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Editorial: Trespassers will not be re-elected

From The Dominion Post:
Honestly, we expected better from lawmakers who introduced these bills.

But, since ”doublespeak” is the rage and still fools many, why not?

We refer to two measures in the Legislature to provide gas companies access to land without the property owners’ permission.

Last fall, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that barred a pipeline project’s surveyors from private land.

In West Virginia, state law requires companies to demonstrate a public use to justify allowing surveyors to enter private property without an owner’s permission

The judge ruled that the pipeline company failed to establish that sufficient public use and issued an injunction barring surveyors from the property.

In November, the state Supreme Court affirmed that lower court’s decision that surveyors for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) had no right to enter the property without permission.

“MVP has been unable to identify even a single West Virginia consumer, or a West Virginia natural gas producer who is not affiliated with MVP, who will derive a benefit from MVP’s pipeline,” the ruling stated.

As a result, the company could not rely on a state law that could have vested MVP with the power of eminent domain to survey the couple’s property without consent.

Now, rather than attempt to take the high ground and rewrite our state’s eminent domain laws, certain legislators took the low road.

Both SB 245 and HB 2688 require companies to send the owner 15 days notice of their intent to survey a property owner’s land.

However, the bill makes no provision for the owner’s receipt of the certified mail, only that notice is sent. If the owner fails to reject this request within that 15-day period the surveyors can enter the property without permission.

As one of our readers recently put it, “In other words, they have the right to come onto your property unless you tell them to stay off.”

Why not just let them borrow your truck or raid your freezer unless you tell them no too?

When companies obscure, disguise, distort or reverse the spirit or letter of our laws to serve their interest we say, “Hell no.”

Trying to legitimize trespassing does not make this truth easier to swallow.

We urge voters to take note of the legislators who support these bills.

Because, in the coming weeks, you can expect even worse from them.

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