Pipeline opponents challenge pipeline permit in federal appeals court

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WASHINGTON, DC (WDBJ7) Ever since plans for the Mountain Valley Pipeline first began to gather steam, opponents have been questioning the federal approval process.

And now more than a dozen environmental groups are hoping a three-judge panel in Washington will agree.

Appalachian Voices, the Sierra Club and other groups are challenging the key Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit that authorized construction to begin.

The groups say FERC came up short on a number of fronts, including failure to establish public need for the project, improper use of eminent domain and inadequate analysis of the impact on the environment and historic resources.

But in a brief filed before today's hearing, attorneys representing FERC said the agency fulfilled all of its statutory responsibilities., saying "the commission was justified in concluding after balancing pipeline benefits and impacts, that the project advances the public interest."

Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline released the following statement:

"The FERC has a long-standing, robust process for the review of U.S. infrastructure projects. As related to the MVP project, we believe the FERC process was comprehensive, thoughtful, and rigorous. After more than three years of review, the FERC process culminated in a determination that this pipeline is needed to serve public demand for affordable, reliable and clean-burning natural gas."

The three-judge panel listened to the arguments and quizzed the lawyers Monday morning, but a ruling could be months away.