CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With only a few miles left, developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline hope there is finally an end in site to construction of the natural gas transmission line which will stretch from Northern West Virginia into neighboring Virginia. However, opponents say very little about the project, which has been beset with regulatory and court delays, has changed.
Peter Anderson is the Virginia Policy Director of Appalachian Voices. The organization has been a chief opponent of the pipeline since its inception almost ten years ago. Anderson said the most recent court battles clearly show there are problems with the pipeline and the permits.
“The court looked at what West Virginia did in their permit and said, you’re certifying there’s a reasonable assurance water quality standards will not be violated in the state of West Virginia, but then they looked in the real world and said the state had cited the company almost 50 times for violation of state wate quality standards,” Anderson explained on MetroNews Talkline.
The most recent movement on the line was a victory for developers after the U.S. Forest Service gave its blessing for a third time to the project. But Anderson doesn’t believe the third time should be the charm.
“Just because the Forest Service has now seen it three times, doesn’t mean they got it right,” he explained.
Anderson said there are a couple of key problems his organization and most of the line’s opponents have with the pipeline.
“This is a uniquely risky project for environmental reasons. The federal government themselves say nearly 75 percent of the project’s route is through areas considered moderately high or high landslide risk,” he explained. “This is a project where there’s something for everyone to dislike. The climate impacts, forest, water, and soil impacts, endangered species impacts, or a lot of people oppose this project because they view it as an abuse of the government’s power and their property rights.”
Anderson finally noted the original reason for the pipeline was claimed to be a demand for natural gas to help generate electricity in the east. Since the project was first concieved, the landscape of power generation has changed. Anderson said with that so has the narrative of pipeline proponents.
“Developers did not say this project was for international export when they applied for the permits. I hear a lot of talking points now and the justification for MVP is shifting,” he said.
He added however, the pipeline is not connected to any facility which would allow for exports into Europe and further said the demand for natural gas in Europe has also decreased. Plus, Anderson wasn’t even sure the original plans for the pipeline were legitimate.
“Did anybody sign up to take capacity off this pipeline? Well, yes it is 100 percent subscribed, so they stamped it for approval. But it turns out the buyers of that capacity are simply corporate affiliates of the same companies which are invested in building the pipeline,” he said.