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Mountain Valley Pipeline, after years of development, says gas is ready to flow this week

The developers of Mountain Valley Pipeline are asking federal officials for authorization to place the project in service, requesting approval by tomorrow.

Final preparations are currently underway to begin flowing gas, company officials said.

“Multiple shippers have executed agreements to commence transporting volumes using the Project facilities beginning the day after the Project declares in-service, which further heightens the need for prompt authorization to meet market demands,” pipeline developers wrote in a memo to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Mountain Valley also conveyed to FERC that pipeline facilities are mechanically complete, as is hydrotesting. The final segments of the project are currently being purged and packed with natural gas, and all welding, testing, cleaning, drying, and tie-ins are complete, according to the project developers.

MVP developers first filed a request April 22 for authorization to place the pipeline in service. Mountain Valley supplemented the request May 21. At one point, developers had expected to begin operations for MVP on May 31.

MVP is a 303.5-mile interstate natural gas pipeline crossing nine West Virginia counties — Greenbrier, Monroe, Nicholas, Summers, Braxton, Harrison, Lewis, Webster and Wetzel — to transport natural gas to East Coast markets.

The project was first proposed in 2014, and the original in-service target date was 2018 at a cost of $3.5 billion.

The cost of the frequently-delayed pipeline project went up yet again, from the $7.6 billion estimated earlier this year to now about $7.85 billion.

Battles in the courtroom and through regulation extended that timeline by years and the cost by billions.

The project got a boost last year when a bipartisan debt ceiling agreement in Congress included language to compel federal agencies to approve all remaining permits for the pipeline while also shielding the project from further litigation.

West Virginia’s senators, Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, each vocally supported that.

Capito, R-W.Va., expressed gratification that the pipeline project seems on the verge of completion.

“Senator Capito has consistently supported the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, has fought to ensure it becomes operational, and is looking forward to the boost it will provide for American energy producers, workers, and consumers once it is in service,” said Peter Hoffman, Republican communications director for the U.S. Senate Committee and Environment and Public Workers.

The environmental organization Appalachian Voices objected that the project is under a consent agreement with the Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration, and that agency has not yet provided the public with key safety information — including whether the pipeline is in compliance with all aspects of the consent agreement and the results of a recent study of a pipe that ruptured during high-pressure testing.

“Community members are still waiting for answers to vital questions: What are the results of the metallurgical study of the ruptured pipe? Has Mountain Valley Pipeline satisfied the remaining requirements of its consent agreement with federal pipeline safety regulators? What conclusions have regulators drawn after reporting that dozens of anomalies were found during testing?” asked Jessica Sims, the Virginia field coordinator for Appalachian Voices.

“The community is in the dark about important safety and environmental considerations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and FERC, while Mountain Valley Pipeline pressures FERC to prioritize the company’s sales schedule.”

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