalf of our clients in Virginia and West Virginia. and make sure that if this project is going to come through, and it's a very big if still at this point, that it's done in accordance with the law and in accordance with our Constitution."

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline responded with the following statement Thursday evening.

"While the Mountain Valley Pipeline project team is, of course, pleased with the court’s ruling --- it is unfortunate, although not surprising, that steadfast opponents of the MVP project would reflexively dismiss findings that do not align with their views. As we have done since the onset of the MVP project, we will continue to listen to the concerns of community members and local officials and respect their opinions."

Landowners involved in the lawsuit are likely to ask for an expedited review of their appeal, so the constitutional questions about the use of eminent domain can be settled before construction begins on the natural gas pipeline.