New developments arise from both sides of pipeline debate

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 7:38 PM EST

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - There were new developments this week in the debate involving the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

One involved legislation that could clear the path for the project. The other was a call from opponents to provide a more thorough review.

The legislation was announced Thursday by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania).

It’s similar to the proposal US Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) offered in September, that would streamline permitting for fossil fuel projects and clear the way for completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Sen. Toomey and a Pennsylvania Republican in the House of Representatives introduced companion bills.

By approving the legislation, Toomey said in a news release, Congress would “create regulatory certainty for pipeline construction nationwide and greenlight the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

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Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents said they weren’t surprised to see the proposal resurface, but said lawmakers should reject it again.

Roberta Bondurant and Grace Terry are members of the group Preserve Bent Mountain.

‘Legislators have an obligation to protect the public,” Bondurant told WDBJ7. “And in advancing MVP, they are failing to do that. In fact they are working against public safety.”

“And think about it,” Terry added, “if it were a good project, it wouldn’t have run into the trouble that it’s had.”

This week, more than 40 environmental and advocacy groups called for a “fair and open” review of the pipeline’s plan to cross the Jefferson National Forest.

They said the process should include public comment before the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management issue a draft report.

David Sligh is the Conservation Director of the group Wild Virginia.

“As citizens, members of the public have the right to have a say, to have a fair say, in how their public resources are going to be managed,” Sligh said Friday afternoon. “And so it’s a practical thing to get the best information, and it’s a fairness thing to make sure that folks who are going to be most affected have the best chance to weigh in.”

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline provided the following responses.

On the Toomey legislation:

“Permitting-related challenges are hindering America’s energy progress and diminishing our ability to execute a timely transition to clean energy. The need for comprehensive permitting reform is just as important for the continued development of renewables as it is for the ongoing development of fossil fuels and related infrastructure projects. Mountain Valley supports efforts to identify legislative solutions that can address this important issue and ensure America’s energy security.”

On the letter to federal agencies from the 40 groups:

“Since the project’s inception, groups opposing energy infrastructure development have challenged MVP’s permits at every turn, filing dozens of petitions contesting MVP’s previously issued state and federal authorizations. That said, it is no surprise that this request is originating from well-known opponents, many of whom the project team has, in good faith, repeatedly attempted to work with to address their concerns. Nevertheless, we recognize some groups that oppose fossil fuel infrastructure will never support the MVP. We remain committed to safely and responsibly completing construction of this critical energy infrastructure project and bringing it into service to meet domestic residential and business demands for cleaner, affordable natural gas in the second half of 2023.”