Republicans Secure Massive Mountain Valley Gas Pipeline Approval In Debt Ceiling Deal

House Republicans and President Biden announced on Sunday, the highly-anticipated debt ceiling package. It includes a provision fast-tracking a massive 303-mile West Virginia-to-Virginia natural gas pipeline project for approval. The Mountain Valley Pipeline, included in the debt ceiling deal, is a 'significant victory,' top Republicans say.

The 94% complete, billion-dollar Mountain Valley Pipeline, an unexpected addition which was green lighted, has been mired in a lengthy permitting process for years. It was immediately cheered by West Virginia lawmakers who have long touted the project's expected economic benefits. The pipeline is projected to create 2,500 construction jobs, $40 million in new tax revenue for West Virginia, $10 million in new tax revenue for Virginia and up to $250 million in royalties for West Virginia landowners.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) W.Va., the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement-

"After working with Speaker McCarthy and reiterating what completing the Mountain Valley Pipeline would mean for American jobs and domestic energy production, I am thrilled it is included in the debt ceiling package that avoids default,"…adding…"Despite delay after delay, we continued to fight to get this critical natural gas pipeline up and running, and its inclusion in this deal is a significant victory for the future of West Virginia,"

- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) WV

The pipeline’s approval was ultimately earmarked in the debt ceiling deal, according to a spokesperson for Capito, after she personally engaged with McCarthy about its importance. The spokesperson added that the entire congressional delegation from West Virginia had pushed for its inclusion in the package.

Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) WV, also applauded House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, (R) CA., for ensuring the project was included in the deal. Manchin's attempts last year to fast-track the pipeline in a budget package in September and a defense spending package in December both failed to garner needed support.

Manchin said Sunday-

"Last summer, I introduced legislation to complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline,". "I am pleased Speaker McCarthy and his leadership team see the tremendous value in completing the MVP to increase domestic energy production and drive down costs across America and especially in West Virginia."…adding  "I am proud to have fought for this critical project and to have secured the bipartisan support necessary to get it across the finish line."

-Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) WV

The pipeline is projected to transport, overall, approximately 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from West Virginia to consumers in the Mid-and South Atlantic states. The deal comes less than a week after both the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service provided the Mountain Valley Pipeline's developer with key authorizations to proceed with construction, through a three-mile stretch of the Jefferson National Forest along the West Virginia-Virginia border.

Both agencies had said, however, that the pipeline construction in the forest area wasn't allowed to take place until all outstanding permits were awarded. Officially, the project has yet to receive required authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Reportedly, a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is currently being challenged in court. Environmental groups have vowed to continue further litigation over the project.

Rep. Carol Miller, (R) W.Va., said

"Since coming to Congress, I've worked tirelessly alongside my West Virginia colleagues to complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline,"… "Finally, Republicans and Democrats are coming together to finish the Mountain Valley Pipeline which will create more jobs, lower energy costs, and protect our environment. This bill is a bipartisan win for every American."

Rep. Carol Miller, (R) WV

Likely to face resistance from Democrats and environmental groups, who have opposed the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the budget deal, which now must be passed in the House and Senate to avoid a U.S. default, will face certain challenges. Apparently, climate advocates have been protesting the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for years.

On Sunday, Biden said that neither side got everything they wanted from the deal and that was the –

"responsibility of governing."…"The agreement also represents a compromise, which means no one got everything they want," the president explained. "And the - this is a deal that’s good news for, I believe you’ll see, for the American people."

-President Joe Biden

That there has been any deal at all reached is amazing. Whether you appreciate Kevin McCarthy’s style of leadership, one has to be impressed by his tenacity, steady approach, and unyielding demeanor. Likely ultra conservatives are just as unhappy as the progressive socialist left, but at least there are positives in the bill for the American people, avoiding default.

McCarthy has truly shown his metal in this down-to-the-wire event. The vote to adopt this bill will determine who gets to claim responsibility for its passage or defeat in the 2024 election. Hopefully, both sides will come to the table despite their differences and put the American people first – for a change.

“It is in the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier. God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both.”

-John Witherspoon, 1776
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