Mountain Valley Pipeline Back Thanks to McCarthy-Biden Debt Deal

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.

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6 responses to “Mountain Valley Pipeline Back Thanks to McCarthy-Biden Debt Deal”

  1. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    keep believing that.

  2. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Shame on me for not diving into this yet, but I also remain skeptical this will be that easy. The opponents are well funded and fanatic. The courts are applying one set of standards to fossil fuels and a different set to favored renewables. But I must say the roadblock in the Senate Tim Kaine put up sure fizzled with a bunch of his fellow Democrats throwing him under the bus.

    I don’t like Congress deciding a particular project is “in the public interest” any more than I like the General Assembly doing so. But apparently there is precedent and reports I’ve seen are the courts will likely not overturn what Congress did. If the case is brought, however, more time will be wasted and this important project further delayed and facing added cost. That has been the strategy all along, delay and drive up the cost.

    The irony is that leaving it half finished with all the exposed disturbed land all but guarantees erosion and runoff. The fix is to finish it, bury it back, restore the vegetation, and everybody will forget it is even there. I’ve got one nearby us in Henrico.

    1. Moderate Avatar

      Is the pipeline near you a transmission pipeline 42 inches in diameter? How much pressure is behind the gas in it? How far are you from it? What is the impact zone if something goes wrong? Does the gas carry an odorant so you can smell it if it escapes? Risk increases with size, pressure, and close distance. There are pipelines and pipelines. The huge gashes across mountains and forests, which are not recovering well even in areas that are supposedly finished, ensure than no one will be able to forget the MVP is here.

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      I dunno, Steve. Somebody made a clear ton o’ money with an incredibly well-timed options trade just before the announcement. That’s short term gain, so that’ll provide a measure of revenue. Might make going through with it worth it.

  3. Moderate Avatar

    Bent Mountain is the segment near Roanoke. Not Bear Mountain.

    They also have to cross most of the waterways, I81 and US460/11. When they tried to do 460/11 water filled their holes faster then they could pump it out. The work is less than 60% complete and the quality of work has been awful. Not many of us trust the pipe to be safe if it’s ever put into use. The steep slopes are numerous and unprecedented. The pipe has been sitting in sun for years longer than safety allows.

    Call opponents fanatics if you like, but we do not need this pipeline. IF it is completed it will soon be a stranded asset. Many landowners have spent untold hours and dollars attempting to protect our land – and there is no form of compensation available. Costs prohibit many from attempting to fight. Landowners get little, including respect during the process and definitely do not get guarantees of safety if the pipeline is put into service. There have been more construction issues than I can list and many led to fines. Unfortunately, the fines don’t seem to lead to better construction. More than one landowner is now without usable water in their homes, has broken caves, and other damage the company won’t do anything about. Promises of local jobs and purchases didn’t materialize.

    Manchin found it impossible to pass the law under normal rules. Many may be affected when the tactic of attaching something unrelated to must-pass legislation is used more often. Congress may declare other things “in the public interest” and unfairly block access to courts and specify specific courts.

    Permitting reform is needed. Badly. Unfortunately, this legislation took things in exactly the wrong direction. It failed to address the problem of companies’ lack of respect for landowners and existing businesses, their failure to fairly include all affected parties early in the process, their failure to provide all information to agencies, the poor quality of documents that ignore the issues raised by landowners and communities, etc. Eminent domain abuse is so routine that Congress should at a minimum, remove automatic approval for eminent domain from FERC certification to require companies to truly “negotiate” with landowners instead of threatening condemnation from the first encounter. Folks now say that further permitting reform is impossible since the industry got all it wanted and there is no appetite to address our concerns.

    There is a whole lot that the general public and even decision makers do not know about the processes and experiences landowners and communities face. The MVP has its most treacherous spots to build across and without an unreal addition of funding to have enough crews to do everything at once, it’s likely impossible for the work to be completed in 2023.

    The MVP should have been killed long ago. Opponents are mad and unwilling to be sacrificed. It’s not over.

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