Legal Blog

Natural Gas Pipelines in Your Backyard

The tension between our nation’s need for utilities and the need to preserve our environment has been catapulted into the spotlight as landowners in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and West Virginia contest the expansion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.  Federal law provides many utilities with the power of Eminent Domain – or the ability to take private land for a public use, which requires that the utility provide the landowner with payment, also known as just compensation.

Some opponents argue that pipelines unnecessarily increase fossil-fuel usage, which has been found to increase global warming. Others resist the impact to local natural resources – such as trees – that need to be cleared as a result of the pipeline development (You may have seen photos of opponents camped out in trees in the pipeline’s path). Proponents argue that pipeline expansion is necessary in order to meet the nations’ expanding energy needs in a cost-efficient way.

Several lawsuits are currently pending on both sides of this Eminent Domain argument. For example, landowners in federal court in Roanoke, Virginia are contesting the ability of Mountain Valley to acquire the land as an invalid “public use.” Similarly, several environmental groups are suing the utility in Virginia’s Fourth Circuit over the possible environmental ramifications of the pipeline. These cases should be monitored to see whether the court expands (or reduces) the ability of the utilities and landowners to obtain redress in similar situations.



Have a question on Eminent Domain? Contact attorney Theodora Stringham to discuss. or 703-745-1849.



Theodora Stringham focuses her litigation practice on providing diligent attention to clients’ needs. She distills complicated and contentious issues into a succinct and persuasive manner for negotiation and trial presentation.

Theodora litigates complex land use issues, including but not limited to, eminent domain/condemnation matters, zoning disputes, access, and valuation concerns. She has served as a fee counsel for the Virginia Department of Transportation and has also provided representation to individual landowners and developers alike.








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