Fed­eral re­views de­lay pipe­line yet again

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - REMEMBERIN­G - BY LAU­RENCE HAMMACK The Roanoke Times

ROANOKE — A win­ter hia­tus in con­struc­tion of the Moun­tain Val­ley Pipe­line will last well into the spring.

The lat­est de­lay came last week, with word that two fed­eral agen­cies will take an­other month to re­view one of sev­eral ap­provals — set aside by le­gal chal­lenges from en­vi­ron­men­tal groups — that must be re­stored be­fore work can ramp up on the highly dis­puted nat­u­ral gas pipe­line.

Thurs­day had been the dead­line for the Fed­eral En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice to fin­ish their re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the project’s im­pact on en­dan­gered or threat­ened species of fish and bats.

But in a let­ter Wed­nes­day to FERC, the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice said the agen­cies and Moun­tain Val­ley had agreed to take an­other 32 days, push­ing the com­ple­tion date to April 27.

It was the third such de­lay since De­cem­ber, when the re­view was orig­i­nally set to be com­pleted.

De­spite the slow process with that and two other sets of sus­pended per­mits, the joint ven­ture of five en­ergy com­pa­nies says it still plans to fin­ish the 303-mile pipe­line by the end of this year.

“Moun­tain Val­ley will con­tinue to work dili­gently to ob­tain all nec­es­sary per­mits to com­plete con­struc­tion of this vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture,” com­pany at­tor­ney Matthew Eg­gerd­ing wrote in a let­ter to FERC.

Since work be­gan two years ago on the $5.5 bil­lion project, reg­u­la­tory agen­cies in Vir­ginia and West Vir­ginia have cited Moun­tain Val­ley for re­peat­edly vi­o­lat­ing ero­sion and sed­i­ment con­trol reg­u­la­tions along the pipe­line’s path.

Other en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems, raised in le­gal chal­lenges by the Sierra Club and other groups, have led to the sus­pen­sion of three sets of per­mits: for the buried pipe to pass through the Jef­fer­son Na­tional For­est, un­der more than 1,000 streams and wet­lands in the two Vir­ginias, and into the habi­tat of en­dan­gered species with­out caus­ing them un­due harm.

Last Oc­to­ber, FERC or­dered that all ac­tive con­struc­tion be halted pend­ing a re­view of a bi­o­log­i­cal opin­ion, is­sued by the

Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice in 2017, that found the pipe­line would not sig­nif­i­cantly jeop­ar­dize pro­tected fish and bats.

When con­struc­tion was halted last year, Moun­tain Val­ley was al­lowed to sta­bi­lize some work sites and main­tain ero­sion con­trol over the pipe­line’s en­tire length from north­ern West Vir­ginia to Chatham, near the North Carolina line.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.