Energy, Environment, State Government, US Supreme Court

Gov. Justice files U.S. Supreme Court brief supporting completion of Mountain Valley Pipeline

MORGANTOWN — Gov. Jim Justice is the latest in the line of elected officials urging the U.S. Supreme Court to enable resumption of Mountain Valley Pipeline construction.

Justice announced his amicus — friend of the court — brief in the case during his Wednesday administration update.

“We absolutely need that pipeline to go, we don’t need any more delays,” he said. “We’ll anxiously await their ruling.”

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Appeals Court earlier this month issued a stay on the MVP under the Endangered Species Act and granted a stay of the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to allow the pipeline to be constructed through the Jefferson National Forest while the court considers The Wilderness Society’s challenge to that decision.

MVP appealed to the Supreme Court to lift the stays.

Section 324 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Biden, determines that “the timely completion of construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is required in the national interest.” It approves all authorizations, permits and other approvals necessary to complete construction of the pipeline and allow it to begin operation.

Justice asks the Supreme Court to uphold Section 324 to restart MVP construction.

He says in his brief, “West Virginians have been waiting for this project to be completed for years. There are thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in critically important tax revenue to the State of West Virginia at stake. There are significant property rights and hundreds of millions of dollars in royalty revenues to West Virginia property owners at stake. There is a resource in the ground that has tremendous monetary value to those who own it and those who work it, but only if the gas can be transported to the market.”

His argument is similar to those previously put forth by Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

He says Congress changed the law applicable to the project to expressly ratify and approve all authorizations, permits, and other approvals. “There can be no doubt that Congress has the authority to change the law applicable to pending cases” While the MVP opponents suit challenges whether the approvals and permits issued by various agencies are within those agencies’ statutory authority, “the FRA unambiguously confers statutory authority on those approvals, rendering moot the present lawsuit and depriving the lower courts of jurisdiction to enjoin further work.”

He also similarly argues the FRA transfers all MVP-related litigation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Fourth Circuit has no jurisdiction, so the two stays are moot.

MVP supporters have repeatedly noted that the same three Fourth Circuit judges — with a political agenda — have presided over every denial of MVP permits, in violation of court rules that panels are supposed to be selected at random.

MVP is a 303.5-mile pipeline that will carry natural gas from Wetzel County to southern Virginia. Most of the pipeline is in place, except for 3.5 miles through the Jefferson National Forest and the stream crossings, which remain the focus of ongoing litigation.

Justice’s emailed announcement of the brief notes that MVP will also require three compressor stations, with identified locations in Wetzel, Braxton, and Fayette counties.

He cites the America First Policy Institute, which reports that the pipeline is expected to employ more than 2,500 workers, provide $131 million in tax revenues to Virginia and West Virginia, and provide an additional $45 million in annual tax revenue to Virginia and West Virginia.

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp