Mountain Valley Pipeline motions go before Federal judge

Protesters raise concern over pipeline, energy policies (photo: stock photo)

ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) -- More than 100 people braved rainy weather, so come to the United States District Court in Roanoke on Friday.

Inside the courtroom, people filled the seats and sat on the floor, wanting to be there for a motions hearing between 296 homeowners and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Judge Elizabeth Dillon heard arguments on 6 different motions. The first was a motion to dismiss, which both sides agreed to argue in writing rather than in court.

The next 4 motions were asking for a stay, which in legal terms is similar to a pause button. Attorneys for the homeowners said they are asking for a narrow stay of proceeding on the equitable relief until the Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. is able to weigh in.

Attorneys said they have already filed an appeal, but they are worried that by the time the case is heard, it will be too late and trees will already be cut down.

In a separate argument, attorneys for the homeowners also argued that Judge Dillon should grant a stay until the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the homeowners decide on a payment for access to their land.

Judge Dillon heard arguments on that, but held off on making a decision. Dillon explained if she ruled on the motions to stay, that could make the next motion moot, and since witnesses were already in the courtroom, she went ahead with the final motion, this time introduced by attorneys for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

This was a motion that would allow the Mountain Valley Pipeline to get access to property before they work out a payment arrangement with the homeowners.

Attorneys for MVP say they need to start the process, because every minute they don't it is costing them money. Wade Massie, the attorney for Mountain Valley Pipeline argued that not putting in the pipeline in 2018 will cost $40-$50 million dollars a month, and it would cost $200 million in increased construction costs.

However, Judge Dillon pointed out that FERC has mandated that the route of the pipeline and change, and as of the hearing she did not have the new proposed route yet.

Attorney's for the pipeline countered that they only want to start doing work on the areas that have already been approved.

The court case for this hearing is still happening, and this story will be updated as the hearing progresses.

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