Beset by delays and legal challenges, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is asking for a four-year extension on a permit needed for the project to remain viable.
The operator of the project sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking for the extension of the certificate of public convenience and necessity in order to complete the 303-mile project. It’s the second extension being sought of the certificate that is required for new pipeline projects.
The transmission pipeline is being built from West Virginia into Virginia to feed 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica basins in Appalachia to the southern Atlantic states. The Mountain Valley pipeline is partly owned by Southpointe-based Equitrans, in a joint venture with four other companies.
But the project has faced numerous delays due to legal and regulatory challenges from environmental groups, and the cost has risen from about $3 billion to $6.6 billion while construction has taken years longer than anticipated. The developer had hoped to complete the pipeline and put it into service by the end of 2023.
“Due to the ongoing litigation and remand proceedings related to several permits and authorizations, Mountain Valley hereby requests an extension of time, until October 13, 2026, in the above identified dockets to complete construction of the Project and place the Project facilities into service. Mountain Valley has shown good cause for the extension as Project construction is substantially complete and Mountain Valley is actively working to reinstate all required permits so that it can complete construction as expeditiously as possible for the benefit of landowners, the environment, project shippers, and end-users of natural gas,” the letter states.
The letter notes that the operator has long-term commitments for the pipeline’s capacity in place.
“Mountain Valley has expended approximately $5.5 billion on the project to date and the Project’s total cost is targeted to be approximately $6.6 billion. Mountain Valley is currently expending more than $20 million per month on project stabilization and restoration while it works expeditiously to obtain all required authorizations. Despite a continual barrage of attacks from project opponents, Mountain Valley remains committed to completing this critical infrastructure project,” the letter continues.
Groups opposed to the pipeline project continue to challenge the necessity and safety of the pipeline.
“Mountain Valley Pipeline does not deserve another pass to harm the communities and water resources of Appalachia,” said Jessica Sims, Virginia field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, in a statement “MVP’s request for a 4-year certificate extension runs counter to May 2022 statements from a major equity holder in the project, Equitrans, which touted project completion in 2023. No matter how much time MVP asks for, it does not change the likelihood that the project can be built legally or safely, so FERC should deny this extension request.”
A decision from FERC is expected in the next few months.