The following “Stop Work Order,” which came out last night from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline, is temporary (“There is no reason to believe that the Forest Service or the Army Corps of Engineers, as the land managing agencies, or the BLM, as the federal rights-of-way grantor, will not be able to comply with the Court’s instructions and to ultimately issue new right-of-way grants that satisfy the Court’s requirements.”) but still a pleasant surprise. Here’s the operative line, in bold.
MVP is hereby notified that construction activity along all portions of the Project and in all work areas must cease immediately, with the exception of any measures deemed necessary by those land managing agencies or FERC staff to ensure the stabilization of the right of way and work areas.
Of course, the question as always isn’t just about federal authorities, but about authorities – first and foremost Gov. Ralph Northam – right here in Virginia, who have always had a great deal of power under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to, at the minimum, require much more stringent environmental conditions on both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The fact that they haven’t done so remains deeply disappointing, to put it mildly, but perhaps this FERC order will give them a hint as to the types of actions they SHOULD be taking?