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Federal Court Allows MVP Challenge to Advance

A federal court this week rejected FERC’s motion to suspend a petition for review of the certificate order authorizing the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and cleared the case brought by a coalition of environmental groups to move forward. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had filed a motion to postpone the challenge until it could decide on rehearing requests filed by the groups. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday denied the motion and ordered the Commission to file the certified index for the case, or administrative record, within 30 days. 

FERC approved MVP along with the similarly designed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) last October. A month later, dozens of environmental groups and individuals filed requests for rehearing of the project’s certificate. The Commission tolled the requests to give it more time to decide on granting a rehearing. The groups then filed a petition for review in the DC Circuit. 

The case is being brought by the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Wild Virginia and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. 

MVP is currently under construction, with a targeted in-service date of late this year. The 300-mile pipeline would move 2 Bcf/d from West Virginia to Virginia and connect with Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line to move Marcellus and Utica shale volumes to the Southeast. The project also recently launched an open seasonto extend the system into North Carolina. 

Echoing concerns that ACP serves essentially the same purpose as MVP, Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur in her dissent of the certificates authorizing the projects argued that the two pipelines should have been merged given their potential environmental impacts. 

The DC Circuit’s decision to allow the MVP challenge to move forward came on the same day as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated a key permit for ACP, potentially halting construction in certain areas indefinitely.  

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