Franklin County judge grants injunction to allow pipeline surveyors to enter property
Mountain Valley Pipeline sued Reilly family after trying to survey their farm
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – Lawyers for the Mountain Valley Pipeline faced off against a landowner in Franklin County Monday trying to keep surveyors off her property.
Carolyn Reilly has called police on the surveyors multiple times, but Monday, the judge officially granted the company an injunction to enter her family farm.
Reilly left Franklin County Circuit Court Monday more frustrated than ever.
"This has just been such an uphill battle," Reilly said.
For months she has been documenting each instance where surveyors came on her property without permission. She says there are many reasons she doesn't want them there.
"Some of it is just the invasiveness of it of strangers entering our property. That feels risky to us, especially with a family and kids," Reilly said.
Reilly says those strangers wouldn't identify themselves, which was part of her concern she expressed to the judge.
"We at least have the right, I believe, to know their names, and what company specifically are they working for, and what is it they will be doing?" Reilly said.
Attorney Charles Lollar represents Reilly, and presented that very argument to the judge.
"How do you know they can avail themselves of the statute if you don't know who they work for or who they are?" Lollar said.
Ultimately, the judge did require the company to keep a log of all people working on-site and provide a $100,000 bond for any damages to Reilly's property, but to get the injunction, Lollar says the company had to prove "irreparable harm" to its business. The Mountain Valley Pipeline argued the lack of surveying would delay the project. The judge agreed, but Lollar does not.
"It would possibly delay it, maybe not. There wasn't any really definitive, strong evidence of a delay, and I felt that I was disappointed in that ruling," Lollar said.
Attorneys for the pipeline refused to comment. Moving forward, Lollar says he has another case challenging the constitutionality of the statute that he hopes to win in the Virginia Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Reilly is planning to bring a crowd to greet surveyors when they arrive on September 20th.
"We invite people who want to come and see what it is that they hope to do and intend to do on our property, that they can, people have the right to see it too," Reilly said.
Reilly is also one of 50 Virginia landowners who filed a federal lawsuit just last week against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. They claim giving the Mountain Valley Pipeline the power of eminent domain would violate their fifth amendment rights.
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