CHARLESTON — The long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline has received final approval to conclude its construction.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signed off on final construction for the pipeline after it received its last permit and following a newly passed law that explicitly says its permits can no longer be challenged in court.
“Accordingly, Mountain Valley has all necessary authorizations for the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project. Mountain Valley is therefore authorized to proceed with all remaining construction associated with the project,” FERC wrote in this week’s order.
FERC wrote that its order specifically applies to construction in the Jefferson National Forest and with all remaining waterbody crossings.
“So, now they have a green light to start the engines and get this thing completed,” Jim Willis, founder and editor of Marcellus Drilling News, said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
The $6.6 billion pipeline project first got authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2017, but its completion has been delayed by regulatory hurdles and court challenges.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a proposed 303.5-mile interstate natural gas pipeline that would cross nine West Virginia counties to transport natural gas to East Coast markets. The pipeline’s developers have said they intend to bring the pipeline into service in the second half of 2023.
The developers have said the pipeline’s construction is near completion, but it faced multiple legal challenges to its permits, such as authorization to construct in the Jefferson National Forest.
Now, “Mountain Valley looks forward to flowing domestic natural gas this winter for the benefits of reliability and affordability in the form of lower natural gas prices for consumers, while also benefiting national energy security and helping to achieve state and national goals for lowering carbon emissions,” stated Natalie Cox, spokeswoman for lead developer Equitrans Midstream Corp.
Environmental groups were critical of the federal go-ahead to complete construction, saying the project will disrupt forest land, streams and species.
“For the sake of our communities, the climate and imperiled species, we urge the Biden Administration and federal agencies to uphold basic environmental safeguards for any construction undertaken by this company that has already violated environmental protections hundreds of times,” stated Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous.
Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, each publicly advocated for completion of the pipeline and voted for the federal legislation that ended legal challenges to the project.
Capito cheered the FERC order Thursday during an appearance on “Talk of the Town” on WAJR Radio.
“It’s good news because of delay, delay of something that has already been 95% completed. With all of the environmental permits in hand, they’re finally going to get to complete this,” Capito said.
“You’re going to have thousands of construction jobs, and it’s going to help with more development in the Marcellus shale, which puts more people to work, makes this country more energy independent, helps with keeping down the cost of energy and makes us more self-sufficient. I think it’s a win for the state, and win for the eastern seaboard.”
Capito said she’s confident that environmental permitters have appropriately reviewed the project.
“These are the Biden administration federal agencies that have issued permits saying they’ve satisfied the environmental oversight. So I think it will be good.
“And you know, if we’re going to move to renewables — which we are, when we talk about hydrogen and other things — you have to have pipelines to do this, so you have to have the common sense that goes along with it.”