Regulators Decline Reconsidering MVP and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Water Permits

A regulatory panel declined a request to consider re-evaluating or revoking water-quality permits for two natural gas pipelines after environmental groups, landowners, and other critics argued the Corps’ review process being overly broad.

The Department of Environmental Quality defended the process, and both pipeline companies say the review has been rigorous.

Initially, the board weighted a motion to consider revoking the permits but voted it down.

The State Water Control Board met Tuesday in Richmond to consider the comments it solicited earlier this year regarding the permits granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.

Staff from the DEQ gave an overview of the thousands of comments received in addition to having the board hear from attendees of the hearing which was raucous and contentious at times.

The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines have gathered many opponents because of their routes and have battled setbacks involving permits.

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Mountain Valley Pipeline Forced to Release 50 Percent of Workforce

The owners of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been forced to release 50 percent of the project's workforce as the temporary stop-work order pushes back the expected completion date to late next year.

The company said in a statement posted to their website that the actions taken were “to address an idled workforce and protect the integrity of the project."

Around 2,100 workers were in charge of an approximately 100-mile stretch of the natural gas pipeline in Southwest Virginia earlier this summer. It is unclear how many workers have remained.

“Each of our three primary contractors are making individual decisions on how best to reallocate work or temporarily suspend work for their crews,” a Mountain Valley spokeswoman said in an email.

The $3.7 billion project was on track prior to running into problems with environmental regulators resulting in even more problems in courts.

The project was put on notice six times since April as muddy water flowed from work zones into nearby streams and measures to control erosion and sediment were failing.

Despite the stop work order, FERC is allowing construction to continue on about 70 miles of the pipeline in West Virginia as part of stabilization plan. Additional limited work was permitted in Virginia.

Mountain Valley said it was working with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to restore the permits and resume construction as quickly as possible.

“MVP remains committed to the earliest possible in-service date; however, under current circumstances a full in-service is now expected during the fourth quarter 2019,” the company statement read.

There are no updates on the project’s budget according to the spokeswoman’s email on Friday.

Richmond Times-Dispatch