- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday authorized the Mountain Valley Pipeline to proceed with some construction in West Virginia, though the work is limited to access roads and construction staging areas for now.
- FERC has also asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject a proposed stay of construction brought by five environmental groups broadly opposed to the pipeline. Regulators told the court that granting the stay would break precedent with how courts have been dealt with pipeline cases in the past.
- Mountain Valley Pipeline would stretch 300 miles through Virginia and West Virginia, but the controversial project has faced opposition at ever turn. Earlier this month, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked FERC to grant rehearing of two pipeline certificates it approved last year: Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Once construction begins in earnest on pipeline development, opponents know how difficult it is to stop — even if successful, it may be too late to satisfy their environmental concerns. As Mountain Valley has moved closer to beginning work, opposition has become more feverish.
The request for a stay was made by five groups on Jan. 8, including: Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and Wild Virginia.
"Once private property is taken, mature trees are cut, steep slopes denuded, wetlands filled, trenches dug, and a high pressure large-diameter pipeline is laid and filled with gas, the court can no longer restore the status quo,” the groups told the court.
FERC however argues that request breaks with precedent and would circumvent the commission's review process. The commission approved the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline projects in separate 2-1 votes in October. Atlantic Coast will run 600 miles, stretching from West Virginia into North Carolina, along with three planned compressor stations.
Last week, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation appealed the Virginia State Water Control Board's decision to issue a water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The petition, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, is the first step to addressing water quality issues, the group said.
"The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has the potential to damage Virginia waterways from the Allegheny Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, so its construction and operation must be held to the strictest environmental standards possible," CBF Vice President for Litigation Jon Mueller said in a statement.