FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Morgan Caplan, Sierra Club, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ridge Graham, Appalachian Voices, email@example.com, (828) 994-7444
Washington, D.C. – Despite overwhelming public opposition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a three-year extension of Mountain Valley Pipeline’s certificate for their Southgate extension. Commissioners Willie Phillips, Allison Clements and Mark Christie voted in the affirmative for the extension, and Commissioner James Danly recused himself from the vote. The proposed Southgate project would extend the mainline for 73 miles into North Carolina from Virginia.
In July, when FERC closed its comment period for MVP’s request, over 39,000 members of the public weighed in, including community leaders, grassroots groups and organizations like the NAACP Virginia State conference. In addition, state legislators including more than 50 North Carolina legislators and 22 Virginia legislators, as well as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Congresswomen Valerie Foushee and Kathy Manning, submitted comments. Of the comments submitted, the vast majority, more than 85% of commenters, asked FERC to deny MVP Southgate’s request.
Additionally, 28 federal legislators weighed in on August 16 in opposition to the certificate’s renewal, stating “If built, this pipeline would lock homes and businesses in the Southeast into the long-term use of natural gas during a critical moment in which we must transition away from fossil fuels to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” Four federal legislators reiterated their opposition to the project the day before FERC’s vote.
The Southgate project, much like the mainline, has been plagued with problems from the beginning — denied permits, eminent domain for private gain and environmental justice concerns.
First announced in 2018 and granted its original Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity by FERC in 2020, construction never began as the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality twice denied MVP Southgate a crucial water quality permit. MVP was also denied a critical air permit for Southgate’s proposed Lambert Compressor Station in Virginia in 2021, due to environmental justice concerns. Further, MVP had withdrawn its eminent domain cases against all North Carolina landowners along the Southgate route in 2022.
“FERC’s decision disregards the tens of thousands who weighed in asking for denial of the certificate extension” said Ridge Graham, North Carolina Program Manager for Appalachian Voices. “Granting MVP Southgate more time to potentially endanger communities and water resources is appalling given that MVP has made no attempts to reapply for missing permits. The project’s need is still absent and only justified by an agreement with a company that has been sold twice since Southgate was first announced.”
Senior Field Organizer for the Sierra Club Caroline Hansley said, “We are disappointed in FERC’s decision to grant an extension for this boondoggle of a project even after impacted residents, environmental justice organizations and state leaders – like Governor Cooper – came out in droves to urge the commission to deny MVP’s request. Our fight to ensure that this extension never sees completion is not over.”
“This project is unnecessary for North Carolinians. Our state legislators, Governor Cooper, local governments, and NCDEQ have spoken out against the “need” for this project,” said Emily Sutton, Haw Riverkeeper, Haw River Assembly. “The health and safety of our communities and the Haw River watershed should not be jeopardized for the profits of fossil fuel interests. We will continue to fight to protect the people and places we love.”
“We are extremely disappointed but never surprised by the results of a system created for profit. FERC’s decision to extend MVP Southgate’s certificate of “public need”, which subjects our streams, rivers and community members to seizing of land and irreversible pollution, against our will, with no proof of need, is a crime against us and future generations,” said Jason Crazy Bear Keck, Co-founder of 7 Directions of Service. “We will never give up on defending our lives, and the natural environment that makes life possible.”