Home Energy and Environment FERC Approves Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Request for an Expedited Renewal Process. Let’s...

FERC Approves Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Request for an Expedited Renewal Process. Let’s Encourage FERC to Deny It!

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by Freeda Cathcart

URGENT take action immediately!!!

  • Please sign this petition tinyurl.com/DenyMVPrequest to encourage FERC to deny Mountain Valley Pipeline’s request for an extension. Deadline is midnight on July 13. 
  • After signing the petition then use the easy next step to send our U.S. Senators an email to demand that FERC denies MVP’s request for an expedited renewal for their FERC certificate and extends the public comment period. Want to do more then call their DC office: Sen. Kaine 202-224-4024 or Sen. Warner 202-224-2023.
  • Then use the easy social media links after sending our Senators an email to encourage others to join you!

<The notice from FERC’s Secretary Bose was stunning when it granted Mountain Valley Pipeline’s request for an expedited renewal of their FERC certificate for four years, with only a 15 day comment period from the public. FERC’s notice was issued before the July 4th holiday weekend, with only a 15-day public comment period. Even more astounding was FERC’s acceptance of MVP’s assertion that their project was 94% complete, when independent analysis of MVP’s compliance reports indicate that the project is barely over 50% complete, while missing key permits that have been vacated by the courts multiple times.

Proceeding with an expedited renewal appears to be incongruent with FERC’s mission: “Economically Efficient, Safe, Reliable, and Secure Energy for Consumers. Assist consumers in obtaining economically efficient, safe, reliable, and secure energy services at a reasonable cost through appropriate regulatory and market means, and collaborative efforts.”

FERC’s Notice is also not consistent with FERC’s Strategic Plan. FERC’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 lists Goal 3 as “Achieve organizational excellence by…executing responsive and transparent processes, as well as proactive engagement and education, to strengthen public trust.” Objective 3.2 states strong commitments to work with affected communities and landowners directly impacted by Commission proceedings as well as the FERC Office of Public Participation (OPP). Objective 3.3’s purpose reads: “To demonstrate FERC’s commitment to integrity, fairness, and ethics as public servants and in the exercise of its regulatory authority.” Extending the comment period for this proceeding to allow for adequate public education and participation would be a way to build increased public trust and public engagement with FERC proceedings.

It’s confounding that FERC’s announcement to expedite MVP’s renewal would be made after the 5th Circuit Court still hasn’t issued their ruling on the Sierra Club’s challenge to the first renewal.

From my filing submitted to FERC on March 15, 2022:

“An article in June of 2020, had Diana Charletta, president and chief operating officer, EQM Midstream Partners, LP, operator of MVP stating “we have completed 92% of total project work.” Then the article had the following details: “MVP’s current construction statistics: the three compressor stations are 100% complete; the three original certificated interconnects are 100% complete and a fourth has been approved for construction in 2020; approximately 80% of the pipeline work is complete, which includes 264 miles of pipe welded and in-place; and approximately 50% of the right-of-way has been fully restored.” 

The math doesn’t make sense. MVP worked most of 2021 with good weather on the project yet according to their own reports they only succeeded in 2% of completed forward motion. Scientists and engineers have warned that the most challenging parts of MVP’s project haven’t been constructed yet. Then there have been reports filed on the FERC docket showing the deterioration of the supports for the welded pipes, slippage and erosion and sediment control problems. Then there’s the analysis by independent organizations that the project is barely half completed based on MVP’s compliance reports filed on the FERC docket.

It’s a tragedy that MVP’s partners haven’t been responsible to their shareholders by canceling this ever increasingly expensive boondoggle. Shareholders are concerned that their investments will be adversely affected by stranded assets like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. While it’s the SEC’s responsibility to oversee corporate investment, it’s FERC’s responsibility to provide regulatory oversight to projects that FERC has issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity.“

Even more outrageous is that FERC’s staff would grant MVP’s request for an expedited certificate renewal process instead of bringing the matter before the FERC commissioners to decide whether or not to grant the request. This past April 7, 2022 the Sierra Club’s case against FERC’s first renewal of their certificate issued in 2020 for two years was heard by the 5th Circuit Court. The case starts at 1:16;39 in this Youtube recording and the judges skewer FERC’s lawyers at 1:40:00 for FERC’s lack of response to requests for FERC to issue a stop work order after MVP previously lost their permits and on FERC’s lack of response to reports of sedimentation entering streams from the MVP project. The 5th Circuit Court has yet to render their decision on the Sierra Club vs FERC case.

There is new environmental evidence and economic developments that the public needs to have time to submit to FERC for the commissioners to consider before issuing a decision on MVP’s request to renew their certificate for four years. Here’s a link to a presentation with videos and GPS date and time stamped photographs substantiating the scientists and engineers warnings that MVP erosion and sediment controls would fail. These failures happened after normal amounts of rain, between a half to an inch of rain, not the force majora’s that MVP blames on their failures. The evidence also documents Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality’s failure to protect our water and endangered species from harm.

Recent economic developments demonstrate the lack of economic necessity for the MVP as capitalism rejects the cost and liability of depending on methane for energy because of it being a potent accelerant of extreme weather due to climate change. This is evidenced by recent shareholder votes and actions by the SEC: 

The fossil fuel industry is trying to use Russia’s war with Ukraine and European sanctions against Russia’s fossil fuels as an excuse to expand fossil fuel infrastructure in the U.S. like the Mountain Valley Pipeline. However, the U.N. Secretary Guterres argues that “building more infrastructure for fossil fuels is ‘delusional.'” 

From BBC news article Climate change: New fossil fuel funding is ‘delusional’ says UN chief:

He re-iterated his previous call for a rapid phase out of coal and a dramatic increase in spending on renewables like wind and solar. Had we invested massively in renewable energy in the past, we would not be so dramatically at the mercy of the instability of fossil fuel markets. The dramatic falls seen in the price of renewables over the past decade contrasted strongly with the rising costs of oil and gas, he added.”

It should be up to the FERC to address MVP’s request for an expedited certificate and not a staff decision. There are serious discrepancies between MVP’s claim the project is nearly 94% percent complete and other independent organization’s analysis based on MVP’s compliance reports submitted to FERC claim the project is barely over half complete. It’s unacceptable to announce an expedited process right before the July 4th holiday weekend and to set an unreasonable deadline of July 14 for intervenors and the public to file their objections.

The public has many reasons for not trusting FERC is willing or able to implement their strategic plan when they have fecklessly granted a request for an expedited process for the MVP renewal certificate when the project is lacking necessary permits and is awaiting the 5th circuit court decision on whether or not FERC should have issued MVP’s certificate renewal. FERC could correct this by significantly extending the comment period at least until after the 5th Circuit Court issues their decision on whether or not FERC should have issued MVP’s first renewal certificate.

Please take immediate action that was listed at the beginning of this article and encourage others to join you. We must quickly respond to this recent threat to our environment and economy.

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