Withdrawal of energy legislation buoys pipeline opponents

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 8:46 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDBJ) - Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline claimed a victory Tuesday evening, when US Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) withdrew legislation that would have fast-tracked fossil fuel projects, and cleared the way for the MVP.

For now, opponents are breathing easier and the pipeline company is vowing to keep moving toward completion.

“I am so happy to see this taken off the agenda,” said pipeline opponent Red Terry, during a teleconference Wednesday morning. “It’s like I said at the Capitol, we can’t take two steps forward and ten back.”

In 2018, Terry was protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline from a tree on her Bent Mountain property. This week, she was in Washington with other opponents of the project, there to fight Sen. Manchin’s proposal.

It was part of the continuing resolution that will keep the government operating through mid-December, but the permitting reforms and specific provisions involving the Mountain Valley Pipeline had drawn opposition from enough Democrats and Republicans that it was unlikely to pass.

“I had no doubt. I had no doubt that we had to stop this this week,” said Maury Johnson, a pipeline opponent from Monroe Co., West Virginia. “I thought we might have to do it in the House. I thought yesterday morning, we might actually have a chance to make some changes or delay it in the Senate, but I didn’t think we would kill it on the first day. So that was a pleasant surprise.”

At the same time, opponents say they realize their fight isn’t over on Capitol Hill.

“We know this isn’t dead yet,” said pipeline opponent Hal Ginsberg, “but we’re going to continue to work with Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the other groups in coalition, continue to make thousands of calls to the senators demanding that they respect the land, respect the people who live there.”

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said the company is disappointed the proposal will not receive a vote at this time.

But Natalie Cox said the pipeline is now recognized as a critical infrastructure project that is essential to our nation’s energy security, reliability and transition to a lower-carbon future.

She said the company will continue to work to secure the permits it needs to complete the project. And MVP said the company will work with West Virginia Senators Manchin and Capito to identify a legislative alternative that can move forward in Washington.

The full text of the Mountain Valley Pipeline statement follows:

“While we are disappointed that the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 will not receive a vote at this time, MVP’s path to completion has not changed. We have been working and will continue to work with relevant agencies for the reissuance of MVP’s previously issued Biological Opinion and permit to cross the Jefferson National Forest, as well as the issuance of the project’s 404 Permit related to waterbody/wetland crossings.”

“We applaud the efforts of Senators Manchin and Capito who understand, and have been working to address, the permitting issues that are hindering America’s energy progress and diminishing our ability to execute a timely transition to clean energy. The need for comprehensive permitting reform is just as important for the continued development of renewables as it is for the ongoing development of fossil fuels and related infrastructure projects, and we expect to engage with Senators Manchin and Capito as they work to identify a potential alternative legislative solution in the near-term.”

“For the past several months, it is clear that MVP is being recognized as a critical infrastructure project that is essential for our nation’s energy security, energy reliability, and ability to effectively transition to a lower-carbon future. Once in-service, MVP will deliver 2 Bcf/day of natural gas to the center of the mid-Atlantic market, at a time when domestic energy production remains a key national security issue. MVP’s capacity will help to meet the growing demand of the southeast market by providing reliable, affordable energy and, importantly, will deliver supply diversity to facilitate exports by acting as a backfill for the overall domestic supply that is needed to support the incremental growth in LNG exports. With total project work roughly 94% complete, we remain committed to working diligently with federal and state regulators to secure the necessary permits to safely and responsibly finish construction, and we remain committed to bringing the pipeline into service in the second half of 2023.”