The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has agreed to suspend MVP Southgate’s ability to use eminent domain for its natural gas pipeline project in North Carolina, at least temporarily, according to public documents.
The 75-mile MVP Southgate project would start in Virginia, where it would connect with the main MVP pipeline, and enter North Carolina in Eden, in Rockingham County. From there, it would travel southeast through Alamance County, ending near the Haw River.
Construction has not begun on the project. A year ago, the NC Department of Environmental Quality denied its water quality permit application; the project also faces several court challenges. Opponents have requested that FERC hold a rehearing on the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which the commission granted last year.
MVP Southgate has petitioned FERC to deny the requests for a rehearing. FERC has yet to rule on the matter.
Despite these uncertainties, in January, MVP Southgate began eminent domain proceedings against more than 100 private landowners in Alamance and Rockingham counties in North Carolina and in Pittsylvania County in Virginia. In Alamance County alone, 38 property owners could each lose up to 10 acres of land, according to a letter sent in February from Democratic State Rep. Ricky Hurtado. Hurtado’s district includes part of Alamance County.
Alamance County Commissioners unanimously voted in 2018 to oppose the project over concerns about potential harm to the Haw River, drinking water, erosion, public safety and property values.
Today, FERC Chairman Richard Glick responded to lawmakers saying the stay is in effect. Glick referred to a recent order, issued in May, that prohibits the commission from approving construction activities while it considers requests for a rehearing. The stay is limited to 90 days.
The main MVP pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia is years behind schedule and billions over budget. It has been delayed by hundreds of permit violations and successful legal challenges. Without the main line, the Southgate project would not have a connection point.
Fifteen Democratic state lawmakers, including Hurtado, had asked FERC for the stay: Reps. Gale Adcock, Kelly Alexander Jr, John Autry, Amber Baker, Cynthia Ball, susan Fisher, Pricey Harrison, Zack Hawkins, Rachel Hunt, Verla Insko, Graig Meyer and Marcia Morey; and in the Senate, Michael Garrett and Wiley Nickel.
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