Mountain Valley Gas Pipeline Permit Approved to Build in Appalachian National Forest

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    The Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline was approved late Monday to cover 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest, which is located between West Virgi
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    US Supreme Court removes obstacle to Mountain Valley Pipeline

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday removed an obstacle to completing the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline, dealing a blow to environmental groups opposed to the West Virginia-to-Virginia pipeline led by energy company Equitrans Midstream (ETRN).

    The justices granted Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC’s request to lift stays imposed by a lower court that had halted construction of a final short section of the 303-mile (488-km) natural gas pipeline. That section is a 3.5-mile (5.6-km) corridor through the federally owned Jefferson National Forest.

    The $6.6 billion project has been tangled in numerous court fights since construction began in 2018. Mountain Valley is owned by units of Equitrans Midstream, the lead partner building the pipeline, as well as NextEra Energy (NEE.N), Consolidated Edison (ED.N), AltaGas (ALA.TO) and RGC Resources (RGCO.O), among others.

    Shares of Equitrans rallied on the news, gaining 9.4% to $10.13 a share.

    The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month had blocked construction of the final unfinished section while it reviewed the project’s federal approvals.

    The pipeline received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June to restart construction. The pipeline is considered key to unlocking more gas supplies from Appalachia, the biggest shale gas-producing basin in the United States. It aims to deliver gas to existing pipelines and service other customers in the U.S. mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions.

    Environmentalists have said that the project would harm soil and water quality in the forest and increase the use of natural gas, a leading fossil fuel and greenhouse gas emitter.

    Approval of the Mountain Valley project was included in the debt limit deal struck in May between President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican. Its inclusion was championed by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key vote in the Senate and one of the largest recipients in Congress of donations from fossil fuel companies.

    Manchin, who filed a brief urging the justices to lift the construction delay, praised the court’s action.

    “The Supreme Court has spoken and this decision to let construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline move forward again is the correct one,” he said. “I am relieved that the highest court in the land has upheld the law Congress passed and the president signed.”

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