By Jason Dunovant, Smith Mountain Eagle
Members of the group Preserve Franklin gathered at the Rocky Mount Courthouse steps this past Thursday to protest the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Concerned citizens, mostly Franklin County residents, braved cold temperatures and high winds to hold signs that warned of what they believe are real dangers if the pipeline is constructed.
For Preserve Franklin, the battle to stop the pipeline has been difficult. Residents along the route of the pipeline and even the counties themselves have little say in if the pipeline is constructed. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission itself will give final approval of the project.
Mountain Valley Pipeline will purchase land along the route of the pipeline for construction to begin. If those involved with the pipeline are unable to reach an agreement with residents, the property could be acquired by eminent domain with the court determining the compensation.
“Landowners should have the right to say no to the pipeline,” Mark Laity-Snyder said. Snyder was one of the many local residents at the courthouse on Thursday.
Officials with the pipeline contacted Snyder recently for a survey of his property. He refused the survey, but is still concerned that the project could go on even without his approval.
The proposed path of the pipeline in Franklin County would run mostly along Route 40 as it makes its way into Pittsylvania County. At least 75 feet of permanent easement would be required for the pipeline. An additional 50 feet of easement would also be required during construction of the pipeline.
The entire length of the pipeline would stretch 300 miles from West Virginia and into the Virginia counties of Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin, before ending at a delivery point located in Pittsylvania County. The 42 inch in diameter pipeline would run underground and transport natural gas collected by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.