$6.6B Mountain Valley Pipeline gets green light to finish construction

Dive Brief:

  • Construction on the controversial $6.6 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline can be finished after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its stamp of approval on Wednesday. When complete, the 300-mile pipeline will move methane gas from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia. 
  • The move comes after Congress included language in its recent debt ceiling deal to expedite the much-delayed project, limit judicial review and order federal regulators to grant all permits within weeks. The pipeline has been championed by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and is nearly complete.
  • Owner Equitrans Midstream Corp. said construction work should resume shortly, and it expects the project to wrap by the end of the year, according to West Virginia News. A joint venture composed of Equitrans Midstream, NextEra Energy, Consolidated Edison, AltaGas and RGC Resources is building the project. 

Dive Insight:

The pipeline broke ground in 2014 and was supposed to be finished by 2018, but was stalled by regulatory hurdles and a series of lawsuits. Environmental groups have argued the project will disrupt forests, waterways and endangered species, and represents an investment in fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when the country needs to shift to renewables to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Despite the odds, opponents have vowed to continue to fight the pipeline. They challenged the constitutionality of Congress’ inclusion of the pipeline in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, but a timely hearing isn’t guaranteed — Mountain Valley Pipeline has asked the federal appeals court to give it until July 10 to respond, and construction can advance until then.

West Virginia issued a water quality certification for the project on June 8, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued its own permit on June 23 for water crossings. FERC’s authorization marks the final approval needed for construction to resume.

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