Aug. 30–WASHINGTON, D.C. — Work on most of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) can resume as a means to minimize any impact on the environment.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the order Wednesday.
Terry Turpin, director of FERC’sOffice of Energy Projects (OEP), said in a statement that “protection of the environment along the project’s right-of-way across non-federal land is best served by completing construction and restoration activities as quickly as possible.”
About 200 miles of the 303-mile route of the 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline from Wetzel County to Chatham, Va. will be impacted.
Turpin said 65 percent of the project’s right-of-way between mileposts 77 and 303 has been cleared of vegetation, with a significant portion of that length having been graded.
In those cleared and graded segments, Mountain Valley has installed temporary erosion control devices. However, Turpin said that “long-term temporary erosion control measures would subject significant portions of the route to erosion and soil movement” and “would likely pose threats to plant and wildlife habitat and adjacent waterbodies.” Similarly, requiring immediate restoration of the entire right-of-way to pre-construction conditions would require significant additional
construction activity, causing further long-term environmental impacts.
The authorization does not apply to the crossing of federal land. In a ruling by The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond last month, the court canceled the permits from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service to allow the pipeline to go across federal land, saying the federal agencies’ decision did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.
On Aug. 5, FERC ordered a total work stoppage, later restoring work on the first 77 miles of the pipeline in West Virginia because of those environmental concerns.
Work on the pipeline in Monroe and Giles counties stopped and MVP recently announced about 50 percent of its workforce on the pipeline had been laid off.
Wednesday’s authorization does not include the crossing of the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike on West Virginia lands owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and land between mileposts 196 and 221, which encompasses the two watersheds containing 3.5 miles of pipeline route across the Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (Monroe and Giles counties across Peters Mountain).
The MVP has said it will work to meet all regulatory requirements and continues to plan to finish the pipeline, but the estimated date of completion has been moved to late 2019. The $3.5 billion project was initially slated to be complete by the end of his year.
Monroe County landowner and pipeline opponent Maury Johnson said the action was anticipated.
“Although today’s action by FERC and the BLM was not unexpected, the swiftness of their action goes to show that no real effort was made to analyze the concerns outlined by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals,” he said. “We will continue to fight for our water, air, environment and property rights and demand that the courts do what our state and federal agencies have not done and protect the citizens of West Virginia and Virginia from this predatory corporation, whose only concern is its profits over the lives and livelihood of those citizens who will be severely and irreparably harmed if this project is allowed to continue.”
“Just when I was getting used to no equipment beeping and empty man-camps…another illogical FERC decision,” said Monroe County landowner Becky Crabtree. “The continuation of an unneeded, environmentally harmful pipeline remains short-sighted and profit-driven. In spite of this continuing corrupt process, which I feel has stolen landowners’ rights, resistance to MVP seems to be strengthening.”
Crabtree was recently arrested and charged with obstruction after staging a pipeline protest. She placed her vintage 1971 Pinto on wooden blocks in the path of the pipeline running across her property.
She was in the Pinto and peacefully exited with police.
Crabtree had refused to give MVP an easement on her and her husband’s land, but the court approved the easement using eminent domain.
“I was arrested on my own land,” she said.
Groups in Monroe and Summers counties in West Virginia and Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Franklin counties in Virginia have protested the pipeline for about four years, when the plan was first aired.
Citing dangers associated with water quality, steep and rugged terrain, impact on the beauty and quality of the environment, and explosions, many residents in the counties impacted have been attending meetings on the pipeline, staging rallies, presenting court challenges and creating a movement to stop it.
The pipeline route cuts through the northeastern portion of Summers County then into the northwestern corridor of Monroe County north of Wayside, going south and crossing Rt. 219 east of Lindside, just west of Cook’s Run Road.
It then goes up Peter’s Mountain and exits into Giles County north of Pearisburg. This is the area of national forest land where work permits were canceled by the court.
In Giles County, the proposed route then goes east, roughly north of and following of U.S. 460, through the Newport area and exiting into Montgomery County in the far western point of the county.
According to the MVP website, the underground pipeline would will require approximately 50 feet of permanent easement (with up to 125 feet of temporary easement during construction).
The project is a joint venture with several companies, including EQT of Pittsburgh.
Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com.
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