Mountain Valley Pipeline

Long-haul fight for a healthy future.

This 42-inch natural gas “mega-pipeline” project carves a 200-mile scar across rugged terrain in West Virginia, clear-cutting and trenching through forested ridges, steep slopes, karst terrain and hundreds of streams and wetlands.


August 11, 2023

Court Dismisses Legal Challenges, but Safety Regulator Raises Concerns

Friday, August 11th, was a day of mixed news for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its Order dismissing the two pending cases before it – challenges to the endangered species “Biological Opinion” and to approvals granted to cross the Jefferson National Forest. The Court dismissed both on the basis of the special MVP “Section 324” of the debt ceiling bill.

Equally important as the very brief Order, however, is the Opinion (actually, opinions) by the 3-judge panel, which was written by Judge Wynn, with concurring opinions that made valuable added points by Judges Gregory and Thacker. While the specifics of Section 324 compelled their decision to dismiss the cases, the judges raise important concerns about that legislation regarding both separation of powers issues and the potential use of Section 324 as, in Judge Gregory’s words, “a blueprint for the construction of a natural gas pipeline by legislative fiat.”

But MVP’s “oversight” hassles are not over. Later the same afternoon, PHMSA (the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) issued a Notice of Proposed Safety Order to Equitrans Midstream (MVP’s lead partner and ultimate operator). The Notice cites conditions that may “pose a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment” and that “may present immediate risk if the pipeline is commissioned without remediation.”

PHMSA focuses both on the condition of existing pipes (including the increased possibility for corrosion after exposure above ground for so long, and for pipes buried underground without cathodic protection) and on the risk of land-movement (slips and landslides). Whether PHMSA is serious remains to be seen, but at least they are taking some responsibility to respond to significant safety issues that individuals, experts, and community and environmental groups have been bringing to the attention of PHMSA and other officials for years.

Construction Status: While there hasn’t been much activity yet in Monroe County, MVP equipment is at work next to the Greenbrier in preparation for a 1200+ ft bore under the river near Pence Springs. The bore construction might take 3 or more months according to MVP application materials.

Fourth Circuit Court Order/Opinion and PHMSA Notice:

Fourth Circuit Court Order dismissing Biological Opinion and Forest Service petitions, 8-11-23
Fourth Circuit Court Opinion, 8-11-23
PHMSA Notice of Proposed Safety Order to Equitrans Midstream, 8-11-23

Media coverage:

4th Circuit reluctantly drops Mountain Valley pipeline lawsuits, E&ENews, 8-14-23 (excellent summary of legal issues)
Federal court clears way for Mountain Valley Pipeline completion as regulators flag potential safety risks, WV Gazette-Mail, 8-11-23
As pipeline construction resumes, inspections are in order, Roanoke Times, 8-13-23

July 28, 2023

MVP Starts Construction Through All Steams, Wetlands, Rivers, Peters Mountain, and the Jefferson National Forest

On July 27 the US Supreme Court issued a brief order that vacated the stay orders preventing MVP from continuing with construction pending the results of the two petitions currently in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the same time, oral arguments were being heard in the Fourth Circuit about whether Senator Manchin’s special “Complete the MVP” Section 324 of the Fiscal Responsibility compelled the Fourth Circuit to dismiss those two appeal petitions that challenge the US Fish and Wildlife’s Biological Opinion (required by the Endangered Species Act) and the Forest Service/BLM approvals for MVP to cross the Jefferson National Forest.

Here’s the Supreme Court order and some initial media coverage:
Supreme Court order vacating MVP stays, 7-27-23
Supreme Court clears the way for pipeline construction favored by Manchin, Washington Post, 7-27-23
Supreme Court chief justice clears the way for MVP construction to resume, WV Gazette-Mail, 7-27-23
MVP construction can resume Supreme Court rules, Roanoke Times, 7-27-23
How the System Works: Joe Manchin’s Pipe Dream, Jim Hightower’s Lowdown (Substack), 7-25-23

Construction monitoring will now be a priority! Email if you would like to help.