Federal judge denies request for injunction against pipeline project

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 8:30 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A federal judge in Roanoke has denied a request for a temporary injunction that would have put a hold on blasting for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Judge Elizabeth Dillon did not rule on the merits of the motion, but said the court did not have the authority or jurisdiction to grant the request.

When we visited the Terry property Wednesday, crews from Precision Pipeline were drilling holes, and preparing to blast the rock that lies beneath the project right-of-way.

But after finding water in holes near a spring and stream, landowners said they feared the work would damage the aquifer that supplies their drinking water.

Attorney Joe Sherman argued the field work goes beyond what federal regulators had approved, and holds the potential for irreparable harm.

“We were asking for a strict interpretation of the 2017 certificate,” Sherman told WDBJ7 after the hearing, “and I remain optimistic that over time this court and others will take the same perspective.”

Landowner Coles Terry said he was disappointed, but not surprised.

“Not surprised at all. Really not,” Terry said. “I feel like we’ve been battling this thing for six years now and I’ve never been surprised with a ruling yet.”

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said the company was pleased with the court’s decision and appreciated the quick review of the case. Earlier this week, the company said the presence of water in the holes was normal, and there was no evidence an aquifer was penetrated.

Pipeline opponents say they will continue to press the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to issue stop work orders.

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