West Virginia Approves Key Permit for Controversial Natural Gas Pipeline
23:24 GMT 31.12.2021 (Updated: 13:27 GMT 06.08.2022)
The Mountain Valley Pipeline, led by Equitrans Midstream Corporation, seeks to transport natural gas to US markets in Mid- and South Atlantic regions. The 303-mile natural gas pipeline was originally projected to be in service by the end of 2018, but faces significant hurdles due to local opposition and environmental concerns.
West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) moved to grant on Friday a key permit to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, certifying that the proposed pipeline project has met the state's water quality standards.
The water protection individual permit allows for the construction of the proposed pipeline to proceed in West Virginia. According to the department, the pipeline is estimated to impact 1,276 feet of streams, and less than one-half of an acre of wetlands.
Over 20,000 feet of streams and 12 acres of wetlands will be temporarily impacted by construction, the WVDEP noted.
West Virginia's approval was also required before the US Army Corps of Engineers could proceed with the project's dredge-and-fill permits.
The fossil fuel pipeline, currently projected to cost $6.2 billion, is slated to run from Northern West Virginia to Southern Virginia. The 303-mile system will pass through the West Virginia counties of Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Braxton, Webster, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers, and Monroe.
Equitrans has projected that the pipeline could begin service by summer 2022. However, the project will likely be impeded by legal challenges that have already commenced in Virginia.
The Friday announcement was immediately opposed by both the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) coalition and Appalachian Voices.
"Contrary to robust evidence that the MVP cannot be built without violating state water quality standards — and despite the company’s wretched environmental track record — the West Virginia’s DEP has regrettably granted MVP new permission to pollute, noted Appalachian Voices Virginia Policy Director Peter Anderson.
Anderson also called on the administration of US President Joe Biden to intervene and join public opposition to the "unneeded project" that "is not in the public interest."
Roberta Bondurant, co-chair of the POWHR coalition, panned the project as "unnecessary and harmful," and called on West Virginians to fight climate change by relinquishing an ongoing "greed and gluttony for massive fossil fuel infrastructure."