Curtis Tate Published

Court Upholds Landowners’ Award From Mountain Valley Pipeline

An older man and woman sit at a table in a former school converted into a community center.
John Coles Terry III and his wife, Red Terry, in Bent Mountain, Virginia, on Friday, May 10, 2024.
Curtis Tate / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Mountain Valley Pipeline got federal approval earlier this week to begin service. That same day, a federal court upheld a jury verdict the company had appealed.

Mountain Valley Pipeline had sued Frank, Coles and Elizabeth Terry, of Bent Mountain, Virginia, for a 50-foot easement on their property for the project.

A jury awarded the Terrys $523,000, but then U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Dillon cut it in half.

Last month, a three-judge panel on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the original jury award. On May 28, Mountain Valley Pipeline appealed the decision and asked for the entire Fourth Circuit to hear the appeal.

On Tuesday, the court denied both requests, preserving the original award for the Terry siblings.

In an email, Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for Equitrans Midstream, the pipeline’s builder, said she wouldn’t comment on whether the company would appeal again.

Also Tuesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Mountain Valley Pipeline to begin operating, though it isn’t clear when gas will flow through the 303-mile pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia.

FERC had earlier allowed the pipeline’s builder to use eminent domain to acquire the easements it needed. Landowners challenged the agency’s decision in court but did not prevail.

The pipeline failed a water pressure test at Bent Mountain on May 1, releasing a large volume of water and sediment into nearby properties. The ruptured pipe was sent to a laboratory for analysis, but federal regulators and the company have not shared any results.