It’s no secret that the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the proposed fracked gas pipeline that would stretch over 300 miles, gained national attention this year as part of Senator Manchin’s proposed permitting deal. As it currently stands, efforts to attach the permitting deal to must-pass legislation have reached a stalemate. The Mountain Valley Pipeline, however, remains a looming threat to residents throughout West Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia with the only thing stopping the project being federal permits.
On November 17, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management published a notice of intent to issue a new Supplemental Environmental Impact statement (SEIS) on the project, which could allow the project to move forward, despite federal courts twice striking down MVP’s permits and regardless of whether Sen. Manchin's deal passes. Should the construction of the pipeline proceed, it would irreversibly scar forests, including the Jefferson National Forest, leave waterways full of sediment and expose them (and the people that depend on them) to threats like toxic leaks.
The Wilderness Society has joined with 40 organizations in sending a letter to the USFS and BLM detailing our serious concerns and urging that they allow for public involvement. The letter requests that the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management comprehensively reevaluate the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s (MVP’s) proposed crossing of the Jefferson National Forest in the upcoming Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This re-evaluation should begin with a 30-day public scoping comment period due to the significant impacts already caused by the pipeline, substantial new information available since the previous invalidated SEIS was completed, and the threats the pipeline poses to the Jefferson National Forest and surrounding communities. In addition, our organizations request a public scoping meeting in the region.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline project is already causing significant and devastating impacts to the Jefferson National Forest. If the pipeline were to be completed and put into service, the greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to 19 million passenger vehicles, 23 coal plants, and account for at least 1% of all greenhouse gases from the US energy sector. These and other impacts must be thoroughly evaluated and factor into any final decision on the project.
The project, originally projected to be in service by 2020, is years behind schedule, more than $3 billion over budget, and, according to MVP’s own filings, only 55.8% complete. Construction, which began in 2018, under now voided authorizations, has led to over 450 water-quality-related violations in Virginia and West Virginia. Construction within the Jefferson National Forest would significantly threaten the integrity of the forest and continue to expose Virginia and West Virginia communities – and the water upon which they depend – to considerable environmental risks.
Allowing for an additional 30-day comment period and public scoping meeting would be an important opportunity for the public to expose the devastating impacts of the pipeline, who have already stood up in huge numbers to protest MVP’s construction. This time is no different.
For further information, please contact:
Jen Parravani, The Wilderness Society
(202) 601-1931, firstname.lastname@example.org