Mountain Valley Pipeline
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a joint venture project of Mariposa Energy LLC of San Antonio TX, and Equitrans LP. Their plan is to construct a pipeline that will transport natural gas. In total the project will consist of 304 miles of pipelines with an additional 8 miles as part of the Equitrans Expansion Project, which will help to connect new and existing pipelines throughout the region.
The evidence of a market demand and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Certificate policy requires at least 25 percent of the Mountain Valley Pipeline's capacity to deliver natural gas, be met by service contract agreements in order to justify the need for the project. Mountain Valley was able to secure these service contracts allowing them to proceed with the proposed project. When the pipeline is completed it will have the ability to ship 2 million dekatherms (Dts) of natural gas per day for distribution, with a large quantity of that gas being produced from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.
Opposition was met during the initial request to obtain a certificate of convenience and necessity from the FERC. Some of the issues raised by citizen groups include the right of eminent domain and the potential for negative impacts to the forests, waterways, and protected wildlife during construction. A ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon on January 31, 2018 granted the right of eminent domain to Mountain Valley in a disputed area but required current appraisals and bonds be set forth to compensate for any losses incurred by the land owners. Currently the Mountain Valley Pipeline is in the preliminary phases of construction.
Local summaries from the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project website suggest it has the potential to bring in state and local tax revenue along with jobs and economic growth to Virginia and West Virginia, a region where the impacts from a decline in the coal industry has caused a ripple effect that spans across the entire coal industry ecosystem. The American Petroleum Institute claims that benefits from the pipeline could increased natural gas availability while providing a cleaner and cheaper alternative fuel source for American consumers. There are concerns however from communities that will be impacted by the pipeline's construction and interest groups who want to preserve historical landmarks, forests, wildlife, waterways, and parks. Specific questions were raised regarding the need for the project and its purpose. Additional inquiries called in to question whether there were alternatives to avoid impacts to the forest among other things which were detailed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, along with recommendations by the FERC to minimize the impacts on the environment.
The MVP project is a natural gas pipeline from southern Virginia to northwestern West Virginia retrieving its supply from the Marcellus and Utica shale sites to expectedly provide two billion cubic feet of firm capacity per day that can be used in commercial buildings in the Mid to the South Atlantic areas of the United States. The pipeline is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because it is an interstate obligation, and therefore must be overseen by the government, in accordance to the United States Natural Gas Act.
The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas pipeline will be owned and operated by Mountain Valley LLC, which is a joint venture between the energy provider Consolidated Edison, and various midstream partners, with EQT Midstream holding the most substantial stake. This pipeline, as with all others, will be regulated by the United States Federal Energy Regulation Commission. The Natural Gas Act is the main piece of legislation that the FERC uses to govern natural gas pipelines. This act states that the FERC has the authority to regulate the transmission and sale of natural gas, approve or deny the construction or abandonment of natural gas facilities, and impose civil penalties if any of its specific provisions are not met.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reviews applications for newly proposed interstate natural gas projects and regulates the energy markets of the nation. In October 2015, Mountain Valley filed for a formal FERC approval application for construction on the pipeline. In June, 2017 the Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by FERC. After the pipeline is built, the authority of the pipeline gets turned over to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) where records of incidences are also kept.
The MVP is overseen by the EQT Corporation, a utility company and drilling firm based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. EQT transports petroleum and natural gas and is one of the largest producers in the Appalachian Basin.
Opposition to the project
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is the principal force opposing this pipeline. This organization has worked with Mountain Valley Pipeline officials in an effort to minimize mainly the environmental impacts along the Appalachian Trail, which is a major recreational area in not only Virginia and West Virginia, but many other Appalachian states as well. Though they have cooperated with the MVP officials, they have deemed many of the environmental effects unavoidable and extremely detrimental to the scenic beauty of the Appalachian Trail, and ultimately remain staunchly opposed to this pipeline.
Additionally, many citizens of Virginia and West Virginia oppose this proposed pipeline. A handful of concerned individuals have taken it upon themselves to "tree-sit"  in efforts to prevent logging crews from being able to effectively clear space for the construction of the pipeline, while many others have voiced their opposition to this pipeline via news interviews and grassroots movements.
Mountain Valley Pipeline officials have repeatedly emphasized their dedication to the safe construction and operation of the pipeline. According to the United States Department of Transportation, transport of natural gas through a pipeline is the safest delivery system for any form of energy. The pipeline has determined to be providing 2 Bcf of natural gas daily to provide many markets and commercial building across the mid to south Atlantic areas. Additionally, the pipeline would be regulated by the United States Natural Gas Act, federal and state level ordinances will dictate the construction and operation of the pipeline.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline has already been cited by government agencies for violations of Virginia's Stormwater Management Act, over problems with runoff from land clearance while installing the pipeline "Virginia DEQ issues violation for Mountain Valley Pipeline". whsv.com. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
Controversies and impact
Landowners located along the pipeline project see the privately owned pipeline as a ‘government sanctioned land grab’, impacting not only the environment, but also the local economies of surrounding towns. Recently, a Federal court put a hold on a required permit for construction of the pipeline in Monroe County, West Virginia.
The environmental concerns of the pipeline include threats to the streams, rivers, and drinking water along the route. This can include the forests, endangered species, fish nurseries, and the public lands that surround the pipeline. Water contamination has been one of the biggest concerns with the growth of this project, and there are concerns by some about the path of the pipeline, which cuts across sections of National Parks including the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia along with the Appalachian Trail.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has advocated against the creation of the pipeline, arguing points including :
- The permanent damage of the scenic landscape of the Appalachian trail
- Concerns for nearby towns due to the lands being picked for the building of the pipeline are most susceptible to soil erosion, landslides, and natural gas leaks
- In order to push for the building of the MVP, the Forest Service lowered their standard for water quality, visual impacts, and destruction of the forest within the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan. There is a concern that due to this change, there could be an increase in private companies taking advantage of National Parks or forests
Proposed economic impacts are both positive and negative, including:
- Private landowners near the pipeline will lose property to the pipeline company. If the landowners are able to keep their land, the property value will decrease due to the pipeline's presence. Due to the process of eminent domain, the ability for the government to attain private land and make it public land, landowners could have their land taken and given to pipeline companies.
- Consumers of the pipeline will have to pay additional taxes in their electrical bills to pay for the building of the Mountain Valley Pipeline
- Loss of ecosystem service value due to the destruction of the water purification and recreational benefits of the land
Note that the statements above are from Natural Resources Defense Council, an anti-pipeline advocacy organization.
Many economic gains have been argued by the Mountain Valley Pipeline project including:
- Increase in employment within the region, expected to gain 4,400 jobs within Virginia and 4,500 in West Virginia
- Increase in direct spending on the areas impacted: $407 million directly in Virginia and $811 million directly in West Virginia
- Potential of generating $35 million in tax revenues for the State of Virginia
- Positive tax revenues within Virginia, as the project has generate $35 million since 2015
- "Overview". mountainvalleypipeline.info. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- ""Final Environmental Impact Statement". FERC Staff Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Mountain Valley Project and Equitrans Expansion Project (CP16-10-000 and CP16-13-000)". ferc.gov. June 23, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- "Order Issuing Certificates and Granting Abandonment Authority" (PDF). ferc.gov. October 13, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Schmalz, Arthur E. (February 6, 2018). "Virginia District Court Requires Pipeline Company to Obtain Appraisals Before Granting Preliminary Injunctions For Prejudgment Possession of Land". lexology.com. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Mall, Amy (February 26, 2018). "Northam Must Act to Protect Clean Water from Pipelines". nrdc.org. National Resource Defense Council.
- Hammack, Laurence (March 14, 2018). "Judge allows Mountain Valley Pipeline work to proceed on private property". roanoke.com. The Roanoke Times. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- "Local Summaries". mountainvalleypipeline.info. Mountain Valley Pipeline.
- "An Economic Analysis of the Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystem" (PDF). arc.gov. Appalachian Regional Commission. January 2018.
- Tadeo, Michael (December 22, 2016). "VIRGINIA'S CONSUMERS AND ECONOMY WILL BENEFIT FROM THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE". api.org. American Petroleum Institute.
- "Mountain Valley Pipeline Project". mountainvalleypipeline.info. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
- "FERC Strategic Plan" (PDF).
- "Overview - Mountain Valley Pipeline Project". www.mountainvalleypipeline.info. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
- Feridun, Karen (May 30, 2017). "What FERC Is And Why It Matters". Huffington Post.
- Waples, David A. (April 24, 2012). "The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia: A History from the First Discovery to the Tapping of the Marcellus Shale, 2d ed". McFarland.
- "Appalachian Trail Conservancy - About Mountain Valley Pipeline". appalachiantrail.org. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Sturgeon, Jeff. "Mountain Valley Pipeline protesters continue tree-top vigil in W.Va". Roanoke Times. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- Schneider, Gregory S. (2018-05-05). "Women sitting in trees to protest pipeline come down after judge threatens fines". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
- "Safety - Mountain Valley Pipeline Project". mountainvalleypipeline.info. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- "Overview - Mountain Valley Pipeline Project". mountainvalleypipeline.info. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
- Adams, Duncan (July 27, 2017). "Landowners along pipeline route sue FERC and Mountain Valley Pipeline". The Roanoke Times.
- Mishkin, Kate (June 21, 2018). "Federal court puts Mountain Valley Pipeline water crossing permit on hold". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
- "10 Reasons to Stop Mtn. Valley & Atlantic Coast Pipelines". NRDC. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Adams, Duncan (May 18, 2016). "Study backed by Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents suggests negative economic impacts for region". The Roanoke Times.
- "Economic Benefits - Mountain Valley Pipeline Project". mountainvalleypipeline.info. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "New Study Projects Major Economic Benefits from Mountain Valley Pipeline for Southwest and Southside Virginia | EQT Media HQ". media.eqt.com. Retrieved March 15, 2018.