Senators question federal regulators on pipeline policy

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 9:12 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, DC. (WDBJ) - The Mountain Valley Pipeline was in the spotlight Thursday in Washington, as a Senate committee focused attention on federal regulators and the natural gas projects they oversee.

At issue was a recent policy shift by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that regulates projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The new Democratic majority on the commission recently indicated it will consider the impact on climate change as it reviews pipeline projects.

US Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“In my view there is an effort underway by some to inflict death by a thousand cuts,” Manchin said during his opening remarks.

During a hearing that called on FERC members to explain their actions, Manchin defended MVP and similar projects.

“If the Mountain Valley Pipeline is not completed, and it’s 95% done - over $5 billion, twice the cost because of court interjection -” Manchin said. “If that one is not, there will not be another investment taking the most abundant, plentiful, gas reserves out of an area that could basically backfill, so we don’t have another Texas, so that we have LNG, so that we can do the things we need to.”

Russell Chisholm is Coordinator of Mountain Valley Watch and Co-Chair of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition (POWHR).

Chisholm and other pipeline opponents dispute the assertion that the project is almost complete.

“We have maps that show it’s roughly three-quarters of a mile, before they come to the first incomplete crossing,” Chisholm said. “That is the distance from mile post zero to where the pipe is not connected together to the rest of the route. And that is true all along the route.”

They also cite the key permits MVP lacks, the number of stream crossings that remain and the company’s own status reports that indicate final restoration of the pipeline right-of-way is now about 55% complete.

“Our arguments about MVP have been consistent throughout,” Chisholm told WDBJ7 in an interview. “It’s bad for local water sources, it’s bad for land rights issues, for people who have tried to good stewards of the land,” he said.

A new argument in favor of projects like MVP is the need to supply European allies with energy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Opponents dismiss that as an industry talking point that doesn’t diminish the environmental concerns.

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