Supreme Court Deals Blow To Environmental Groups, Reinstates Construction Of MVP Project

 July 28, 2023

Striking down a lower court ruling, from earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated an order that had blocked construction of the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from proceeding. In his comments, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said

“This decision to let construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline move forward again is the correct one,”

-Sen. Joe Manchin (D) WV

Thursday morning, in a short, unsigned order issued, the Supreme Court vacated the July 10 stay orders from the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The lower court’s ruling had sided with plaintiffs, environmental groups Wilderness Society and Appalachian Voices, which had sued to stop the pipeline construction. The 4th Circuit ruling was opposed by bipartisan lawmakers, the fossil fuel industry and surprisingly the Biden administration.

The Department of Justice wrote, in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court last week-

"Whatever benefit respondents or the court of appeals might believe would be gained by having the agencies again reconsider the challenged actions, Congress has determined that further reconsideration is unwarranted and has prioritized MVP’s 'timely' completion over interests addressed by any other federal statutes," …"That judgment is for Congress alone" .

-DOJ amicus brief to the Supreme Court

The Department of Justice brief was one of numerous briefs filed in the case. Opponents of the 4th Circuit ruling pointed to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the recent bipartisan debt limit bill President Biden signed in early June, which green-lighted all permits for the MVP project. Even The Biden administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of the pipeline's developer last week.

All filing briefs in support of the pipeline, were also-

  • The Laborers' International Union of North America (a large labor union)
  • GOP West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice
  • American Gas Association
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives

Biden’s earlier signing of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, essentially fast-tracked federal permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and shifted judicial review jurisdiction away from the 4th Circuit, known for its sympathies to Eco groups, who have loudly opposed the project.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Control agency, FERC, has recently granted MVP another 4-years to complete the project. Reportedly, the MVP will transport natural gas through 303 miles of West Virginia and Virginia. Public opposition has centered on challenging MVPs permitting through wetlands and national forests. It’s original budget of $3.5 billion is now estimated to be $6.2 billion..

Days after the lower court ruling, on July 14, the pipeline's developer asked the Supreme Court to vacate the stay. The high court gave plaintiffs until Tuesday to file a response. Reportedly, according to GOP Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler, (R) PA-

"The Fourth Circuit judges are not supreme rulers and lawful orders issued by the legislative and executive branches must be followed,"… "Congress was well within its power to restart the Mountain Valley Pipeline construction and usher in a new era of energy independence for the region."…"Instead of halting the pipeline, I urge the Supreme Court to plug up the ludicrous activism seeping out of the lower court so American families can enjoy lower energy costs, substantial land royalties, and most importantly — law and order in America,"

-GOP Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler, (R) PA

Reportedly, Reschenthaler led a group of seven fellow representatives, together with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) WV in filing a brief in support of the MVP project's permits. Sen. Joe Manchin,

(D) WV, who played a role in securing the pipeline in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, filed his own amicus brief in the case on July 18. In a statement Thursday, Manchin said-

"The Supreme Court has spoken and this decision to let construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline move forward again is the correct one. I am relieved that the highest court in the land has upheld the law Congress passed and the President signed.”

-Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) WV

According to the pipeline's developer, Equitrans Midstream, the MVP will transport about 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from West Virginia, to consumers in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions. Projected to generate new tax revenue of $40 million in for West Virginia, $10 million in new tax revenue for Virginia and up to $250 million in royalties for West Virginia landowners, the pipeline gives an economic boost to the region, in addition to creating lower consumer energy costs.

This decision, though years in coming, is a win for our justice system, the American people and as Reschenthaler said, effectively restores “law and order in America."

“Never, never, never give in!”

-Winston S. Churchill
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