Court upholds Mountain Valley Pipeline eminent domain challenge dismissal despite recent legal shift

(UI) — A federal appeals court has once again dismissed a challenge brought by landowners against the Mountain Valley Pipeline's utilization of eminent domain, Reuters reported.

Despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling easing the process for suing federal agencies, the court upheld its decision, citing federal law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a unanimous decision by Circuit Judges Cornelia Pillard, Robert Wilkins, and Justin Walker, supported a district court's ruling. This ruling stated that the court couldn't entertain the landowners' lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the pipeline developers. The lawsuit was deemed ineligible as it was filed after the D.C. Circuit had already taken up an appeal from a separate administrative challenge concerning the same matter.

Representing the landowners, Mia Yugo expressed disagreement with the decision and stated intentions to seek Supreme Court review, according to Reuters. She emphasized the critical nature of the right to private property in the country.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, authorized by FERC in 2017, has faced numerous legal battles. Despite most of these being resolved, the $7.2 billion project has encountered significant opposition. Some opponents, such as the Sierra Club, challenged the pipeline's certificate on various grounds, including the claim that the use of eminent domain was unconstitutional.

Although a recent Supreme Court decision expanded private parties' ability to challenge agency actions, the panel reiterated its original decision. They emphasized that the Natural Gas Act, unlike the laws in the Supreme Court case, includes explicit language stripping jurisdiction from district courts.

The outcome underscores the ongoing complexity surrounding the Mountain Valley Pipeline project and the legal framework governing such contentious infrastructure developments.

This story was originally published by Reuters.

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