FERC has granted the heavily scrutinized Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) another four years to finish construction and enter service, a move that could augur well for the embattled natural gas project’s political and regulatory future.
In an order filed Tuesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave MVP until Oct. 13, 2026, to complete what has proven to be a drawn-out construction process for the 300-mile, 2 million Dth/d Appalachia-to-Southeast natural gas conduit. After an earlier two-year extension issued in 2020, MVP had previously had until October to place the pipeline into service.
The commissioners, led by Democratic Chairman Richard Glick, ultimately rejected assertions from project opponents that the agency should revisit its environmental review of the pipeline. MVP received a certificate order from FERC in 2017.
“There has been no showing that the environmental effects of the project have changed materially since the Commission authorized the project,” FERC wrote.
The order stated, however, that “the environment is subject to change, and that the validity of our conclusions and environmental conditions cannot be sustained indefinitely.”
Commissioner James Danly of the Republican minority took issue with that language in particular, writing in a separate concurring opinion that such a statement “reinforces the Commission’s misguided view…that it may revisit determinations made in final, unappealable certificate orders.”
FERC should take a “narrow” approach to considering requests for an extension of time and not overstep its legal authority, Danly argued.
The latest FERC action follows the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, made possible after a compromise was reached with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a supporter of MVP, which runs through part of his state.
Management for MVP sponsor Equitrans Midstream Corp. recently pointed to the legislation as a positive for the project’s ambitions of reaching the finish line.
Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC in a recent note to clients alluded to Glick’s renomination process as another factor that could influence MVP’s regulatory future.
With Manchin chairing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the ClearView analysts said they “did not expect” a confirmation hearing to be scheduled “prior to (constructive) action on the MVP certificate extension. Chairman Manchin is a vocal advocate for the project and has been actively pushing the White House and federal agencies beyond FERC to facilitate its completion by expeditiously addressing outstanding permits.
“With this approval in hand, the path would appear clear for that nomination process to move forward.”
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