Army Corps gives Virginia more time on Mountain Valley Pipeline permit

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today partially granted a request from Virginia for additional time to review a water-crossing permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Under the Corps’ original timeline, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality would have had just four months to decide whether to approve or deny the permit, or waive its prerogative to review.

In a March 25 letter to the Corps, the DEQ said that under Virginia law, the project would require a Virginia Water Protection Permit for the water crossings. The DEQ requested a March 3, 2022 deadline in order to both study the project’s impacts on the hundreds of individual streams, rivers, wetlands and other waterways the pipeline would cross in Virginia, and to meet public notice, comment, hearing and other procedural requirements for making a decision on the permit.

The Corps has given the DEQ until December 31, 2021, to decide whether to authorize the MVP to cross Virginia water bodies. MVP developer Equitrans Midstream Corp. told its shareholders on May 4 that it was delaying its estimated in-service date to summer 2022 and increasing cost estimates to $6.2 billion because it “expected” such a time extension. That’s three-and-a-half years past its original target date and almost double the project cost since the MVP was announced in 2014.

Statement from Peter Anderson, Virginia Policy Director:

“This extension was absolutely essential—and we hope it will be sufficient—for Virginia regulators to thoroughly review the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s impacts on individual Virginia waters. It is a technical and demanding process, and doing the job right requires adequate resources and time. MVP has so far proven that it cannot bury a pipeline on Virginia’s steep mountain slopes without violating state water quality standards. By extending the review period, state and federal regulators have signaled that protecting water quality is a priority. Virginia citizens will stand for nothing less.”