Crucial Gas Pipeline Delayed Again Amid Continued Activist Pressure

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The Mountain Valley Pipeline’s (MVP) expected completion date has been pushed back amid continued activist and regulatory pressure, E&E News reported Thursday.

Initially planned to be completed by the end of this year, the MVP now will not be ready for operation until early 2024, and the costs for the project have risen from a projected $6.6 billion to $7.2 billion, according to E&E News. Equitrans, the company which will operate the pipeline upon its completion, cited “unforeseen factors” for the delays in a regulatory filing as activists continue to target the pipeline despite its victory in federal courts.

Earlier in October, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Equitrans announced a consent agreement to address any outstanding safety issues that the pipeline may have, which include the possibility that its external coating may be damaged due to excessive sun exposure, according to E&E News. That agreement appears to have mostly resolved the points raised in an August notice from PHMSA pertaining to the pipe’s structural integrity, which included concerns about installation and in addition to the sun exposure. (RELATED: Biden Admin Hands $400K To Eco-Activists Who Fought To Block Key Gas Pipeline)

President Joe Biden and then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed to fast-track the pipeline’s construction as a part of June’s debt-ceiling deal. Their agreement, reflected in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, instructed all relevant federal agencies to issue all outstanding permits for the pipeline so that construction could proceed to completion.

However, the project proceeded to have a tumultuous summer in the federal court system, which ultimately eased when the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the last prominent challenges that could have directly jeopardized construction’s completion in August.

Despite the losses in the courts, climate activists have continued to target the pipeline and its construction with the deliberate aim of staving off its completion, according to E&E News.

One group, called Appalachians Against Pipelines, routinely uploads photos and videos of activists trespassing onto construction sites and attaching themselves to construction equipment, using their bodies as de facto shields, according to E&E News. Earlier this week, dozens of  so-called “pipeline fighters” walked onto a MVP construction area in the Elliston, Virginia, area to impede construction efforts.

“In keeping with stringent security protocols, unauthorized persons are not permitted to access the right-of-way during construction or to be within the marked limits of disturbance,” Natalie Cox, an Equitrans spokeswoman, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We strongly condemn these protesters’ blatant disregard for safety and the rule of law, and, regardless of their view of the project, these unlawful and dangerous activities must end,” she continued, adding that “the illegal and reckless behaviors exhibited by certain protesters have served only to create unnecessary safety risks for themselves, project crew members, first responders, and our community members.” 

 “As we have consistently stated, the safe construction and operation of the MVP project remains our top priority and ensuring public safety is paramount,” Cox concluded.

The PHMSA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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