Statement from Appalachian Voices on U.S. Department of Energy inserting itself into the Mountain Valley Pipeline process

April 24, 2023

Dan Radmacher, Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683,

On the same day President Biden signed an executive order expanding and deepening his administration’s commitment to pursuing environmental justice through a whole-of-government approach, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stating the Mountain Valley Pipeline would improve energy reliability security, and asking the commission to proceed “expeditiously” with any further action on the project.

With no current action on the pipeline pending before FERC, the letter is an unnecessary and unusual step by the Biden administration, and one that contradicts the commitment to environmental justice highlighted in the administration’s new executive order signed on Friday.

The pipeline is routed through many counties with low-income, elderly and medically underserved populations. FERC found in its Environmental Impact Statement that eight of the 17 counties through which MVP would pass have poverty rates higher than statewide rates and 14 of the counties have more elderly populations than the state average.

Statement by Tom Cormons, executive director of Appalachian Voices:
“The Department of Energy’s decision to insert itself into the FERC process for Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project that has repeatedly failed to meet environmental standards, fails to appreciate the consequences for the environmental justice communities along the path of the pipeline, and for all communities suffering the harms of a rapidly warming planet. Last week, the president made a groundbreaking and necessary commitment to advancing environmental justice in his executive order, but to truly take a whole-of-government approach, no federal agency should attempt to place a thumb on the scale on behalf of this misguided project.”

MVP has had several environmental permits thrown out by courts since 2018, and the 300-mile project currently lacks federal authorizations from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a West Virginia state authorization under the Clean Water Act on April 3. Read more about the pipeline’s status in our updated report.

While claiming “the Department takes no position” on agency actions or pending litigation, Granholm’s letter mistakenly suggests the project would enhance energy reliability (in direct conflict with the agency’s own analysis), especially in light of “extreme weather events [that] continue to strain the U.S. energy system.” In truth, MVP would — if it is ever completed — exacerbate the very climate crisis that is causing an increasing number of extreme weather events. Experts estimate annual greenhouse gas emissions from the MVP’s lifecycle would be comparable to the operation of 26 to 37 new coal-fired power plants. Granholm also suggests, without supporting evidence, that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would strengthen national security.

Granholm’s letter also signals support for additional natural gas fracking, a process that harms human health and ecological balance in the communities where it takes place. Methane gas was once trumpeted as a “bridge fuel” to help the nation transition to renewable energy, but we now have cleaner alternatives, and the climate risks of increasing our reliance on methane gas far outweigh any supposed benefits to energy security.


Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.