ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has authorized the Mountain Valley Pipeline to resume construction on most of the 303-mile right-of-way.
The Director of the Office of Energy Projects issued the letter Wednesday afternoon, writing that "construction will best mitigate further environmental impacts."
"I have determined the protection of the environment along the Project's right-of-way across non-federal land is best served by completing construction and restoration activities as quickly as possible," Terry Turpin wrote.
The order includes two exceptions: the crossing of the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike on lands owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Braxton County, West Virginia, and 3.5 miles of pipeline route across the Jefferson National Forest in Monroe County, West Virginia and Giles County, Virginia.
FERC issued a stop work order in early August, after a federal appeals court invalidated permits for the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest.
Pipeline opponents in western Virginia say they are now urging the State Water Control Board to exercise its authority to stop work until questions about groundwater contamination can be considered and addressed by health officials.
A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"We appreciate the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) prompt review and additional, in-depth analysis of MVP alternatives with respect to federal lands and agree with their conclusion regarding the practicality of the project's currently permitted route.
This conclusion resolves the basis of the Stop Work Order issued on August 3, 2018, and also confirms that MVP's existing route minimizes impacts to sensitive species and environmental, cultural, and historic resources in the Forest.
With the FERC granting approval for MVP to recommence its construction activities, with exception of areas in proximity to the Weston Gauley Bridge Turnpike Trail and Jefferson National Forest, we are pleased that we will soon be able to bring back a significant amount of workers who were temporarily suspended from their duties on the project.
Moving forward, we will continue to coordinate with the agencies to address the Court's remaining issues and look forward to continuing with the safe, responsible construction of the pipeline along the full 303-mile route."