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Environmental groups bemoan regulatory MVP extension

Mountain Valley Pipeline
Steve Helber
The Mountain Valley Pipeline would carry gas more than 300 miles from the fracking fields of West Virginia through much of southwestern Virginia.

Environmental groups are raising the alarm after federal regulators granted another extension to a natural gas pipeline.

Back in 2020, federal regulators gave a two-year extension to developers of the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline. Now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is granting another extension – this time four more years for the group to obtain all the necessary permits and complete construction.

David Sligh at Wild Virginia says federal regulators are ignoring environmental damage that's already happened from the pipeline.

"We found well more than 600 instances where sediment was deposited off of MVP's right-of-way, which means that it was essentially imposed on adjacent landowners," Sligh explains. "And in more than 100 of those cases, that sediment was deposited in our waters."

Tim Cywinski at the Sierra Club says federal regulators are shirking their duty.

"This really is unprecedented. FERC has never given two extensions to something like this, especially when the Mountain Valley Pipeline has failed to secure four different key permits that are required to complete construction," Cywinski says. "It's a bad deal for investors, and it's a bad deal for Virginians. We don't need the Mountain Valley Pipeline."

As a result of the horse-trading needed to secure West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin's vote on the Inflation Reduction Act, some are expecting an effort to streamline the permitting process in a way that might benefit the Mountain Valley Pipeline. No specific language to do that has been drafted yet.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.