U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said Thursday that he has formally filed an amendment to remove language from the debt-ceiling bill that passed the House this week that would expedite construction on the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The deal includes a provision that would approve the required permitting needed for the 303-mile pipeline that is to stretch from West Virginia through Virginia into North Carolina and would help developers avoid lawsuits challenging the project.
The provision was included in the debt-ceiling bill in line with the Biden administration’s routine fellating of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has yet to meet a fossil-fuel project that he doesn’t want to expedite.
Kaine, in a media call on Thursday, called the inclusion of the MVP provisions in the debt-ceiling bill “an outrageous giveaway that is unjustified and really nearly unprecedented.”
“A pipeline project isn’t built in the air. It involves taking people’s land,” Kaine said. “In Appalachia, where the Mountain Valley Pipeline goes through, there are a lot of people that aren’t very well off, and the land that they have, often it’s been in their family for generations. And the way a lot of my constituents see this is, Hold on a second, a wealthy company that’s worth billions wants to take my land to make billions more, and I get nothing out of it?”
Kaine noted that he has been consistent in not taking a yea or nay stance on the proposed pipeline, which has been in the works since 2014, saying Congress should not be in the business of making what should be permitting decisions by federal agencies.
“Having looked people in the eye for many, many years and told them that I would not put my thumb on the scale for either the approval of a pipeline or the selection of its route, I cannot support this provision of the debt-ceiling proposal that takes one project in the United States and exempts it from permitting and judicial review, just gives it a green light. I can’t support that,” Kaine said.
“This has nothing to do with the debt ceiling,” the senator said. “It shouldn’t have been added in. It hurts Virginia, and for me to vote for it, I would be voting against the position that I’ve consistently held for a decade, and then I’ve looked people in the eye and told them that we will not put our thumb on the scale on this or any other project. This is more than putting a thumb on the scale. This is putting a body of scale in favor of the company and in opposition to the residents who don’t want their land taken.”
Kaine told reporters that he doesn’t know if his amendment will get an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate.
“I’m working with the leadership and others to assure that I get a vote, because somebody needs to stand up,” Kaine said.