- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has vacated a water quality certificate issued to the Mountain Valley Pipeline project in order to "re-evaluate the complete application," officials said.
- According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, DEP was supposed to file a brief this week in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, responding to environmental groups' allegations the agency failed to perform a complete review.
- The EQT Corp. project is designed to provide up to 2 million dekatherms per day of firm transmission capacity to markets in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions of the United States.
Loss of the water quality permit is a major setback for Mountain Valley Pipeline backers. The DEP reportedly chose to withdraw the certificate during a deadline to file a brief defending the agency's decision to issue a water permit.
Several groups, including the Sierra Club and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, had challenged the pipeline and DEP's review, saying it did not adequately assess potential impacts.
DEP spokesman Jake Glance told West Virginia Public Radio that "it was determined that the information used to issue that certification needs to be further evaluated and possibly enhanced." The decision also came after West Virginia officials discovered water permit violations along the route of Energy Transfer Partners' Rover Pipeline project in August.
A copy of the DEP's Sept. 7 decision to vacate the authorization can be found here. According to the letter, the decision will allow the DEP "to re-evaluate the complete application to determine whether the state's certification is in compliance with Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act."
Staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over the summer issued a final environmental impact statement concluding the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline project could go forward without causing excessive impacts to the environment. Opponents of the project filed a lawsuit in July challenging FERC's eminent domain authority, as landowners worry about the potential impact to property.
Partners in the Mountain Valley Pipeline project are aiming for a late 2018 in-service date. EQT will operate the pipeline and own a significant interest, along with NextEra US Gas Assets, Con Edison Transmission, WGL Midstream, and RGC Midstream. The line will also extend the Equitrans transmission system in Wetzel County, W.Va., to Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Zone 5 compressor station in Pittsylvania County, Va.