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Local, state officials pressure feds over Mountain Valley Pipeline start date

Chris Graham
Mountain Valley Pipeline
Photo: Chris Graham/AFP

The developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have pushed back the start date for operations into early June, as local and state officials continue to urge federal regulators to deny the required authorizations needed to allow natural gas to begin flowing along the 303-mile path.

“The testing has shown all kinds of problems. There continue to be the kind of environmental violations that slowed them down before. It’s not like Congress waving a magic wand saying, ‘Do this project,’ made it a project being done well. So, I’m not happy with that,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who cited a recent pipe rupture during hydrostatic testing as revealing “some serious challenges” that need to be fixed.

The $7.85 billion pipeline, first proposed in 2014, with a projected completion date of 2018, has been beset by various legal, political and logistical challenges over the past decade.

The most recent issue was the May 1 rupture of a pipe at Bent Mountain in Roanoke County during testing, which only became known because a landowner reported that sediment-laden water had inundated her property to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

This led a group of 23 Virginia state lawmakers, and local leaders in Roanoke County and Montgomery County, to formally ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to put off the pipeline’s start date until it can be assured that all of the outstanding issues have been resolved.

“On May 1, 2024, the project suffered a substantial pipe failure within Roanoke County during hydrostatic testing,” Roanoke County Administrator Richard Caywood wrote in a letter to FERC that was made public on Wednesday.

“This rather dramatic pipe failure has caused a great deal of concern among our residents who live in the area and who appropriately ask: ‘What if the pipe failed with gas rather than water?’” Caywood wrote in the letter.

Russell Chisholm, co-director of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition is calling on Kaine and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., to push the FERC “for immediate investigation and enforcement of pipeline safety across the MVP route.”

“Their constituents’ lives are on the line because Congress greenlit this beleaguered project; their job is to meaningfully take action to protect us from a deadly explosion,” Chisholm said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].