Mountain Valley Pipeline pursues injunction in federal court

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Pipeline opponents who were defending their property from pipeline survey crews last summer, were sitting in a federal courtroom Thursday morning.

Among the issues attorneys argued: whether the Mountain Valley Pipeline should provide landowners with more information on its corporate finances, and the capacity of the partners who are involved in the project.

Carolyn Reilly is a Franklin County landowner whose property lies in the path of the proposed natural gas pipeline.

"We have the right to know and understand that there will be just compensation done," Reilly told WDBJ7, "and at this point we don't know that."

Attorneys representing Mountain Valley Pipeline declined an interview, but in court Wade Massie said the bond the company must provide will guarantee just compensation for landowners.

And Thursday afternoon, a company spokesperson provided the following written statement:

"The Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC management committee has approved the budget to construct the Mountain Valley Pipeline and each of the joint venture partners has committed to fund its proportionate share of capital for the project. The overall planned and approved funding may be a combination of cash and/or financing."

A hearing in mid-January will determine if MVP can gain immediate access to the property of landowners who have refused to negotiate with the pipeline company.

And opponents say the process is now moving so quickly, they do not have adequate time to protect their property rights.

"Landowners are here at the court looking for justice," said pipeline opponent and Bent Mountain resident Roberta Bondurant. "And what we have always heard is that the wheels of justice turn slowly. Perhaps at the very least, they should turn a little bit more slowly here."

Judge Elizabeth Dillon must still rule on the discovery motions that were argued Thursday. The lawyers and landowners will return to the federal courthouse in two weeks.