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Virginia Bills to Thwart NatGas Pipeline Survey Efforts Stall

Two efforts to repeal a 2004 Virginia state law that gives natural gas companies a means to conduct surveys on private property without owner consent appear unlikely to make it through committee.

HB 1118 and SB 614 were introduced last month in Virginia’s House of Delegates and Senate respectively and are backed by lawmakers representing areas along the routes of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), two projects that have been met with vocal opposition in the state. The 2004 Virginia survey law has come under scrutiny amid efforts to block the interstate pipelines.

After subcommittee meetings this week, neither bill appears likely to advance. The Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor voted Monday to “pass by indefinitely” on the senate version, killing the bill for the current session unless the committee takes further action. In the House, the Special Subcommittee on Energy took no action on HB 1118, leaving the bill to die in subcommittee unless the full committee votes to bring it back onto the agenda.

A similar bill failed to make it through committee during the General Assembly’s 2015 session.

ACP spokesman Aaron Ruby told NGI recently that the pipeline is working through a number of court cases in Virginia to gain access to property to survey (see Daily GPI, Feb. 4). Ruby noted that the 2004 law contains provisions designed to protect property owners.

Ruby said Tuesday ACP management thinks preserving the 2004 law “is the right decision. The current process works, and it treats landowners fairly. Surveys play an important role in the process. They provide a lot of valuable information that allow us to minimize impacts on landowners and allow permitting agencies to make informed decisions.”

The 550-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d ACP would begin in West Virginia and cross into Virginia and North Carolina. It is a joint venture between Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources.

The 301-mile MVP would also begin in West Virginia and cross into Virginia. The project is a joint venture between EQT Midstream Partners LP, NextEra US Gas Assets LLC, Con Edison Gas Midstream LLC, WGL Midstream, Vega Midstream MVP LLC and RGC Midstream LLC.

Both projects have pending applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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