Scenes from “Mountain Valley Pipeline: A Threat to our Trail, our Water and our Jobs”

courtesy Horizonline Pictures. Watch the video at appalachiantrail.org/mvp

Pipeline

/ By Laura Belleville

Pipeline

/ By Laura Belleville

MOUNTAIN VALLEY UPDATE

Federal authorities halted work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in August after an appeals court ruled that federal agencies neglected to follow environmental protections. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it had no choice but to order work on the multibillion-dollar Mountain Valley Pipeline stopped after a federal appeals court ruled that two federal agencies had neglected to follow important environmental protections when they approved the project.

The court found that the U.S. Forest Service had suddenly dropped — without any explanation — its longstanding concerns that soil erosion from the pipeline would harm rivers, streams, and aquatic life. It also found that the Bureau of Land Management approved a new construction path through the Jefferson National Forest, ignoring rules that favor sticking to existing utility rights-of-way.

Scenes from “Mountain Valley Pipeline: A Threat to our Trail, our Water and our Jobs” courtesy Horizonline Pictures. Watch the video at appalachiantrail.org/mvp

Projects like the MVP require a variety of approvals before being built. Developers and regulators must study various alternatives, describe a clear need for the project, and show that steps will be taken to minimize damage to the environment and reduce negative effects on valuable resources like public lands and the water supply.

While FERC is generally the lead agency for interstate pipeline proposals, permits and approvals are needed from a variety of other agencies. Groups opposing MVP, including private landowners and conservation organizations, have challenged the projects, raising issues about taking private lands through eminent domain for private business gains, significant impacts to water quality from development on steep slopes, and impacts to scenic and other natural and cultural resources along A.T. corridor lands.

Among the many MVP permits that have been challenged is one called a “401 Certification,” issued under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. That section was intended to give states an opportunity to protect state water resources even when the project is managed by a federal authority. If a state wanted to step in and block such a project, it could refuse certification. States also may attach additional conditions to their certifications. Or they can waive their authority altogether.

Scenes from “Mountain Valley Pipeline: A Threat to our Trail, our Water and our Jobs”

courtesy Horizonline Pictures. Watch the video at appalachiantrail.org/mvp

Despite several citations for inadequate erosion and sedimentation over the last few months as MVP clears a pipeline corridor and trenches to lay and bury a pipeline, the Virginia Water Board Authority did not vacate MVP’s water permits in late August. Instead, the Water Board determined that Virginia agencies will buckle down on enforcement for any permit violations.

In its “stop work” order in August, FERC said, “there is no reason to believe” that the federal agencies involved would not “ultimately issue” new permits that would withstand the court’s scrutiny. But until then, FERC ordered that “construction activity along all portions of the project and in all work areas must cease immediately.”

Scenes from “Mountain Valley Pipeline: A Threat to our Trail, our Water and our Jobs” courtesy Horizonline Pictures. Watch the video at appalachiantrail.org/mvp

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has questioned the environmental review process for MVP in all its written comments. Our staff will continue to engage in a renewed environmental review process. The ATC also offered comments on FERC’s recent review of its 1999 pipeline siting process.

For more information about these comments and to stay abreast of project developments visit:
appalachiantrail.org/mountain-valley-pipeline

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