Supreme Court Allows Work to Continue on Mountain Valley Pipeline

July 27, 2023

The Supreme Court Thursday allowed work to continue on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas conduit crossing federal land in Virginia, despite challenges from environmental groups. 

The Justices granted an emergency request to finish the final elements on the 303.5-miile pipeline, which runs from West Virginia to parts of southern Virginia. 

The Supreme Court’s decision blocks decision by the Richmond, Virginia-base 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had prevented the pipeline’s continued construction.

That lower court ruling came despite a stipulation backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in the Fiscal Responsibility Act that stripped courts of authority to approve—or disapprove—pipeline construction. 

Lawyers for the pipeline, a joint venture involving several companies, asserted in court filings that the 4th Circuit had “no authority” to block the project due to the legislation. 

The pipeline received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June to restart construction, and the Biden Administration had urged the Supreme Court to allow the work to continue.

That’s despite environmental groups such as the Wilderness Society arguing before the 4th Circuit that Congress had exceeded its authority in passing the stipulation in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Construction on the pipeline is nearly complete. The challenge before the Supreme Court targeted a 3.5-mile stretch in Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest as well as several stream crossings near the forest. The environmental groups have contended that the project will harm soil and water quality in that area. 

PHOTO Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

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