Natural gas pipeline continues construction through opposition

Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, an interstate natural gas pipeline, near Cowen, West Virginia, July 15, 2018.

After a ruling in its favor from the Supreme Court at the end of July, it appeared that construction on the 303-mile natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline could continue unhindered in Virginia. Not so.

The Supreme Court decision settled objections to a provision congressional Republicans had slipped into the debt ceiling bill passed in June. The provision directed government agencies to grant the needed permits for the pipeline’s completion. It moved jurisdiction over the pipeline from the Fourth Circuit Court – which had ruled against it in several cases – to the D.C. federal court.

Environmental groups came together and filed another lawsuit with the Fourth Circuit, saying the congressional action was unconstitutional. Mountain Valley responded by appealing the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in its favor on July 27.

Builders resumed construction on Aug. 4, with the project 94% complete and 20 linear miles left – but not without opposition.

Landowners Cletus and Beverly Bohon tried to fight the pipeline’s installation on their land, and a district court ruled against them in Sept. 2022, according to Law360, a database for real estate law. They appealed the court’s decision in April. They filed a brief Wednesday asking the Fourth Circuit to “overturn the decision of the Western Virginia district court handing over nearly three acres of their land to Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

The Supreme Court also isn’t done hearing about the pipeline. The Bohons are part of another lawsuit with other landowners that “challenges the constitutionality of a law that allows private companies to take people’s land,” according to Law360. That suit is pending in the court.

On Aug. 11, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Safety Order advising Equitrans Midstream, which owns the pipeline, to address the agency’s concerns over corrosion and land movement.

“We expect federal and state regulators will continue to audit our construction practices during the next few months, and we welcome their expertise and oversight,” said Natalie Cox, a spokesperson for Mountain Valley.

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