FERC has issued an environmental assessment (EA) for the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), signing off on the project’s plans to use a different water crossing method at some locations along its route.

MVP filed in February to amend its certificate approval as part of a broader plan to work around a prolonged legal process on its stayed Nationwide Permit 12

MVP has proposed using trenchless methods to cross 136 streams and 47 wetlands that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission originally authorized as open-cut crossings. 

FERC said in a favorable EA released Friday that the new technique would not have a significant impact on the human environment as long as MVP adheres to its application and follows the Commission’s recommended mitigation measures. While the project’s new plans are likely to increase construction emissions and noise, the EA concluded that the impacts would be short-term and insignificant.

The Commission also determined that the trenchless crossing method would have less of an impact on wetlands and waterbodies than the open-cut technique. Public comments on the EA must be received by Sept. 13. 

MVP also submitted an application to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as part of its change of plans. Water quality certifications are also pending in both Virginia and West Virginia. The USACE directed the states in June to complete their water quality reviews by the end of the year.

Sponsor Equitrans Midstream Corp. said in May that the project’s in-service date would again slip to 2022 pending further regulatory approvals. The 303-mile, 2 Bcf/d MVP would move more Appalachian natural gas to the Southeast. 

“As a natural gas transmission line, a swift conclusion to MVP’s construction and start of operation is important for landowners and communities along the route and is vital in our nation’s transition to a lower-carbon economy, ensuring continued and reliable public access to affordable energy,” MVP spokesperson Natalie Cox said Friday.