The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) last week received a new water quality permit from regulators in Virginia, a development that could prove critical in the quest for the Appalachian natural gas pipeline to overcome regulatory setbacks and complete construction.
The Virginia State Water Board, on the recommendation of staff from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, on Tuesday voted 3 to 2 to issue a Virginia Waters Protection Permit to the MVP. The permit is issued by the authority established under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
The permit issued by Virginia marks an important step towards completing a revamped permit and construction plan presented by developers in early 2021 as an alternative to the previous water crossing authorization which was blocked by legal challenges.
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Part of the new licensing plan involves securing CWA Section 401 approvals from the state of Virginia and West Virginia, the two states along the mountainous Dth / 2million pipeline route. d from the Marcellus Shale area to an interconnection with the transcontinental gas pipeline in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Missing water crossing permits “contributed significantly to project delays,” analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC wrote in a note to clients shortly after the Virginia board decision. “We expect West Virginia to also issue its pending clearance by the end of the year.”
State-issued permits are then expected to allow the US Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the pending clearance from CWA Section 404 early next year, analysts said.
In August, MVP approached completion of its revised watercourse crossing plan when it received an environmental assessment from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC initially certified the pipeline in a split decision in 2017, but a myriad of regulatory issues and legal setbacks have resulted in delays and cost overruns in intervening years.
MVP said construction of the 42-inch-diameter, 303-mile pipeline is nearly 94 percent complete, with 53 percent of the pipeline right-of-way now fully restored.
MVP is a joint venture of Equitrans Midstream Corp., NextEra Capital Holdings Inc., Con Edison Transmission Inc., WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream LLC.