by Shaun Kenney
As part of the debt ceiling deal, the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), long thought dead, is now suddenly back in the cards.
But don’t expect bulldozers back in Virginia anytime soon, as the 4th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is not expected to grant permission to cross any streams or wetlands before 15 June. From The Roanoke Times:
Efforts to obtain the permit — the last major approval needed to restart construction that has been stalled since the fall of 2021 — were underway well before the Mountain Valley provision was added to the debt ceiling bill at the urging of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Most importantly for Mountain Valley, the bill prohibits any legal challenge of the Army Corps permit or any other government approval.
Since work on the pipeline began in 2018, the Fourth Circuit has thrown out about a dozen permits, siding with environmental groups who argued that agencies failed to take adequate steps to limit muddy runoff from the construction sites.
A pending lawsuit over the fate of endangered species in the pipeline’s path, and a potential legal challenge of a permit allowing its passage through the Jefferson National Forest, will be rendered moot as soon as the law takes effect.
The deal to bring the Mountain Valley Pipeline back to life was supported by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) against the protestations Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Kaine eventually joined Manchin in voting “yes” for the debt ceiling deal.
Mountain Valley Pipeline advocates state that the energy pipeline is 94% completed, a number disputed by environmentalists. The pipeline has yet to be constructed over two important stretches of Virginia — Bear Mountain near Roanoke and the Thomas Jefferson National Forest.
Shaun Kenney is the editor of The Republican Standard, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Fluvanna County, and a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.