Mountain Valley Pipeline and opponents react to stop work order

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Officials with the Mountain Valley Pipeline says they're confident work will resume soon, following a stop work order issued Friday.

Opponents of the project welcome the delay as they continue to press their objections with the courts and state and federal agencies.

At issue is MVP's right-of-way in the Jefferson National Forest.

Just 3.5 miles of the 303-mile route, it includes the area on Peters Mountain where tree sitters protested for months.

After a federal appeals court vacated permits issued by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management late last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the stop work order for the entire length of the project.

'This is some of the best news we've heard yet, of course," said Dan Crawford, Sierra Club Roanoke Group Chair.

Opponents like Crawford are celebrating the stop work order, even if it isn't the permanent hold they want to see.

"Now we understand anyone can talk their way through permits, but having what they're doing survive in court, stand up to scrutiny, to have the agencies who ruled have their rulings stand up in court that's a different measure," Crawford said.

And the Director of the Sierra Club's Virginia Chapter said the delay will help opponents make their case for a stream-by-stream analysis.

"And hope that residents will take this opportunity that we have now with a little bit more time, to continue to reach out to the Governor and make sure that the state Department of Environmental Quality knows that they want to see them take action," said Kate Addleson.

In a news release, MVP said it is confident federal regulators reached the right conclusion when they approved the permits, and the company said it believes the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management will be able to satisfy the requirements of the federal appeals court.

“We agree with the FERC that the USFS and BLM will be able to satisfy the Fourth Circuit Court’s requirements regarding their respective decisions; and we believe that the two agencies will work quickly to supplement their initial records. In addition, we are confident that the BLM has reached the correct conclusion during their initial analysis of alternatives in the JNF and agree that MVP’s current route has the least overall impact to the environment. MVP had previously halted operations in the JNF, with exception of work needed to manage any unnecessary environmental erosion and maintain slope stability. We will continue to closely coordinate with all agencies to resolve these challenges as they work to have the right-of-way grants reissued. While disappointed with this recent setback, MVP is confident in the BLM’s alternatives analysis, as well as with the approvals received by state and federal agencies; and we look forward to continuing the safe construction of this important infrastructure project.”

MVP said it looks forward to continuing construction, and hopes to have the project in service in the first quarter of 2019.