Pipeline Lawsuit Dismissed in Suffolk Court
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline project suffered a setback on Tuesday, when the first litigation case against landowners was heard in Suffolk, Virginia Circuit Court. ACP LLC had begun lawsuits in December against property owners who had refused access for the purpose of surveying for the route.
Dominion Transmissions, Inc. had mailed letters to landowners beginning in the spring of 2014, notifying of the intent to survey for what was then called the Southeast Reliability Project. Subsequently, three other entities joined – Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources. The project was renamed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the companies formed a limited liability corporation with the same name. In Tuesday’s court proceedings, the judge ruled that Dominion could not assign the letters it had sent to the ACP LLC, and therefore, ACP had not met the requirements necessary for entry. He dismissed the lawsuit against the defendant.
In a press release, Dominion spokesperson Jim Norvelle that all similar lawsuits filed in Virginia, where the landowner received a letter from DTI, will be withdrawn. Approximately 110 lawsuits were filed across the state, and the company has yet to determine how many are affected by this ruling. In Highland, 4 landowners were sued by the ACP – the circuit court clerk reported no activity on these cases as of the time of this story.
Mr. Norvelle reported that new letters requesting permission to survey will be sent to affected landowners. If this permission is not granted, the company may start legal proceedings again. He did not indicate in the release how this might affect the company’s schedule for filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. F.E.R.C. is currently accepting comments on the project, and ACP had planned to file for permission to construct the pipeline this summer.