A 300-mile-long fracking pipeline project slated to cross numerous streams and rivers in West Virginia and Virginia got a major boost over the weekend when President Joe Biden signed the debt-ceiling bill.
Peter Anderson, Virginia policy director for the group Appalachian Voices, said one more Clean Water Act permit is needed for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to complete construction. Lawmakers slipped permission for it into the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.
“Congress would be directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to go ahead and issue authorization for Mountain Valley Pipeline on the Clean Water Act, within 21 days of the bill’s passage,” Anderson pointed out.
The pipeline is expected to cost around $6 billion. One study by the advocacy group Oil Change International found the pipeline would spew more than 89 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, akin to adding 26 new coal-fired power plants. Supporters, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., argued the project will keep energy costs lower for consumers.
Cindy Rank, chair of the Extractive Industries Committee for the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, added the bill goes further, and attempts to remove litigation as an option for groups and citizens who oppose the project.
“It sets a terrible precedent for just about any other, especially major projects that may be coming down the line,” Rank contended. “None of them are easy. All of them have problems. And problems have to be dealt with legally.”
Anderson added the pipeline’s construction could increase natural-disaster risks for neighboring communities.
“Almost three quarters of the proposed path involves building on slopes that are either considered moderately susceptible or highly susceptible to landslides presents a real public safety issue,” Anderson outlined.
He noted the pipeline has already been cited by regulators in multiple states for more than 500 instances of water quality and other environmental violations related to sediment runoff.