West Virginia Advances Pipeline Project

Published July 7, 2017

West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has affirmed its Clean Water Act certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), advancing the natural-gas pipeline project toward construction.

The environmental law firm Appalachian Mountain Advocates requested a hearing to challenge the certification given in early May. In a letter dated May 10, 2017, DEP Secretary Austin Caperton denied the request without comment.

Upon completion, the $3.5 billion pipeline will run 300 miles, from West Virginia to Virginia, transporting natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. The pipeline will supply as much as 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to the Mid- and South-Atlantic regions of the United States, according to the project’s website.

Project developers estimate pipeline construction will create approximately 9,000 jobs in the two states, with average wages ranging from $49,300 in West Virginia to $56,200 in Virginia, producing more than $80 million in local tax revenue.

Desperate for Natural Gas, Jobs

Keith Pauley, chairman of the Cardinal Institute, says the jobs MVP will provide are sorely needed because of the coal industry’s continued struggles.

“West Virginia is desperate to build new natural-gas pipelines to safely transport our abundant and inexpensive shale gas to the Southeast region,” said Pauley. “The de facto moratorium on new pipeline construction under the Obama administration was the primary cause of the collapse of the natural-gas industry in the Mountain State, which cost our state over 50,000 high-wage jobs.”

In addition to the economic benefits MVP will provide, the pipeline’s detractors are ignoring the environmental benefits of pipelines compared to other forms of energy transportation, Pauley says.

“Pipelines are the safest method to transport natural gas,” Pauley said. “Safer than trucks, railroads or barges.”

Appalachian Mountain Advocates has requested the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review and reconsider the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) FERC produced for the project and undertake a new EIS on the grounds FERC’s EIS is “substantially lacking information for meaningful review,” according to a press statement issued by the group.

Activists Target Pipeline Investors

Appalachian Mountain Advocates is not the only group attempting to halt the MVP. Citing potential harm to drinking water and land along the route, an interstate activist coalition called Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights is targeting the pipeline’s financial backers, urging the account holders and investors at the six major banks financing MVP to divest their holdings and close their accounts.

The interference by out-of-state groups is troubling, Pauley says.

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline is opposed by radical environmental groups from outside West Virginia,” said Pauley. “They should keep their money and radical ideas outside our state and let West Virginians go to work powering America.”

MVP needs several more permits from the DEP before construction can begin. Once permitting is complete, MVP developers expect the pipeline to be in service during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Kathy Hoekstra ([email protected]) writes from Saginaw, Michigan.