Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine issued a statement Wednesday following new legislative text with an unprecedented provision to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The text would exempt the pipeline from normal administrative and judicial review, according to the statement.
“We owe it to Virginians to ensure that any energy project that deeply affects their communities, even to the point of seizing their property, should only proceed following an orderly, fair, and transparent process overseen by energy and environmental agencies,” Kaine’s statement said. “That’s why I agree with the need to reform our broken process for permitting energy infrastructure. I am receptive to many of the permitting reform provisions announced today, though I believe the reform could be significantly improved by including my Pipeline Fairness, Transparency, and Responsible Development Act to strengthen public input into the permitting process.”
Kaine and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner introduced a version of the legislation in 2017, and reintroduced their Pipeline Fairness, Transparency, and Responsible Development Act last week. The legislation would strengthen the public’s ability to evaluate the impacts of and provide input on natural gas pipelines being considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Kaine said he does not support the pipeline-related provisions in the legislative text. More than 100 miles of the pipeline would be in Virginia, and he was excluded from discussions regarding the provisions.
“In that sense, I stand in the same position as many of my constituents who have felt ignored along the way,” Kaine said in his statement.
“Green-lighting the MVP is contrary to the spirit of permitting reform. Such a deliberate action by Congress to put its thumb on the scale and simply approve this project while shutting down opportunities for full administrative or judicial review is at odds with the bipartisan desire to have a more transparent and workable permitting process. It also contradicts a position I have publicly advocated for many years — that Congress should not be the decider of these projects, but should instead set up an effective administrative permitting system and allow it to work without legislative interference,” Kaine said.
Kaine said he objects to the “highly unusual provisions to eliminate any judicial review for key parts of the MVP process and strip jurisdiction away from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for cases involving the MVP.” The owners of the MVP may be dissatisfied with rulings of the Fourth Circuit, allowing one party disappointed with the actions of a court to pick a different court, bypass normal administrative processes, and eliminate meaningful judicial review of its project would sets “a dangerous precedent that could easily lead to abuse and even corruption in the future.”
Kaine said he encourages his colleagues to oppose the MPV provisions.