Front Porch Blog

Anger and grief over MVP inclusion in debt deal are warranted, but the fight continues

People in MVP's path aren't bargaining chips. Photo by Jessica Sims

Hundreds showed up at a White House rally on June 8 to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Hundreds showed up at a White House rally on June 8 to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Photo by Jessica Sims

For those who have poured heart and soul into the fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline for nearly a decade, June 1 was a horrible night.

We had to watch as Sen. Joe Manchin’s months-long effort to ram through approval of the project via congressional mandate finally found the votes to succeed after the coalition fighting the pipeline defied expectations and defeated multiple efforts to attach similar language to must-pass bills last year.

We had to watch as Sen. Tim Kaine’s amendment to strip the odious provision failed, victim of fears that amending the debt ceiling deal and sending it back to the U.S. House of Representatives could risk a catastrophic default by the United States.

A sign opposing the Mountain Valley Pipeline at a June 8 White House rally

MVP opponents will continue to stand together against this destructive, unnecessary pipeline. Photo by Jessica Sims

Many in the fight are wrestling with anger and grief, wondering what comes next, now that Congress passed a bill ordering administrative agencies to issue remaining permits for MVP and attempting to strip courts of the jurisdiction to review them. There’s also a palpable sense of betrayal — a feeling that, for the sake of political expediency and to appease powerful corporate interests, President Joe Biden agreed to a deal that denied those along the MVP route the basic protections that every American deserves under our environmental laws.

That deal involved Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreeing to support Manchin’s legislative handouts to MVP in exchange for Manchin’s August vote for the Inflation Reduction Act – a climate, tax and health bill. The IRA contains historic and unprecedented investments to fight climate change and for environmental justice, but the MVP deal is a colossal leap backward on those fronts.

We won’t know what would have happened if Biden hadn’t made that deal. Would Manchin have used his pivotal role in the Senate to ram the provision through another way? Or would the communities that had so successfully pointed out the flaws with this project in court be breathing easier today as the pipeline continued its slide toward defeat? What we do know is that Biden, Schumer and Manchin made the pact. And wow, did our movement fight back!

With the help of many committed leaders in Congress — including Kaine, Sens. Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders, and House Natural Resources Chair Rep. Raul Grijalva — thousands of letters and phone calls from concerned residents across the country, and countless lobby visits, we defeated this dirty deal multiple times in 2022, despite efforts to tie it to critical government spending and defense bills. This movement is powerful! But when congressional and White House negotiators included it in the debt ceiling deal over Memorial Day, with the nation at the brink of default, we lost the amendment vote.

People in MVP’s path aren’t bargaining chips. Photo by Jessica Sims

So, where do we go from here? In the immediate, we find solidarity with the many who are reacting to — and pushing back against — this setback. We celebrate the perspectives of the community groups leading the fight, like the POWHR Coalition and 7 Directions of Service.

Upcoming #StopMVP Events

How We Protect Us: A Community Call about MVP Pipe Safety
June 22, 7-8:30 p.m.: This Zoom call, hosted by POWHR Coalition, will help community members along the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline learn how to protect themselves and one another.

Pipeline Visual Assessment Training
June 29, 7 p.m.: Construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline could resume soon. This West Virginia Rivers Coalition webinar will help train individuals in what to look for and how to report pollution using an app.

#StopMVPSouthgate Community Event
July 16: Details to come. Save the date! Haw River Ballroom, Saxapahaw, N.C.

We highlight the dangers of the resumption of construction. We raise concerns about the use of pipes in that construction that have sat in the sun for years longer than the industry recommends, their protective coatings degraded by UV rays and exposure to the outdoors.

We mobilize — from lobbying elected officials in Washington, D.C. to rallying with allies, to preparing for construction monitoring. We emphasize that the project is only 55.8% complete to full restoration, with 429 water crossings remaining and construction areas through some of the most steep, risky terrain. We help organizations like West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Mountain Valley Watch as they prepare volunteers for stream monitoring.

We will do everything in our power to hold the developers accountable, and we will push back against the renewal of the MVP Southgate’s certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Tell FERC to deny MVP Southgate’s request!

We will continue to work with and pressure the administration to expand and improve its environmental justice initiatives, and to ensure that those initiatives are implemented in ways that truly benefit communities that have been harmed in the past — while making our opposition clear when administration policies perpetuate ongoing injustice, as this deal did.

What we will not do is give up. We will continue to support the communities at the forefront of this battle. We will assess every option at our disposal.

MVP has always been a horrible idea, an injustice perpetrated on landowners and residents. The use of the debt ceiling negotiations to attempt to force completion of this project — despite repeated demonstrations that construction cannot be completed without gross violations of the law — is an affront to democracy that should not stand.

Call for safety protections!

Tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to require MVP to re-coat its pipes before construction resumes!

Call your legislators with this script:
“Hi, I’m ______, from _______ . MVP had no place in the Fiscal Responsibility Act and now, rushed construction will lead to more harm to Appalachia’s communities, water and mountains. Pipe for the project has been sitting out in some cases for over 5 years and is unsafe to use. Please ask FERC and PHMSA to require off-site recoating of the pipe for Mountain Valley Pipeline to reduce the risk of leak or explosion.”

Post to social media! Here are two sample tweets:
.@[YOURSENATOR/REP] Nat’l Pipe Coating Groups recommend no more than 6 mos in the sun for Fusion-bonded epoxy pipe – Mountain Valley Pipeline’s has been baking in the sun for over 5 years, making it more susceptible to failure. All pipe must be recoated! @FERC @PHMSA_DOT
.@FERC @FERC_OPP @PHMSA_DOT Mountain Valley Pipeline’s pipes have been in direct sunlight for years, degrading the coating + making them even less safe. Please require off-site re-coating before construction resumes.





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