BECKLEY, W.Va. — Questions have been raised about whether natural gas producer EQT Corp. can legally force West Virginia landowners to allow surveyors onto their property while charting a proposed natural gas pipeline route.
In a letter to landowners, EQT’s attorney Stephen E. Hastings wrote the state Legislature recognized the surveying process as important enough that it placed in State Code a law that allows natural gas companies to enter private property for the purpose of examining, surveying and laying out the lands, ways and easements.
EQT, which along with NextEra Energy, plans to building a 42-inch diameter, 300-mile pipeline through 10 West Virginia counties and into Virginia, said the letter was sent to highlight the importance of gaining access to property, so surveyors can help design the pipeline’s best route.
However, Isak Howell, an attorney for Appalachian Mountain Advocates, said landowners in West Virginia have the right to say who can and cannot enter their property.
“Just the legal definition of private property gives the landowner the ability to exclude certain people from their property,” he said.
Howell said companies simply cannot come onto property without permission of the landowners…