VA Landowner Uses State Police to Eject Pipeline Surveyors

Increasingly landowners (and anti-fossil fuelers, sometimes one and the same) are attempting to employ the use of local law enforcement to prohibit pipeline companies from surveying their land–especially in Virginia. Survey crews for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA, have the right under Virginia State law to enter a property without the property owner’s permission to survey–as long as they have sent a prior notice to the landowner with target dates of when they will be on location. However, some landowners (very small percentage) don’t want the pipeline and don’t want surveyors on their property–and have had their lawyers tell them so. When surveyors recently turned up on one property, the landowners called the State Police. The State Police (as well as local police) have a stated policy that they do not interfere with non-criminal matters. And surveying a property legally is not a criminal matter. However, the troopers came out and had a quick talk with the surveyors. The troopers did not eject the surveyors per se, but soon after the troopers left the surveyors did too. This is troublesome and problematic. Did the troopers put undue pressure on the surveyors to leave? Should the troopers have come to the property at all? Does the landowner have culpability in calling the cops for a non-criminal matter, wasting the troopers’ time?…

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