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Senate Kills Bill Allowing Private Property Survey

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The state Senate has voted down a bill that would have allowed natural gas company surveyors onto private property without a landowner's permission.

Senators voted down the bill 23 to 11 Monday. 

Under the legislation, natural gas company surveyors would have been allowed on private property to conduct studies to statisfy regulatory requirements when attempting to propose a right-of-way for a natural gas pipeline. Companies would have been required to send notice asking for permission at least 15 but nor more than 60 days before the actual survey would take place. 

The bill stems from an injunction issued last summer by a Monroe County judge. Property owners in the area refused to allow surveyors for the Mountain Valley pipeline onto their property and the judge upheld their property rights.

Greenbrier County Senator Ron Miller said Monday passing the bill would have reversed the judge's order. 

"With this piece of legislation, we're telling the court 'we don't care that you ruled on this, we don't care what the people want in this region, we're going to take your land because its cheaper to come up here and get a law passed than to let the court make the decision,'" said Miller.

Republican majority leader Mitch Carmicahel was the lead sponsor of the bill. He, Senate President Bill Cole, and 9 other Republicans were the only votes cast in favor. 

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