CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Fayette County commissioners are asking for a federal lawsuit filed by the developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline to be thrown out, disagreeing that federal regulations override local zoning laws.
The commissioners contend the pipeline developers are unlikely to prevail on their effort to make way for a natural gas compressor station in Fayette County through the federal court system.
“Plaintiff does not meet the equitable requirements for injunctive relief; specifically, there is insufficient likelihood of success, threat of irreparable harm is not shown, the balance of equities does not favor Plaintiff, and an injunction will not serve the public interest,” wrote lawyers for the pipeline.
The developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline filed suit against the three members of the Fayette County Commission in late November, saying they’ve unreasonably delayed progress on the proposed 300-mile, $3.5 billion project.
Mountain Valley Pipeline would extend 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline to transport West Virginia natural gas into southern Virginia.
The pipeline would go through Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Braxton, Webster, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers, and Monroe counties.
The pipeline developers dispute the Fayette commissioners’ decision to deny a rezoning application to build one of three compressor stations along the pipeline route.
The compressor station would be built on three parcels of land currently zoned for rural residential uses in Fayette County that may not be served by public sewer facilities.
The property collectively is called the Stallworth Station. Compressor stations increase the pressure on natural gas to keep it moving through the pipeline.
The developers filed their lawsuit in federal court in Charleston against Fayette County Commissioners Matthew D. Wender, Denise Scalph and John Brenemen.
They contend the federal Natural Gas Act and the Pipeline Safety Act preempt Fayette County’s zoning ordinance. They argue that approval of a certificate by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission specifically authorizes construction and operation of the compressor station.
The lawsuit asks for the Fayette commissioners to be prevented from enforcing the local zoning ordinance.
The response filed this Monday denies many of the claims in the lawsuit.
“Defendants deny that the Fayette County Zoning Ordinance is preempted by the NGA and the PSA and deny that Plaintiff has a legal basis for a ‘permanent’ injunction to enjoin the Fayette County Commission from enforcing its zoning ordinances,” wrote lawyers for the commissioners.
They went on to acknowledge that in October, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a certificate for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, “but deny that its issuance gave unfettered authorization for MVP to begin construction without contingencies or without requiring MVP’s activities comply with Federal, State and local laws.”