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US Fish & Wildlife Reissues Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline 

The MVP still lacks several permits necessary to finish the project. CCCAN joins groups in seeking to block construction until ALL challenges are resolved.

Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reissued a Biological Opinion detailing the expected and potential impacts on wildlife from the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

The previously issued Biological Opinion was vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last year, concluding that the MVP’s environmental assessment did not adequately protect endangered species like the Roanoke logperch and the candy darter. In The most recent announcement, USFWS said that MVP has addressed those concerns and therefore reissued the document, removing one of several permitting barriers that must be resolved before the project can be completed.

However, USFWS noted that petitioners in Fourth Circuit litigation had submitted “voluminous materials” to the Service as they were in the process of finalizing this Opinion and those materials were not addressed. USFWS said that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other agencies will need to assess whether those materials contain new information that might prevent them from relying on this opinion to meet their obligations.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 303-mile gas pipeline running through West Virginia and western Virginia, that is majority-owned by Equitrans Midstream Corporation. The MVP is still waiting on verdicts from both the DC and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and requires a Clean Water Act 404 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, the MVP is seeking a renewed permit to cross the cherished Jefferson National Forest after two prior issuances were struck down by courts.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and other environmental groups are objecting to the new permit and seeking to block any construction until all permits are acquired and unchallenged.

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline still has much to answer for and a long way to go until the project is completed,” said Elle De La Cancela, CCAN’s Central Virginia Campaign Coordinator. “The company’s exorbitant track record of vacated permits and water quality violations should signal that the MVP is incapable of abiding by the law. Coupled with our national and necessary shift to clean energy, I’m questioning — and I imagine investors are, too  — how much money the MVP is willing to waste for a project that is billions of dollars over budget and totally out of step with national climate goals.”

In documents submitted to regulators, Equitrans pushed back the anticipated completion date of the MVP. The company now says it does not expect an in-service date by the end of this year. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is currently several years over timeline and $6 billion over budget.

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