In light of the recent controversy regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine reintroduced the Pipeline Fairness, Transparency, and Responsible Development Act. This Act is meant to enhance protections for landowners in the path of interstate natural gas pipelines and requires more public input in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) review process.
The construction and operation of gas pipelines often inflict harm on private property. This bill attempts to ensure that pipeline companies don’t damage people’s land until they can prove they can build the pipeline. If passed, the Act would:

  • improve the process through which landowners are notified of a potential pipeline project affecting their property;
  • prevent pipeline projects from exercising eminent domain or commencing construction until the project has received all requisite permits, certifications, or other permissions required under federal law;
  • attempt to limit eminent domain to situations in which the taking of property for natural gas pipelines is for public, not private, use;
  • mandate public comment meetings in every locality through which a pipeline passes, at every stage in the process.

According to one Southern Environmental Law official, the bill is a good effort “to protect landowners from the destruction caused by gas pipelines rubberstamped by regulators at FERC.” This destruction is especially evident in the Appalachian region, specifically in West Virginia, where the Mountain Valley Pipeline has destroyed private property and damaged the landscape of multiple communities.

Southern Environmental Law Center