Federal Appellate Court Halts Mountain Valley Construction Pipeline Construction

Federal Appellate Court Halts Mountain Valley Construction Pipeline Construction
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Both West Virginia and Virginia wetlands have received a temporary cease order delivered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit halting construction of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

“Upon review of submissions relative to the Motion for Temporary Administrative Stay, the motion is granted in order to permit time for the court to fully consider the Motion to Stay,” wrote Clerk Patricia S. Connor in the orders. “The Temporary Administrative Stay shall remain in effect until such time as the court has ruled on the Motion for Stay.”

Previous construction halt

Previously halted, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission provided its approval for construction to recommence, excluding a 25-mile section located in western Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest. Eight environmental groups, however, requested the federally re-issued permits of the pipeline with a $5.7 billion price tag. Construction was later halted due to the rescinding of permits.

MVP future

According to the Roanoke Times, Mountain Valley  lacks the capability to burrow under approximately 1000 waterways in West Virginia and Virginia. Furthermore, construction taking place elsewhere along the pipeline is currently unclear.

FERC Commissioner Richard Glick dissented on both approvals where developers requested an extension and asked that the stop-work order be lifted.

“[FERC] argues that recommencing construction is somehow better for the environment and landowners, even though both environmental groups and landowners oppose that decision,” wrote Glick.

Responding to Mountain Valley’s request, approximately 43,000 people voiced their objections to FERC. Concerns ranged from the company’s 350 environmental violations incurred and $2.26 million in fines administered in West Virginia and Virginia.

Equitrans’ expectations

According to Equitrans Midstream Corp, the company will be determining the cost and timing of Mountain Valley’s completion. Decisions will be based on continued litigation and the expected looming federal approvals.

“We acknowledge the legal challenge that is currently before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and have agreed to temporarily delay stream and waterbody activities out of respect for that process,” said Equitrans.

Expecting the Mountain Valley Pipeline project to come into service near the middle of 2021, Height Capital Markets analysts acknowledged that the legal challenges preventing stream crossings could potentially delay coming online. Should this be the case, 2021’s third quarter could be the new targeted time period.

Still expecting the early 2021 completion date, Equitrans indicated the pipeline is approximately 92% complete. No matter the reasoning, causes and external pressures, Equitrans missed their original expected date and price having stated in 2018 that the project would cost $3.5 billion at completion during the end of 2018.