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FERC “greenlights Mountain Valley [Pipeline]’s request to resume construction in a 17-mile stretch of a large ‘exclusion zone'”

Trump appointees use "upside-down logic" to "rubber stamp" an environmentally destructive project; lone Democrat forcefully dissents


See below for the latest news, courtesy of Sarah Vogelsong of the Virginia Mercury, regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline fracked-gas monstrosity, this time with the Trump-appointee-controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) doing everything it can to, well, “FERC over” the environment and Virginians in general. Disgusting. Also, see below for a relevant comment by Del. Chris Hurst (“jfc, did MVP write this for FERC???”), and for highlights from the blistering – and 100% accurate! – dissent by Commissioner Richard Glick, as well as a statement from Wild Virginia.

FERC Commissioner Rich Glick:

  • “Today’s order grants Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (MVP) authorization to resume construction activities in the 25-mile exclusion zone bordering the Jefferson National Forest.  That is a serious mistake.  Since the Commission authorized the MVP Pipeline Project (Project), the federal courts have repeatedly invalidated the various federal permits that MVP requires to complete its route.  As a result, MVP is still missing necessary permits, including authorization to cross the Jefferson National Forest.  Given the MVP permits’ checkered litigation record, we should not authorize MVP to commence piece-meal construction, including construction affecting a national forest, before it has all the permits needed to complete the Project along its current route”
  • “As an initial matter, I believe that allowing MVP to recommence construction without all necessary permits violates Environmental Condition 9 of its certificate.
  • “The Commission’s failure to take Environmental Condition 9 seriously, and its contention that the condition is relevant only when a pipeline first commences construction, makes the condition look like an excuse for justifying the Commission’s practice of granting conditional certificates and not a serious attempt to protect the environment or the public interest. It is that kind of hand-waving analysis that has earned the Commission a reputation for ‘rubber stamping’ interstate natural gas pipelines.”
  • Allowing MVP to recommence construction now is also bad policy. The 25-mile exclusion zone abutting the Jefferson National Forest is designed to protect the critical resource that is the national forest, particularly wetlands within the forest, and we should not be undermining those protections before BLM and the Forest Service decide whether to reissue MVP’s authorization to cross the forest lands, along with whatever new protections it may require.  In any event, as I have previously explained, allowing MVP to take actions that may harm the Jefferson National Forest or affect the pending route approvals puts the cart before the horse in a way that is inconsistent with our responsibility to the public interest.  Particularly given the history of this proceeding, and the numerous defeats that MVP’s permits have suffered in court, the Commission should demand an affirmative reason to believe that the Project will go forward as planned, such as having all necessary permits, before authorizing additional construction.”
  • “In response, the Commission takes the bewildering position that because “the record gives . . . no reason to assume that there will be a change to the proposed route,” it will assume that the project will go ahead on the current route.[1] That type of perfunctory reasoning simply does not cut it.  It is the Commission’s job to protect the public interest throughout construction of a new pipeline and we are not taking that responsibility seriously if we brush aside concerns about the invalidated permits and treat the absence of conclusive evidence that the pipeline route will change as a basis to assume that a project will go forward as planned, even while key permits remain outstanding.  Once again, that approach is exactly what earns this Commission its unfortunate reputation as a rubber stamp.”

Wild Virginia’s statement:

FERC Arrogantly Aids MVP’s Destruction
David Sligh
Through today’s order allowing MVP to resume destruction on more areas near our National Forest, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has again thumbed its nose at the law and shown utter disregard for common sense and the public good. As MVP lawyers have stated, the company wants to dig and blast as much as possible before the courts have a chance to review agency actions and possibly stop them in their tracks – as the courts have done repeatedly in response to agency failures. FERC seems more than willing to help MVP in its attempt to make court actions moot.
FERC continues to assert that its own requirement, that permits from all agencies be in place before construction starts, has no application when the project loses those same permits. As Commissioner Glick states in his dissent to today’s Order, this is a nonsensical position and seems to show that FERC’s certificate conditions are just for show, not to actually protect people and our resources.
Also, the Commission uses upside-down logic to justify its reliance on decisions not yet made by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. FERC says it has “no reason to assume that there will be a change to the proposed route through the Jefferson National Forest” but what it is actually doing is presuming that these other agencies will approve MVP’s proposals – a presumption that neither FERC nor these other agencies can legally make. It makes a mockery of the decisional processes all agencies must follow. The level of arrogance the Commission majority has demonstrated today is breathtaking and shameful. 

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