FERC Allows Construction to Resume on Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cleared the way for construction to resume on the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline, modifying a stop-work order that derailed the project in early August.

The FERC action authorizes construction of about 200 miles of the 300-mile project in West Virginia and Virginia.  In a letter dated Wednesday, FERC cited an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which concluded that planned construction through Jefferson National Forest is the best available route.

Construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) was halted after a U.S. appeals court ruled that certain aspects of federal agency approvals for the project had failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Mineral Leasing Act and the National Forest Management Act.

Mountain Valley is one of several pipelines expected to enter service over the next year or two to connect growing output in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the United States and Canada.  It is designed to deliver up to 2 billion cubic feed projected to cost $3.5 billion to $3.7 billion.

Mountain Valley is owned by units of EQT, NextEra Energy Inc, Consolidated Edison Inc, AlatGas Ltd and RGC Resources Inc. EQT Midstream Partners LP will operate the pipeline and owns a significant interest in the venture.

In a statement released today, the MVP joint venture partners thanked the BLM for its prompt review and additional analysis of route options with respect to federal lands, adding that the latest conclusion "confirms that MVP's existing route minimizes impacts to sensitive species and environmental, cultural, and historic resources in the Forest."

"In addition, we are pleased with the Court’s decision to reinstate the West Virginia 404 permit, which supports the ‘dry-ditch’ method of crossing waterbodies as originally approved by both the FERC and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection," the MVP statement continued.

"With these orders issued by the FERC and the Fourth Circuit Court, MVP is now able to return approximately 1,000 workers who have been suspended from their duties on the project. As we continue with safe and responsible construction activities along the vast majority of the route, we will coordinate with the agencies to address the Court's concerns with the Federal Land Permits.

MVP continues to evaluate its construction plans and reiterates a full in-service target during the fourth quarter 2019.

P&GJ staff with Reuters staff reports

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