Bill to allow pipeline surveyors on private property rejected by Senate
By Pamela Pritt Register-Herald Reporter
CHARLESTON — The State Senate rejected a bill that would have allowed surveyors seeking a path for a natural gas pipeline onto private property by sending a notice to owners and occupants. The Monday vote was 11-23, with seven Republicans crossing the aisle.
Democrats spoke out against the bill, which they said harmed property rights.
Sen. Ron MIller, D-Greenbrier, said SB 596 is in response to a Monroe County court case that prohibited pipeline surveyors from entering private property because none of the natural gas flowing through the pipeline will benefit West Virginians.
Judge Robert Irons ruled in August that eminent domain in the case did not pass the test of public use.
Miller said he'd heard the argument that landowners would be compensated for the pipeline right-of-way, but he said for many landowners in his area, the money wasn't what was important to them.
"Its not about the money they're going to get paid," he said. "They've farmed this property, they've lived on this property, they love this property.
"Let the courts play this out."
Miller said it was "very important" the Senate send a message.
Sen. Greg Boso, R-Nicholas, said surveyors had to establish the alignment of the route to avoid cemeteries or other issues on the land.
"Many times there are environmental concerns," Boso said. "You can't identify that unless you walk the route."