A. Barton Hinkle on Virginia Trampling Property Rights

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thought experiment: What are the odds of the Virginia General Assembly passing a law that allowed private individuals to enter the headquarters of the energy company Dominion Resources over the company's objections—so long as the individuals had a good reason to, and gave the company advance notice?

The question answers itself. Yet 11 years ago, writes A. Barton Hinkle, the state passed a law allowing natural-gas companies to trespass on private property "to make examinations, tests, land auger borings, appraisals and surveys without the written consent of the owner." Dominion is now using that law against scores of landowners in Nelson and Augusta counties who have rejected the company's request for access to their property because they object to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline the company plans to build.

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