The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a 303-mile (488 km) natural gas pipeline under construction through West Virginia and Virginia in the United States . There is also a proposed 75 mile extension of the pipeline from Virginia into North Carolina called MVP Southgate. Construction on the pipeline began in 2018. The pipeline is owned by NextEra Energy, EQM Midstream, CON Edison Transmission, WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream . EQM Midstream is the majority owner and pipeline operator.
Citizen groups and environmental organizations have opposed the pipeline for various reasons including damage to the environment during construction; pollution and noise from compressor stations that pressurize gas in the pipeline; the threat of leaks or explosions during pipeline operation; appropriation of private land along the pipeline route through eminent domain; objections to fracking for natural gas in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations where the gas originates; and the project’s contribution to climate change. In 2020, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was cancelled due to lawsuits and opposition from some environmental justice organizations that now oppose the MVP.
Two compressor stations under construction for the Southgate extension are opposed by communities and environmental groups in North Carolina . There have been several explosions at natural gas compressor stations in the United States, and the MVP would operate at the extremely high pressure of 1,480 PSI . Construction delays have resulted in pipe sections becoming corroded by weather, increasing safety concerns . Several environmental justice concerns were raised in communities that would be exposed to air pollution from the compressor station, and in December 2021, Virginia state regulators denied a permit for one of the stations citing the state’s Environmental Justice Act . In October 2022, construction delays on the main line of the MVP caused developers to temporarily drop legal proceedings that were part of their attempt to seize private land for the Southgate Extension through eminent domain .
The pipeline has also been opposed through direct action. Appalachians Against Pipelines (AAP) coordinated dozens of actions where people chained themselves to construction equipment, blocked access to construction sites, and occupied tree-sits to prevent construction. In one notable example, forest defenders occupied trees for 932 days from late 2018 to early 2021 . In 2021, MVP subpoenaed FaceBook in an attempt to identify the administrators of an account belonging to AAP which had 19,000 followers at the time .
Sixty-seven percent of the pipeline route is built on steep terrain that is susceptible to landslides , posing threats to the environment during construction and presenting risks of leaks and explosions during operation . The pipeline also crosses 1,108 bodies of water. Developers have been cited and fined for water quality violations several times in both Virginia and West Virginia during construction in 2018 . The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals halted construction in 2018 for failure to complete water crossings in compliance with federal permits .
In 2022, pipeline developers were targeting mid-2023 for project completion. Lawsuits, direct action, and regulatory issues have added years to the project and doubled the estimated costs. Cost projections in 2022 amounted to $6.6 billion . Developers say that the pipeline is about 90% complete.
In September 2022, W. VA Senator Joe Manchin made a deal with the Biden administration and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in which he agreed to support the $739 billion Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for federal permitting reform that would streamline large energy infrastructure projects and “require the relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline” . Manchin’s proposed legislation (The Energy Independence and Security Act) was withdrawn later in 2022, as it seemed unlikely to pass at that time . Manchin received $338,000 in campaign donations from oil and gas companies during the 2021-2022 election season. Schumer received $283,000 from MVP investor NextEra . Environmental justice organizations protested the side deal in DC on September 8, 2022 . Members of tribes including the Monacan, Cheyenne River Sioux, Occaneechi-Saponi and Rosebud Sioux have opposed the pipeline . The project's implications for federal law have also drawn participation from individuals belonging to other Indigenous nations who have concerns that Manchin's legislation would weaken laws that they have used to protect their lands .
In November 2022, RGC Midstream and NextEra Energy took $15 million and $800 million impairment charges respectively on their investments in the pipeline. The MVP joint venture took $583 million in impairments. A statement from NextEra said the pipeline would not likely be completed .