The Mountain Valley Pipeline, which seeks to transmit fracked natural gas from Northern West Virginia to markets in Virginia and North Carolina, has been on hold since 2018. At that time the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacated authorizations issued by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service for the pipeline to cross certain areas of the Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia.
On December 17, 2020 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a resumption of construction in a portion of the disputed area. At issue was a request from MVP to limit a 25-mile zone in the National Forest in which construction was still barred, reducing it to two smaller sections totaling about 7 miles.
Environmental groups and FERC Commissioner Richard Glick, who dissented from the Order, argue that MVP should not be permitted to dig in the newly approved area because the project still lacks the permits necessary to cross streams in the final 7 miles.
“It makes no sense to allow pipeline developers to dig up land, potentially impact landowners and the community, until the private business has all its permits to move forward along the route,” Glick said.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that in a December 9 hearing before a U.S. House subcommittee, Chairman Jamie Raskin revealed that FERC has approved 99% of applications for natural gas projects in the past 20 years. In just the past 12 years, FERC approved 89 of 92 requests to extend the time frame for construction projects behind schedule while not approving any landowner appeals.