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Water v natural gas in Virginia legal dispute

If you drive southwest of McLean for about four and a half hours, you will come to the tiny town of Bent Mountain. The unincorporated community has fewer than 800 inhabitants, but one of the finest views of the Roanoke Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains.

The picturesque spot is the flashpoint in a hotly contested legal dispute between a coalition of land owners and business owners and the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The 300-mile natural gas pipeline system would stretch from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.

Opponents of the project say it will contaminate private water supplies and in the process harm people and the environment and hurt property values and businesses. Angry residents say the approval was part of "ill-advised and deeply flawed" process that included the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's go-ahead for the controversial project.

A project website says the project "will be constructed and owned by Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, which is a joint venture of EQT Midstream Partners, LP; NextEra US Gas Assets, LLC; Con Edison Transmission, Inc. ; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream, LLC."

The site insists that the pipeline system will make use of "a vast supply of natural gas from Marcellus and Utica shale."

A nearby resident said the dispute boils down to concerns over water quality. “Water is one of our most fundamental basic needs," he said. "Without it, we’re dust. Water is life."

We do not know how this complex dispute will be resolved, but we do know that homeowners and business interests alike have access to hearings, courts, government boards and more in which to make their positions known. To make your concerns and voice louder and clearer, talk to an attorney experienced in dispute resolution.

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