FERC issues updated MVP approval in potential sign of changing political priorities

FERC amended Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC’s (MVP) certificate order on Friday to allow changes to natural gas pipeline construction plans for 183 water and wetland crossings along the project route.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest action does not pave the way for the resumption of construction of the beleaguered 303-mile, Dth 2 million/d pipeline. MVP still needs to secure permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management – ​​all pending or stuck in court.

Still, analysts saw FERC’s latest move as potentially significant in the context of political pressure on the agency’s Democratic leadership and the Biden administration’s shifting energy policy priorities following the US invasion. Ukraine by Russia.

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While not allowing MVP to resume construction, FERC’s approval of MVP’s certificate amendment “represents substantial evidence of federal regulatory support for the project in response to actions taken by a motivated project sponsor spurred by geopolitical events,” analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC told clients in a research note following Friday’s order.

Extraordinary measures under the Defense Production Act may not apply in the case of MVP, but “federal agencies could move the project forward to resolve licensing issues by prioritizing it and focusing deployment of their own resources,” the ClearView analysts wrote. “We therefore view FERC’s action as the first in such a potential chain of events.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, criticized FERC Chairman Richard Glick’s policy priorities, arguing they have slowed gas project approvals natural and drives up energy costs. The senator, calling for using US fossil fuel production and exports to reduce Russia’s influence in global energy markets, specifically floated the idea of ​​accelerating the completion of the long-delayed MVP.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration agreed last month to expedite the approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects under a joint task force with the European Commission, all within the aim of reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

Along with FERC’s recent decision to roll back controversial policy revisions to natural gas project approvals, the MVP order also appears to address Manchin’s criticism of the agency, analysts say. from ClearView.

“We view the April 8 order as a direct response” to the senator’s concerns and “increasing political pressure resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy market upheavals,” they said. analysts write.

MVP, proposed to transport production from the Appalachian Basin of West Virginia to an interconnection with the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline in Virginia, is a joint venture of EQM Midstream Partners LP; NextEra Capital Holdings Inc.; Con Edison Transmission Inc.; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream LLC.

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