Regulatory Tracker

Mountain Valley Pipeline

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Quick Take

FERC authrized MVP to begin operations of the Mountain Valley Pipeline on June 11, 2024.

Why It Matters

The MVP is a 305-mile natural gas pipeline being constructed in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, with its Greene Interconnect Project already built in West Virginia and the Southgate Expansion Project proposed to be built in North Carolina. Mountain Valley, LLC (Mountain Valley) proposed the MVP in 2016, as a joint venture between Equitrans Midstream, NextEra Energy, ConEdison Gas Midstream, WGL Midstream, and RGC Midstream. MVP was projected to cost $3.7 billion and be completed by Oct. 13, 2020, but as of Feb 2024, Equitrans Midstream estimated project costs between $7.57 and 7.63 billion, and has been granted an extension from FERC until Oct. 13, 2026 to put the pipeline in service. FERC authorized MVP to begin operations on June 11, 2024.

To learn more about the natural gas interstate pipeline approval process, read our primer here.

Environmental organizations and community advocates have challenged the adequacy of permits and decision-making by various federal and state agencies throughout MVP’s project development due to MVP’s potential impacts on environmental justice communities, federal and state waterways, forests and natural resources, and endangered species and their habitats. Agencies’ actions include:

  1. FERC’s environmental impact analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and FERC’s finding of public interest in granting MVP’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN);
  2. Virginia and West Virginia’s state water quality certifications pursuant to section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA);
  3. Army Corps Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 Verifications and individual Department of Army (DA) permits to build across and impact streams, wetlands, and waters of the US;
  4. BLM’s NEPA analyses and right-of-way (ROW) grants, permitting construction of the pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest;
  5. Forest Service’s NEPA analyses, records of decision (RODs) concurring with BLM’s ROW grant, and proposed amendments to the Forest Plan for the Jefferson National Forest (JNF Forest Plan); and
  6. US Fish & Wildlife Service’s assessments of MVP’s impacts on threatened and endangered species and critical habitats, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On this page we track MVP’s federal environmental permitting and litigation, but do not track the project’s condemnation or eminent domain proceedings in detail.

Current Status

Roughly 20 miles of the MVP remains to be constructed, including water crossings that require approval from the Army Corps and state environmental agencies. On June 8, 2023, West Virginia issued MVP a water quality certification for the third time, following the Fourth Circuit vacating the previous certification on Apr. 3, 2023. Virginia’s water quality certification for MVP was upheld by the Fourth Circuit upon challenge, on Mar. 29, 2023. On June 23, 2023, the Army Corps issued Mountain Valley individual District of Army (DA) permits for pending water-crossings.

USFWS issued a new biological opinion for MVP on Feb. 28, 2023, replacing the 2020 biological opinion that was vacated by the Fourth Circuit on Feb. 3, 2020 for inadequately accounting for the impacts of MVP construction on endangered and threatened species. On Apr. 10, 2023, environmental groups filed a petition for review of this new biological opinion in the Fourth Circuit. On May 15, 2023, the Forest Service issued an ROD amending the Jefferson National Forest Plan to allow construction of MVP, and on May 17, 2023, BLM issued MVP a ROW to construct through the Jefferson National Forest. Environmental groups challenged these permits on June 1, 2023.

On June 3, 2023, Congress passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which directs federal agencies to approve the remaining federal permits for the MVP and prohibits courts from reviewing these agency approvals. On June 14, 2023, following the passage of the FRA, the federal agencies filed motions to dismiss the cases arguing that the Fourth Circuit no longer has jurisdiction over the cases. Environmental groups oppose the motions to dismiss, arguing that the FRA attempts to unconstitutionally dictate the outcome of the Fourth Circuit litigation, and file motions to stay the federal permits. The court stayed the federal permits while the litigation is pending, and on July 14, 2023 MVP filed an emergency application with the US Supreme Court seeking to vacate the Fourth Circuit’s stay orders so that the pipeline can resume construction. On June 27, 2023, the Supreme Court vacated the Fourth Circuit’s stay orders and on Aug. 11, 2023 the Fourth Circuit dismissed legal challenges to three environmental permits, allowing construction to move forward.

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Oct. 23, 2015 Mountain Valley files an application for a CPCN with FERC to construct, own, and operate the MVP. The application states that MVP is a 301 mile interstate natural gas pipeline that could transport up to 2 million dekatherms (Dth) (2 billion cubic feet (Bcf)) per day of natural gas from the Appalachian Basin shale region in West Virginia to Virginia, “to satisfy the growing demand for natural gas” in the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern markets. FERC Docket No. CP16-10-000.

Feb. 25, 2016 Mountain Valley files an application for a CWA Section 404 Permit, with the Army Corps Huntington, WV, Norfolk, VA, and Pittsburgh, PA Districts, for impacts on waters of the US. This application serves as a pre-construction notification under the Army Corps’ NWP 12 program. For the State of Virginia, the joint permit application also serves as an application to the VA Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) and VA Marine Resources Commission for a CWA Section 401 Certification.

Apr. 5, 2016 Mountain Valley submits a right of way (ROW) grant application to BLM and the Forest Service, to cross federal lands through Jefferson National Forest. Jefferson National Forest is managed by the Forest Service and the Army Corps. Section 28 of the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) charges BLM with issuing ROW grants through federal land when it is managed by more than one federal agency.

Sept. 16, 2016 FERC completes a preliminary assessment of the proposed project’s impacts on the environment under NEPA and issues a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). The DEIS notes that Mountain Valley estimates the total cost of the MVP would be about $3.7 billion, and concludes that “construction and operation of the projects would result in limited adverse environmental impacts, with the exception of impacts on forest.” FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-000.

Oct. 13, 2016 Mountain Valley files an updated route plan with FERC, requiring the agency to reexamine permitting for the project. The proposed route “incorporates certain minor route variations and minor route deviations” in response to stakeholder comments and consultations and information gathered during MVP’s construction evaluations. FERC Docket No. CP16-10-000.

Dec. 22, 2016 Mountain Valley submits an application for a section 401 certificate under the CWA to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) for certification of project-related activities that are not regulated by the Army Corps (WV 401 Water Quality Certification).

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Jan. 6, 2017 The Army Corps issues new NWPs, including NWP 12 that applies to MVP’s activities discharging dredged or fill material into waters of the US. This permit is for utility lines, including pipelines transporting gaseous substances over waters of the US. This permit becomes effective on Mar. 19, 2017 and expires on March 18, 2022. Dept. of Army Permit Application No. NAO-2015-08998 (VMRC #2016-0305).

Mar. 23, 2017 VADEQ issues MVP a section 401 Water Quality Certification (VA 401 Water Quality Certification). On the same day, WVDEP also issues MVP a WV 401 Water Quality Certification, subject to WV state conditions to protect water quality. Among these is a requirement that in-stream construction to be undertaken and completed within a 72-hour window.

May 17, 2017 The Army Corps reissues its Jan. 6, 2017 NWP 12s, incorporating the regional conditions imposed by the Huntington, WV District into the full NWP 12.

May 24, 2017 VADEQ announces that it will not require an individual section 401 Water Quality permit for stream and wetland crossings from MVP until the Army Corps makes a determination on whether MVP will be authorized under the NWP 12 program.

Jun. 9, 2017 Environmental groups challenge the WV 401 Water Quality Certification issued Mar. 23, 2017, in the Fourth Circuit. Sierra Club v. WVDEP, No. 17-1714 (4th Cir. 2017).

Jun. 23, 2017 FERC completes the initial NEPA review of MVP and issues a final EIS (2017 FERC FEIS). FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-000.

Jul. 7, 2017 US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issues a biological assessment for MVP evaluating the effects of the proposed project on 15 species listed as endangered or threatened, finding the project is likely to adversely affect the Roanoke logperch, the Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat, and four plant species.

Sept. 13, 2017 WVDEP files a motion in the Fourth Circuit requesting the WV 401 Water Quality Permit be remanded back to WVDEP, for “reconsider[ation of] its antidegradation analysis,” as a requirement for issuing a 401 Water Quality Certification, as raised by environmental groups. Sierra Club v. WVDEP, No. 17-1714 (4th Cir. 2017).

Sept. 17, 2017 WVDEP revokes the WV 401 Water Quality Certification, noting that the revocation “will allow the agency to reevaluate the complete application to determine whether the State’s certification is in compliance with” section 401 of the CWA. In an email to WVDEP staff members, Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton states that the agency is better able to address the complaints raised in public comments through the state Oil and Gas Construction Stormwater Permit for MVP (WV0116815) instead of through the WV 401 Water Quality Certification.

Oct. 13, 2017 After reviewing the final EIS, FERC approves the MVP CPCN, authorizing construction of the project and providing it with eminent domain authority pursuant to the Natural Gas Act (NGA). FERC dismisses challenges concerning the need for MVP’s added capacity given the generation shifting that would be allowed by the Clean Power Plan. FERC also approves a return on equity of 14%. The CPCN requires MVP to construct the project and make it available for service by October 13, 2020. FERC also grants MVP’s request for a Part 157, Subpart F blanket construction certificate, authorizing certain routine activities related to operation of the pipeline. Commissioner LaFleur dissents, finding that the MVP is not in the public interest because of the impacts it will have on water bodies and the environment, as well as cultural, historic, and natural resources. She further points out that the Commission had evaluated a “single pipeline alternative,” merging the path of the MVP with another natural gas pipeline proposed around the same time, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and found that doing so would “essentially eliminate all environmental impacts on resources along the currently proposed MVP route.” FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10, CP16-13.

Nov. 1, 2017 WVDEP files MVP’s WV 401 Water Quality Waiver with FERC, for the FERC-regulated discharges that fall outside of the Army Corps’ jurisdiction.

Nov. 21, 2017 USFWS issues a biological opinion and incidental take statement for the MVP, following its July 7, 2017 biological assessment, in accordance with Section 7 of the ESA.

Dec. 1, 2017 The Forest Service issues a final record of decision (ROD), amending the 2004 Jefferson National Forest Revised Land and Resource Management Plan (JNF Forest Plan). The ROD modifies and removes certain standards previously set by the Forest Service to allow the construction methods that will be used by MVP. The Forest Service relies on the 2017 FERC FEIS to issue its ROD, and includes conditions to protect forest resources. This ROD serves as a concurrence to BLM’s grant of a ROW and Temporary-Use Permit (TUP) to MVP, to cross parts of Jefferson National Forest managed by the Forest Service.

Dec. 6, 2017 Sierra Club and other environmental organizations file a petition for review in the Fourth Circuit, challenging the Forest Service’s amendment to the JNF Forest Plan, made in its Dec. 1, 2017 ROD. Sierra Club, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Serv., No. 17-02399 (4th Cir. 2018) (consolidated with 18-01019, 18-01012, 18-01036).

Dec. 8, 2017 VADEQ reissues a VA 401 Water Quality Certification to MVP, after withdrawing the first issuance on May 24, 2017. The same day, Sierra Club and other environmental groups file a complaint in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the VA 401 Water Quality Certification. Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, Nos. 17-2406, 17-2433 (4th Cir. 2018).

Dec. 11, 2017 Army Corps Huntington, WV District provides BLM with a ROD and letter of concurrence from the Forest Service for MVP to cross the land in Jefferson National Forest managed by the Army Corps.

Dec. 20, 2017 FERC issues MVP a Programmatic Agreement (PA), signed by FERC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Offices of WV and VA, the Forest Service, BLM, and the National Park Service (NPS). This PA directs the Forest Service to amend the JNF Forest Plan to allow for construction of the MVP. FERC Docket No. CP16-10-000.

Dec. 20, 2017 BLM issues a ROD approving the ROW for MVP through the Jefferson National Forest after the Forest Service and Army Corps issued concurrent RODs on Dec. 1, 2017 and Dec. 11, 2017 respectively. All attachments to BLM’s ROD can be found here.

Dec. 22, 2017 Army Corps Huntington, WV District issues the WV NWP 12 Verification under section 404 of the CWA.

Dec. 22, 2017 Appalachian Voices and other environmental organizations file a petition for review in the D.C. Circuit, challenging MVP’s CPCN. Petitioners raise sixteen challenges to FERC’s environmental assessment of the MVP. Appalachian Voices v. FERC, No. 17-1271, (consolidated with 18-1002, 18-1175, 18-1177, 18-1186, 18-1216, 18-1223) (D.C. Cir. 2019).

Dec. 26, 2017 Army Corps Norfolk, VA District issues MVP a VA NWP 12 Verification, subject to various conditions addressing project impact, land remediation, construction plan alteration, and other regulatory duties. This permit indicates that if MVP violates the conditions of this VA NWP 12 Verification, an individual Department of Army (DA) permit will be required.

Dec. 28, 2017 BLM grants MVP a ROW and TUP  through Jefferson National Forest. Once the MVP meets all the terms and conditions of the ROW, the BLM will issue a notice-to-proceed, allowing MVP to begin construction. All attachments to BLM’s ROD can be found here. DOI BLM Serial Nos. VA-ES-058143 and WV-ES-058142.

Jan. 4, 2018 Sierra Club and environmental organizations file a petition for review in the Fourth Circuit, challenging the BLM’s grant of ROW and TUP permits, issued Dec. 28, 2017. Sierra Club, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Serv., No. 18-01019 (4th Cir. 2018) [consolidated with 17-02399, 18-01012, 18-01036].

Feb. 13, 2018 Sierra Club and environmental organizations file a petition for review in the Fourth Circuit, seeking review of the WV NWP 12 Verification issued on Dec. 22, 2017. Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nos. 18-01173, 18-01757 (4th Cir. 2018).

May 15, 2018 Sierra Club and other environmental organizations send a letter to the Army Corps Huntington, WV District requesting a stay of the entire NWP 12 until the Fourth Circuit rules on the validity of the applicability of the NWP 12 to MVP.

May 21, 2018 The Army Corps Huntington, WV District suspends the WV NWP 12 Verifications for four river crossings associated with the MVP, in accordance with 33 C.F.R. § 330.5(d)(1).

Jun. 26, 2018 Sierra Club and other environmental organizations file an appeal in the Fourth Circuit, challenging the Army Corps Dec. 26, 2017 VA NWP 12 Verification. Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps, No. 18-01713 (4th Cir. 2018).

Jul. 3, 2018 The Army Corps Huntington, WV District reinstates with modifications the WV NWP 12 Verification for Gauley River, Greenbrier River, Meadow River, and Elk River, because MVP will now be using the “dry” open-cut method to cross these rivers. In reinstating this Verification, the Army Corps relies on the 2017 FERC FEIS, which concluded that the dry open-cut method was preferable over the wet open-cut method for these river crossings. The Army Corps also references a May 31, 2018 letter from the WVDEP that determines that the dry open-cut method is more protective of water quality of the four rivers. This reinstated permit replaces WV’s state 72-hour time restriction with the Department of Army’s special condition that MVP’s crossing over the four rivers will be conducted using the dry open-cut method and a water-filled bladder cofferdam approach.

Jul. 27, 2018 The Fourth Circuit strikes down the BLM’s and Forest Service’s approved ROW grant and ROD, respectively, allowing MVP to build through the Jefferson National Forest. The court finds that the agencies had failed to comply with NEPA, National Forest Management Act (NFMA), and the MLA in issuing the permits. The court also finds that the Forest Service erroneously relied on the FERC FEIS because FERC did not resolve issues raised by the Forest Service regarding sedimentation analysis. Sierra Club, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Serv., Nos. 17-02399, 18-01012, 18-01019, 18-01036 (4th Cir. 2018).

Jul. 31, 2018 Sierra Club and environmental groups submit a letter to FERC, requesting the agency issue an order halting construction of the MVP because the Fourth Circuit invalidated MVP’s federal permits on July 27, 2018. The letter cites Environmental Condition 9 of MVP’s CPCN, which mandates that MVP have all requisite federal authorizations prior to project construction. Accordingly, with the ROW and TUP permits by BLM and the Forest Service remanded back to the agencies, MVP no longer has federal authorization to continue construction.

Aug. 1, 2018 The Fourth Circuit upholds MVP’s VA 401 Water Quality Certification. The court finds that the Board and VADEQ’s due diligence in evaluating whether additional 401 certifications were necessary to protect water quality, was not “arbitrary and capricious”. Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, Nos. 17-2406, 17-2433 (4th Cir. 2018).

Aug. 3, 2018 FERC issues MVP a stop work order, mandating construction activity be ceased for all portions of the pipeline.

Oct. 5, 2018 The Army Corps Norfolk, VA District suspends the VA NWP 12 Verification for MVP.

Oct. 10, 2018 The Fourth Circuit grants MVP a limited rehearing on a BLM decision to cross part of the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike Trail. Sierra Club, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Serv., Nos. 17-02399, 18-01012, 18-01019, 18-01036 (4th Cir. 2018).

Nov. 6, 2018 Mountain Valley files an application with FERC for authorization to construct the Southgate Expansion Project (Southgate), pursuant to section 7(c) of the NGA. This pipeline would be approximately 75 miles, connecting Rockingham and Alamance Counties, NC to Pittsylvania County, VA, with a capacity of 375,000 Dth (375 million cubic feet (Mcf)) of natural gas per day. Mountain Valley includes its binding precedent agreement with PSNC Energy for 300,000 Dth/d of capacity as evidence of “ample market demand” for the project. Southgate is estimated to be put into service on Nov. 1, 2020.

Nov. 27, 2018 The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacates MVP’s WV NWP 12 Verification, concluding that the Corps “lacked authority to substitute the ‘dry cut’ requirement ‘in lieu of’ West Virginia’s 72-hour temporal restriction”. WV’s restriction requires that for the 404 NWP 12 to be used in the state, the builder cannot take more than 72 hours to complete construction across a stream or river. Further, if one water crossing in a project is ineligible for the permit, it cannot be used for any of the crossings. Since MVP stated that it requires more than 72 hours to complete construction across four rivers, the project cannot use the NWP 12 to cross the rivers and must instead apply for individual permits for each crossing.  Additionally, the court holds that WVDEP cannot waive its own special conditions of the permit without following notice-and-comment procedure. Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nos. 18-01173, 18-01757 (4th Cir. 2018).

Dec. 7, 2018 Virginia’s attorney general and DEQ file a lawsuit against Mountain Valley for repeated erosion, sediment, and stormwater violations during rainstorms. The suit identifies 180 instances between June and November 2018 where MVP failed to repair ineffective and inadequate erosion control measures along 106 miles of the MVP’s total 303.5 miles located in Virginia. Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights, a non-profit, maintains a database of all “variance” requests filed by MVP with FERC. These variance requests are required to be filed when a developer intends to undertake activities that deviate from the original work plan filed with FERC, per the Environmental Conditions outlined in MVP’s CPCN.

Feb. 19, 2019 The D.C. Circuit denies environmental organizations’ petition to review MVP’s CPCN. In upholding the CPCN, the court finds that FERC’s analysis that the project is in the public interest and there is a market need for the MVP was “reasonable and supported by substantial evidence”. The court also holds that the 14% rate of return on equity (ROE) approved for MVP as a “new market entrant” was reasonable. Appalachian Voices v. FERC, No. 17-1271, Consolidated with 18-1002, 18-1175, 18-1177, 18-1186, 18-1216, 18-1223 (D.C. Cir. 2019).

Jun. 3, 2019 Mountain Valley files an application seeking authorization to construct and operate the Greene Interconnect Project in Monroe County, West Virginia. Mountain Valley states that this project would deliver up to 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas from the MVP mainline to the Columbia KA System running from Kentucky to Maryland. FERC granted MVP’s request for a Part 157, Subpart F blanket construction certificate on Oct. 13, 2017, authorizing certain routine activities related to operation of the pipeline. Pursuant to 18 C.F.R. 157.205(h), activities proposed under a blanket certificate are automatically authorized unless a protest of the activity is filed within 60 days of FERC’s public notice. FERC Docket. No. CP19-477-000.

Aug. 2, 2019 VADEQ issues a stop-work instruction to MVP after an inspection finds that Mountain Valley failed to use proper and appropriate sediment and erosion control measures. VADEQ determines that an “imminent and substantial adverse impact to water quality” is likely to occur due to MVP’s land-disturbing activities.

Aug. 12, 2019 Sierra Club submits a letter to USFWS requesting to stay the Nov. 21, 2017 biological opinion and incidental take statement for the MVP. On the same day, environmental groups file a lawsuit in the Fourth Circuit, requesting the Fourth Circuit vacate the USFWS’s decision and order the agency to reevaluate the project’s impact on endangered species. Wild Virginia v. Dept. of the Interior, No. 19-1866 (4th Cir., 2019).

Aug. 13, 2019 Mountain Valley resubmits an application to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) for a 401 Individual Water Quality Certification (NC 401 Water Quality Certification) and Jordan Lake Buffer Authorization Certificate for the Southgate expansion project. This project will be a 75-mile underground pipeline, with approximately 48 miles lying in North Carolina. Mountain Valley’s first application for these permits was denied by NCDEQ on June 3, 2019 based on procedural grounds, awaiting FERC’s DEIS. MVP’s application materials to NCDEQ can be found here.

Aug. 15, 2019 Mountain Valley voluntarily suspends new construction, in response to the Aug. 12, 2019 letter Sierra Club submitted to USFWS. Mountain Valley files a letter with FERC, outlining the terms of its voluntary suspension to minimize impact on the Indiana bat, Roanoke logperch, and the candy darter.

Aug. 16, 2019 VADEQ lifts the stop work instruction issued on Aug. 2, 2019.

Aug. 28, 2019 FERC sends a letter to USFWS, requesting that the agency reinitiate an ESA consultation to assess the MVP’s impact on the following endangered or threatened species: Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, Roanoke logperch, and candy darter, pursuant to section 7 of the ESA. This consultation could result in the USFWS biological opinion for the MVP being withdrawn or amended.

Oct. 11, 2019 The Fourth Circuit issues a stay of USFWS’s Nov. 21, 2017 biological opinion and incidental take statement, and grants the Department of Interior’s (DOI) motion to hold the litigation in abeyance until USFWS completes the ESA re-consultation. Wild Virginia v. Department of the Interior, No. 19-1866 (4th Cir., 2019). On the same day, Virginia reaches a settlement with MVP in its Dec. 7, 2018 lawsuit that will impose a $2.15 million civil penalty on Mountain Valley and third-party monitoring on the project.

Oct. 15, 2019 FERC’s Office of Energy Projects issues a stop work order until further review can be conducted on the four endangered or threatened species. The order makes an exception for construction required for restoration and stabilization of the ROW and work areas but does not specifically define “restoration and stabilization”.

Feb. 14, 2020 FERC issues the FEIS for Southgate, finding that while  the project would result in some adverse impacts, those impacts would be at “less-than-significant” levels if MVP implements FERC’s recommendations. This FEIS is prepared with input from Army Corps and  USFWS.

Apr. 16, 2020 FERC authorizes MVP to use its Part 157, Subpart F blanket certificate, issued Oct. 13, 2017, to construct and operate the Greene Interconnect Project in Monroe County, WV. FERC Docket. No. CP19-477-000.

May 1, 2020 Mountain Valley submits a revised ROW application to BLM to address the issues raised by the Fourth Circuit when it vacated BLM’s ROW on July 27, 2018.

Jun. 18, 2020 FERC grants a CPCN for Southgate, approving the construction and operation of the expansion pipeline in North Carolina. Commissioner Glick dissents, highlighting the Commission’s failure to evaluate the project’s impact on climate change and consider national greenhouse gas emissions, thereby identifying the Commission’s flawed analysis in determining whether a project is in the public interest. He also discusses the 14% ROE approved for Southgate’s initial rates, stating that the Commission incorrectly categorized Southgate as a new entrant into the market, instead of as an incremental expansion project that should receive a lower rate.

July 5, 2020 Dominion Energy and Duke Energy cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline due to litigation risk, significant project cost increases ($4.5 billion to $8 billion), and timing delays (at least a 3.5 year delay).

Aug. 11, 2020 NCDEQ denies the NC 401 Water Quality Certification and the Jordan Lake Buffer Authorization Certificate for Southgate, citing the uncertainty of completing the main MVP pipeline as undermining the fundamental purpose of Southgate.

Aug. 18, 2020 The NPS re-issues a ROW for MVP to operate and maintain just under 0.5 miles of the pipeline through Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, managed by the NPS. The ROW applies for a ten-year term and is issued by NPS following a finding that the environmental impact of operations of the pipeline during the term will not be “controversial” or “significant,” since MVP completed construction of the pipeline through Blue Ridge Parkway in 2019.

Aug. 25, 2020 Mountain Valley files a request to FERC for an extension of time for its CPCN to complete MVP until Oct. 13, 2022. FERC Dockets No. CP16-10-000, CP16-13-000.

Sept. 4, 2020 USFWS issues a revised biological opinion and incidental take statement on the MVP following its reinitiated consultation under section 7 of the ESA.

Sept. 10, 2020 Mountain Valley files suit in the Fourth Circuit, challenging NCDEQ’s Aug, 11, 2020 denial of the NC 401 Water Quality Certification. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLV v. NCDEQ, No. 20-01971 (4th Cir. 2021).

Sept. 15, 2020 The Army Corps proposes modifying and reissuing its 52 existing NWPs, including the NWP 12 applicable to MVP (“2020 NWPs”). The proposed modification to the current NWP 12 would change NWP 12’s authorization of “utility line activities” to authorizing only oil and natural gas pipeline activities, dividing the rest of the authorizations among three new proposed additional NWPs.

Sep. 25, 2020 The Army Corps Huntington, WV, Pittsburgh, PA, and the Norfolk, VA Districts concurrently reissue the NWP 12 Verifications, reverifying that the MVP’s proposed discharge of dredged and/or fill material into the waters of the US will comply with the criteria for operation under the NWP 12. The Norfolk, VA District’s issuance was a reinstatement of its prior Verification allowing the NWP 12 to apply to MVP’s activities in the district (“VA NWP 12 Reinstatement”). With these verifications, MVP does not need to comply with the individual permitting process for the river crossings.

Sept. 28, 2020 Sierra Club and other organizations file petitions for agency review of the WV NWP 12 Verification and VA NWP 12 Reinstatement pursuant to the NGA, 15 U.S.C. s. 717r(d)(1). Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng’rs, Nos. 20-2039, 20-2042 (4th Cir. 2020).

Sept. 30, 2020 Army Corps Norfolk, VA District proposes regional conditions for the 2020 NWPs applicable in Virginia. This proposal contains conditions specific to NWP 12, including alignment of the pipeline to “avoid[] and minimize[] wetland and stream impacts to the maximum extent practicable.”

Oct. 9, 2020 FERC issues an order partially authorizing Mountain Valley to resume constructing MVP, excluding areas within and around the Jefferson National Forest, stating that completing construction and restoration along the pipeline path would have the least impact on the environmental and affected landowners. FERC also concludes that despite MVP causing “slightly different” sedimentation and erosion impacts as compared to those projected in the 2017 FEIS, the deviation was “not significant enough” to warrant a supplemental EIS. This order also grants MVP a two-year extension of time until Oct. 13, 2022, to complete the project. FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-000, CP19-477-000.

Oct. 27, 2020 Environmental organizations file a petition in the Fourth Circuit, challenging the Sept. 4, 2020 USFWS biological opinion and incidental take statement. Appalachian Voices v. United States Dep’t of Interior, No. 20-2159 (4th Cir. 2022).

Nov. 18, 2020 Mountain Valley files a request with FERC to amend its CPCN authorization to cross 69 remaining wetlands and waterbodies by trenchless method (conventional bore) as opposed to open-cut method authorized by the CPCN. FERC Docket No. CP21-12-000. This design change is in response to the pending review of the WV and VA NWP 12 Verifications before the Fourth Circuit.

Dec. 1, 2020. Fourth Circuit issues a stay of the WV and VA NWP 12 Verifications issued by the Army Corps Huntington, WV and Norfolk, VA Districts on Sept. 25, 2020. These NWP 12 verifications reauthorize MVP to cross waters of the US using an open-cut method, pursuant to section 404 of the CWA. The court finds that the issuances are likely not compliant with the NGA and stays the issuances until they can be reviewed on the merits. By operating under the more general NWP 12, MVP would not have to undertake the more “arduous and time-consuming” individual permitting process under the CWA that requires the permits to be tailored to specific projects. Challenges by environmental groups to the WV NWP 12 Verification and VA NWP 12 Reinstatement that the MVP can be constructed in those Districts under the NWP 12 argues that the pipeline should instead require individual permitting under the CWA. Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nos. 20-2039, 20-2042 (4th Cir. 2020).

Dec. 1, 2020 The Forest Service issues a final Supplemental EIS (2020 FSEIS), in response to the Fourth Circuit revoking the Forest Service’s previous ROD on Jul. 27, 2018. The FSEIS evaluates the “no action” and “proposed action” alternatives in preparation for issuing MVP a new ROD required to cross through Jefferson National Forest.

Dec. 17, 2020 FERC revises its Oct. 9, 2020 order to reduce the exclusion zone around the Jefferson National Forest and allow construction to resume outside the new exclusion zone. FERC bases its analysis on additional information provided by MVP, finding that project construction in the disputed area would not lead to sediment in any portion of the Jefferson National Forest. FERC also states that completion of MVP and final restoration is “best for the environment and affected landowners.”

Dec. 18, 2020 Environmental groups seek rehearing and stay of FERC’s Dec. 17, 2020 Order, claiming that FERC is allowing MVP to construct the pipeline in the absence of certain federal authorizations, in violation of Environmental Condition 9 of MVP’s 2017 CPCN.

Dec. 21, 2020 VADEQ submits Section 401 Water Quality Certifications to the Army Corps, supplementing the Corps’ Proposed 2020 NWPs and the Sept. 30, 2020 Regional Conditions proposed by the Army Corps Norfolk, VA District. VADEQ notes that it is “unprecedented” for the DEQ to provide 401 Water Quality Certification decisions for proposed NWPs, as in the past it has only done so once final NWPs are published.

Dec. 22, 2020 Environmental organizations file a petition in the D.C. Circuit, challenging FERC’s Oct. 9, 2020 order that allowed MVP to resume construction around Jefferson National Forest. Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 20-1512 (D.C. Cir. 2023).

Jan. 7, 2021 FERC issues an Environmental Assessment (EA) under NEPA, for MVP’s Nov. 18, 2020 proposed amendment, finding that the amended method of crossing 69 waterbodies and wetlands from open-cut to conventional bore method would “result in less impact to resources.” This EA supplements the 2017 FERC FEIS. FERC Docket No. CP21-12-000.

Jan. 11, 2021 The Forest Service issues a ROD concurring with BLM in granting MVP a ROW and TUP across federal lands in Jefferson National Forest. The Forest Service proposes to amend 11 standards in the JNF Forest Plan that would then allow MVP’s construction plan to be consistent with the Forest Plan. To issue this ROD, the Forest Service relies on its 2020 FSEIS and the 2017 FERC FEIS. On the same day, environmental groups file a lawsuit in the Fourth Circuit challenging this ROD. Wild VA v. US Forest Serv., No. 21-1039 (4th Cir. 2022).

Jan. 13, 2021 The Army Corps reissues and modifies 12 existing NWPs, 4 new NWPs, and 32 general conditions. The reissued NWP 12 now applies to “oil and natural gas pipeline activities” including construction, maintenance, and repair of pipelines, and associated discharge and dredging activities, which include MVP’s proposed activities. The general conditions address soil erosion and sediment controls, also applicable to MVP. The Army Corps is allowed to issue general permits for a period of up to five years, after which they must be revised. 33 U.S.C. § 1344(e)(2). This revision to 16 NWPs out of the 59 total NWPs comes in the last days of the Trump Administration, even though the Jan. 6, 2017 NWPs do not expire until Mar. 18, 2022.

Jan. 14, 2021 BLM issues a ROD approving a 30-year ROW and TUP for MVP on federal lands. The ROD applies to the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. BLM relies on the 2020 FSEIS prepared by the Forest Service in compliance with NEPA, as well as the 2017 FERC FEIS in issuing the ROD.

Jan. 20, 2021 Environmental groups file a lawsuit in the Fourth Circuit challenging the BLM ROD issued on Jan. 14, 2021. Wild VA v. US Bureau of Land Mgmt., No. 21-1082 (4th Cir. 2022).

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Jan. 26, 2021 Mountain Valley withdraws its Nov. 18, 2020 request to amend its CPCN in an effort to comply with section 404 of the CWA, explaining that it intended to conduct a “comprehensive review of all outstanding waterbody and wetland crossings.” FERC Docket. No. CP21-12-000. On the same day, the Fourth Circuit hears oral arguments in MVP’s case challenging NCDEQ’s denial to issue the NC 401 Water Quality Certification for Southgate. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLV v. NCDEQ, No. 20-01971 (4th Cir. 2021).

Feb. 19, 2021 Mountain Valley re-files an application to amend its CPCN. Among other proposed amendments, Mountain Valley proposes to change the crossing method for 181 water bodies and wetlands at 120 locations from open cut to trenchless. FERC Docket No. CP21-57-000. 

Feb. 19, 2021 Mountain Valley files an individual permit application with Army Corps Huntington, WV, Norfolk, VA, and Pittsburgh, PA Districts, for individual stream and wetland crossings, in accordance with section 404 of the CWA. This application voluntarily requests that the Army Corps District Verifications for the general NWP 12 for MVP be revoked. The Fourth Circuit previously vacated these Verifications twice, first on Nov. 27, 2018, and then on Dec. 1, 2020. This permit application also serves as an application to VADEQ and Virginia Marine Resources Commission for a CWA section 401 permit.

Mar. 4, 2021 Mountain Valley submits a Joint Permit Application to the VADEQ seeking individual permits for construction in wetland and stream crossings.

Mar. 11, 2021 The Fourth Circuit finds NCDEQ’s denial of MVP’s Section 401 Clean Water Act permit application for Southgate to be legal. However, the court vacates and remands the denial for inadequate explanation of grounds for denial of certification. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLV v. NCDEQ, No. 20-01971 (4th Cir. 2021).

Mar. 24, 2021 FERC issues an order denying environmental groups’ request to stay its Dec. 17, 2020 order authorizing construction of MVP. This order also shortens the exclusion zone around Jefferson National Forest, allowing MVP to recommence construction near the forest. FERC Docket No. CP16-10-000.

Mar. 29, 2021 Army Corps Huntington, WV District publishes a draft individual permit for MVP for proposed discharge into waters of the US, for public comment. 

May 3, 2021 Environmental groups challenge Army Corps’ Jan. 13, 2021 re-issued NWP 12 in federal District Court for the District of Montana, claiming violations of ESA, NEPA, CWA, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) due to inadequate assessment of environmental impacts. Center for Biological Diversity v. Spellmon et al., Case No. 4:21-cv-00047-BMM (D. Mont. 2021).

May 5, 2021 NCDEQ denies MVP’s 401 Water Quality Certification for Southgate for the second time. The DEQ first denied this certification on Aug. 11 2020, citing the significant “uncertainty” surrounding MVP’s mainline project.

May 7, 2021 Mountain Valley submits an application to WVDEP for a new 401 Water Quality Certification. 

May 27, 2021 EPA Region 3 Wetlands Branch sends a letter to the Army Corps following the Army Corps’ Mar. 29, 2021 public notice, recommending the Army Corps not issue individual DA permits to MVP for stream and wetland crossings. EPA states that it has “substantial concerns” with the proposed project, including an inadequate assessment and mitigation of direct, secondary, and cumulative impacts in the Upper Roanoke, Gauley, Elk, and the Middle New watersheds, among other Virginia and West Virginia streams and wetlands. 

Aug. 13, 2021 FERC issues an EA in response to MVP’s amended CPCN application. In this assessment, FERC finds no evidence that the project would cause a disproportionate adverse health or environmental impact on minority, low-income, or other vulnerable populations.

Sept. 23, 2021 Environmental organizations reach a settlement with Army Corps and MVP regarding the Dec. 26, 2017 VA NWP 12 Verification for MVP. On the same day, the Fourth Circuit grants a motion to voluntarily dismiss the case. Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps, No. 18-01713 (4th Cir. 2018).

Sept. 29, 2021 Mountain Valley files a request for extension of time with FERC to place the Greene Interconnect Project into service. Mountain Valley requests until Oct. 13, 2022, stating that construction of the project is complete, it cannot be placed into service until the MVP mainline is completely constructed. On Oct. 9, 2020, FERC granted Mountain Valley’s request for an extension of time to construct the mainline until Oct. 13, 2022. FERC Docket No. 19-477-000. 

Dec. 20, 2021 VADEQ issues its second Section 401 Water Quality Certification (VA II 401 Water Quality Certification). This permit authorizes a total of 9.41 acres of impacts to surface waters, allowing MVP to trench streams and wetlands.

Dec. 22, 2021 Sierra Club and other environmental groups challenge VADEQ’s issuance of MVP’s surface water discharge permit, arguing the agency did not properly consider alternatives that have less of an impact on the waters of the US. Oral arguments have been scheduled for Jan. 24, 2023. Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, No. 21-2425 (4th Cir. 2021). 

Dec. 30, 2021 WVDEP issues a CWA section 401 water quality certification to MVP (WV II 401 Water Quality Certification). In considering MVP’s application, WVDEP reviewed the project for compliance with the CWA section 401 Certification Rule in effect before Sept. 11, 2020 as well as the revised rule issued under the Trump administration in 2020. WVDEP finds the MVP project complies with both versions of the rule in issuing the 401 certification.

Jan. 3, 2022 Sierra Club and other petitioners file a petition for review of WVDEP’s issuance of the WV II 401 Water Quality Certification. Sierra Club v. WVDEP, 4th Cir., No. 22-1008 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jan. 25, 2022 The Fourth Circuit vacates BLM and the Forest Service’s approval to build the MVP crossing through the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia. The court finds the original agency approval, on Jul. 27, 2018, and the revised approval fail to comply with NEPA, NFMA, and MLA. Wild VA. v. US. Forest Serv., Nos. 21-1039, 21-01082 (4th Cir. 2022).

Feb. 3, 2022 The Fourth Circuit finds USFWS’s biological opinion and incidental take statement for MVP  inadequately accounts for the impacts on the candy darter and the Roanoke logperch. The USFWS Opinion is vacated and remanded back to the agency. Appalachian Voices v. United States Dep’t of Interior, No. 20-2159 (4th Cir. 2022).

Apr. 8, 2022 FERC issues an order amending MVP’s CPCN, allowing Mountain Valley to change the crossing method for 183 water bodies and wetlands at 120 locations during construction. In the order, FERC noted that the outstanding actions required by law prior to continuing the construction of the MVP are: completion of consultation pursuant to the ESA; receipt of the Corps authorization, pursuant to section 404 of the CWA, to conduct the open-cut crossings; and authorization from the Forest Service and BLM to construct in the Jefferson National Forest. 

May 3, 2022 Equitrans publishes its 2022 First Quarter Report, announcing that it intends to file for new permits from the Forest Service and BLM, to allow construction of MVP through 3.5 miles of the Jefferson National Forest. The Fourth Circuit has ruled twice that the Forest Service and BLM’s approved permits for the MVP to build through the federal lands were invalid, because the agencies had failed to comply with NEPA, NFMA, and MLA in issuing the permits. Wild VA. v. US. Forest Serv., Nos. 21-1039, 21-01082 (4th Cir. 2022).

Jun. 3, 2022 MVP files an amended ROW application with the BLM for the same proposed route through Jefferson National Forest, after the Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded the Forest Service and BLM RODs on Jan. 25, 2022.

Jun. 21, 2022 The D.C. Circuit Court rules in favor of FERC and MVP in landowners’ challenge seeking to prevent MVP from using the eminent domain authority FERC delegated through the CPCN. The court holds that the NGA creates an exclusive review scheme for challenging pipeline certificates, precluding the Plaintiffs’ challenge to FERC’s issuance of the CPCN in the D.C. Circuit., which therefore makes the D.C. Circuit court the wrong venue for this suit. Bohon v. FERC, No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2022). 

Jun. 24, 2022 Mountain Valley files a request with FERC for a 4-year extension of time to complete construction of the MVP, until October 13, 2026, citing litigation and permitting delays outside of Mountain Valley’s control.

Jun. 28, 2022 The D.C. Circuit upholds FERC’s CPCN for the Southgate Project, after environmental groups challenged the 2020 FEIS because FERC-approved practices for preventing erosion and sedimentation had failed on the mainline project. The court finds that the 2020 FEIS adequately addresses potential mitigation measures for erosion and runoff, distinguishing these measures from previously ineffective measures. Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 20-1427 (D.C. Cir. 2022).

Aug. 23, 2022 FERC issues the MVP a four-year permit extension, giving project developers until October 13, 2026 to complete the pipeline. FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-009, CP19-477-002, CP21-57-002. 

Sept. 9, 2022 Environmental petitioners’ challenge of Army Corps’ Jan. 13, 2021 re-issued NWP 12 before the District Court for the District of Montana is transferred to the District Court for D.C. Center for Biological Diversity v. Spellmon et al., Case No. 1:22-cv-02586 (D.D.C. 2022).

Sept. 15, 2022 Petitioners in Bohon v. FERC, No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2022) file a petition for Supreme Court review, challenging the D.C. Circuit’s interpretation of the NGA. Petitioners’ case before the D.C. Circuit, dismissed for being brought in the wrong venue, focused on the constitutionality of Congress’s delegation of eminent domain power and legislative power to FERC in the NGA. This appeal contests the premise that the proper venue for this challenge is before FERC. Bohon v. FERC, No. 22-256 (2023).

Sept. 22, 2022 Environmental organizations file a request for rehearing of FERC’s Aug. 23, 2022 order granting MVP an extension of time until Oct. 13, 2026. The organizations argue that MVP failed to establish good cause for an extension, and that FERC failed to assess new information that undermines FERC’s 2017 public convenience and necessity determination and NEPA analysis. FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-009, CP19-477-002, CP21-57-002.

Oct. 20, 2022 Mountain Valley files a Motion of Voluntary Dismissal in the M.D. North Carolina District Court, stating that it will no longer be seeking the use of eminent domain to condemn land across 70 different properties for construction of the MVP.

Oct. 24, 2022 FERC denies environmental groups’ request to rehear its August 23, 2022 decision to provide MVP with a 4-year extension. FERC will address arguments raised in the request for rehearing in a future order. FERC Docket No. CP16-10-010.

Oct. 25, 2022 The Fourth Circuit hears oral arguments in the lawsuit challenging the Dec. 30, 2021 WV II 401 Water Quality Certification. In this case, environmental advocate petitioners challenge WVDEP’s determination that MVP’s construction proposal will comply with WV state water quality standards. Sierra Club v. WVDEP, No. 22-1008 (4th Cir. 2023).

Nov. 17, 2022 The Forest Service announces that it is preparing a draft supplemental EIS for MVP, which will be published for public comment shortly. The Forest Service is analyzing two alternatives: i) amending the JNF Forest Plan to allow MVP to cross through Jefferson National Forest, and ii) a “no action” alternative wherein MVP would not be given a ROW grant to cross the Jefferson National Forest. The Fourth Circuit vacated the Forest Service’s 2020 ROD on Jan. 25, 2022 after finding inadequate compliance with NFMA and NEPA. Wild VA. V. US. Forest Serv., Nos. 21-1039, 21-01082 (4th Cir. 2022). 

Dec. 12, 2022 Army Corps Huntington, WV, Norfolk, VA, and Pittsburgh, PA Districts issue a public notice for public comment on supplemental information provided by MVP. This information supplements MVP’s Mar. 29, 2021 application for a DA Permit and describes MVP’s plan for reduction of overall impacts to waters of the US, as well as a stream and wetland restoration plan.

Dec. 23, 2022 The Forest Service publishes a draft Supplemental EIS (DSEIS) to the 2017 FERC FEIS and the 2020 Forest Service FSEIS, for MVP. The DSEIS evaluates the “proposed action” and “no action” options in preparation for issuing a ROD. It finds that the short-term effects of MVP’s proposed action, with certain measures implemented, would be “minor” for water resources. The DSEIS also finds that MVP is likely to adversely affect four species, and that a formal ESA consultation with USFWS will determine appropriate mitigation measures. The DSEIS is open for public comment till Feb. 21, 2023, and all relevant documents can be found here. Environmental NGOs challenge FERC’s grant of extension of time to MVP in the D.C. Circuit. Appalachian Voices, et al v. FERC, Docket No. 22-01330 (D.C. Cir. Dec 23, 2022).

Jan. 24, 2023 The Fourth Circuit hears oral arguments challenging VADEQ’s issuance of the VA II 401 Water Quality Certification. Environmental groups petitioned the court to invalidate the VA II 401 Water Quality Certification for failing to evaluate “preferable locations” for MVP’s crossings, and for ignoring expert commentary recommending all pipeline crossings should be underground to minimize impact on the environment. Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, No. 21-2425 (4th Cir. 2021).

Feb. 17, 2023 FERC affirms its Aug. 23, 2022 approval of MVP’s four-year extension request as in the interest of the public. In reaching this decision, FERC states that the delays in pipeline construction related to litigation and licensing approvals cannot be attributed to MVP, since government agencies are respondents in all cases pending before the Fourth Circuit. MVP cannot be held responsible for the agencies’ analysis and review of permit applications that are being challenged, in determining whether MVP has shown good cause in requesting an extension of time to construct. Further, FERC dismisses the petitioner’s argument that FERC’s 2017 finding of public convenience and necessity is undermined by new information about the market need for natural gas, as a “collateral attack” on the underlying CPCN that does not warrant further consideration. Finally, FERC dismisses petitioner’s request for a new EIS for MVP for NEPA compliance. FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-009, CP19-477-002, CP21-57-002.

Feb. 28, 2023 USFWS issues a new biological opinion and incidental take statement for MVP, replacing the agency’s 2020 biological opinion which was vacated by the Fourth Circuit on Feb. 3, 2022. The USFWS finds that MVP’s proposed construction activities are “not likely to jeopardize” the continued existence of the Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat, the Roanoke logperch, the Virginia spiraea, or the candy darter. However, USFWS also notes that petitioners in the Fourth Circuit litigation submitted new materials and data to the USFWS as the agency was finalizing this biological opinion, and so the agency did not “meaningfully” consult the materials due to the timing. The USFWS cautions FERC and other agencies relying on this biological opinion to assess whether the additional materials and data submitted by petitioners impacts an agency’s ESA compliance, and also requests FERC to determine whether the new materials affect any of the “methodologies employed or findings made” in the new biological opinion such that it might require the USFWS to reinitiate an ESA consultation under 50 CFR 402.16.

Mar. 29, 2023 The Fourth Circuit upholds VADEQ’s issuance of the VA II 401 Water Quality Certification. The court finds that the Certification issuance is not arbitrary and capricious, and is therefore valid, because VADEQ examined the relevant data and provided an explanation of its decision. In issuing this Certification, VADEQ purportedly reviewed each crossing in MVP’s application and subsequent found that MVP adequately analyzed alternatives, therefore putting forward the “least environmentally damaging practicable alternative.” Sierra Club v. State Water Control Board, No. 21-2425 (4th Cir. 2021).

Apr. 3, 2023 The Fourth Circuit vacated the WV II 401 Water Quality Certification, finding WVDEP insufficiently addressed MVP’s history of violating state water regulations, and arbitrarily used its discretion in choosing not to conduct location-specific antidegradation review as required by West Virginia regulations. The court also finds that WVDEP  misinterpreted EPA’s guidance, and additionally failed in instate compliance requirements for the pipeline. Since the court vacated the WV II 401 Water Quality Certification rather than remanding it back to WVDEP, MVP must reapply and secure a new CWA section 401 permit from WVDEP to be granted an individual DA permit from the Army Corps pursuant to section 404 of the CWA. Sierra Club v. WVDEP, No. 22-1008 (4th Cir. 2023).

Apr. 10, 2023 Environmental groups file a petition for review of USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion in the Fourth Circuit. Petitioners argue that the USFWS i) increased the risk of extinction of the candy darter by ignoring the species’ baseline condition in its impact analysis pursuant to the ESA, ii) ignored studies and real-world information about the project’s sedimentation impacts, and iii) ignored the best available science about the impact on protected bat species’ habitats and the severity and duration of impacts to watersheds. Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, No. 23-1384 (4th Cir. 2023).

Apr. 14, 2023 The Forest Service issues a final Supplemental EIS (FSEIS) for MVP, identifying MVP’s proposed action to build through the Jefferson National Forest as the preferred alternative over “no action”. The Forest Service proposes to modify eleven JNF Forest Plan standards and add an “MVP-Specific Standard” to the JNF Forest Plan, incorporating elements of MVP’s plan of development for the pipeline. This FSEIS also acts as the Forest Service’s concurrence ROD, allowing BLM to issue MVP a 30-year ROW to construct, operate, and maintain the pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest. Public comment will be accepted until May 15, 2023.

Apr. 24, 2023 The US Supreme Court vacates and remands the D.C. Circuit’s Jun. 21, 2022 holding in Bohon v. FERC, No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2022) reversing the lower court’s holding that the D.C. Circuit is the wrong venue for this case. Bohon v. FERC, No. 22-256 (2023).

Apr. 27, 2023 Environmental groups file a motion in the Fourth Circuit requesting a stay of USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion and incidental take statement. Citing the USFWS’s finding that the habitats of the candy darter, Roanoke logperch, and some bat species are “particularly sensitive” to water quality impacts, the environmental groups request the stay to restrict MVP from causing irreparable harm by continuing construction while the groups’ petition for review of the biological opinion is pending before the court. Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, No. 23-1384 (4th Cir. 2023).

May 15, 2023 The Forest Service issues a ROD with project-specific amendments to the JNF Forest Plan to allow construction of MVP through the Jefferson National Forest. The Forest Service relies on the 2017 FERC FEIS, 2020 FSEIS, and 2023 FSEIS in making its decision. On the same day, the Forest Service submits this ROD to BLM, because the ROD serves as a concurrence to BLM’s grant of a ROW to MVP to cross parts of Jefferson National Forest managed by the Forest Service.

May 17, 2023  The BLM reissues an ROW  authorizing MVP’s construction in Jefferson National Forest, following its independent review of the Forest Service’s Apr. 14, 2023 FSEIS and May 15. 2023 concurring ROD.

May 26, 2023 The D.C. Circuit grants environmental organizations’ petition for review of FERC’s Oct. 9, 2020 orders allowing MVP to resume construction, finding that FERC inadequately explained its decision to not conduct a new supplemental EIS (SEIS). The court does not vacate FERC’s order, but does remand it back to the agency to either prepare a SEIS to accompany its decision to allow MVP to continue construction, or provide an explanation for absence of a new SEIS. Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 20-1512 (D.C. Cir. 2023).

Jun. 1, 2023 An environmental group files a petition for review of BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW in the Fourth Circuit, arguing that BLM violated  NEPA, the MLA, and the APA by authorizing MVP’s construction in Jefferson National Forest. On the same day, the environmental group also files a petition for review of the Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD, arguing that the Forest Service is in violation of NEPA, the NFMA, and the APA by concurring with BLM in issuing a ROW to MVP and amending the JNF Forest Plan to allow construction of MVP through the Jefferson National Forest. Wilderness Society v. US. Forest Serv., Nos. 23-1592 and 23-1594 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jun. 3, 2023 President Joe Biden signs the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which increases the federal debt limit and amends NEPA. The law also contains a provision for “expediti[ous] completion” of the MVP that directs agencies to approve all required federal permits and requires the Army Corps to issue MVP individual DA permits for stream crossings within 21 days. It also prohibits any court from reviewing any agency actions pertinent to the construction and initial operation of the pipeline and gives the D.C. Circuit exclusive jurisdiction over any claim challenging this section of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. For more information on how the Fiscal Responsibility Act affects federal permitting, listen to our podcast: CleanLaw Quick Take: The Debt Ceiling Bill and NEPA Permitting Reform.

Jun. 8, 2023 WVDEP issues a water quality certification for the project for the third time (WV III 401 Water Quality Certification), after the Fourth Circuit vacated the WV II 401 Water Quality Certification on Apr. 3, 2023. In making its decision, WVDEP reviewed the scope of MVP’s water crossings, the efficacy of MVP’s proposed water quality controls, the impacts of MVP’s already-completed water crossings on water quality, and consulted with the WV Dept. of Natural Resources, the US Army Corps, and VADEQ. In granting the WV III 401 Water Quality Certification, WVDEP added additional conditions for water crossings modeled after the conditions included in the Dec. 20, 2021 VA II 401 Water Quality Certification. These additional conditions include a requirement that MVP hire WVDEP-approved environmental auditors to document the project’s compliance with the environmental impact conditions of the certificate.

Jun. 14, 2023 The DOI files a motion to dismiss environmental groups’ petition for review of USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion and incidental take statement, citing the Fourth Circuit’s lack of jurisdiction over the matter after the Fiscal Responsibility Act (2023) became law on Jun. 3, 2023. DOI argues that the Fourth Circuit no longer has subject-matter jurisdiction over challenges to federal agency authorizations needed to construct and initially operate the MVP, and that only the D.C. Circuit has jurisdiction to adjudicate the constitutionality of the MVP-related provisions of the Act. Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, No. 23-1384 (4th Cir. 2023). On the same day, the Forest Service and BLM file motions to dismiss the environmental group’s petition for review of Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD and BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW, on the same grounds. Wilderness Society v. US. Forest Serv., Nos. 23-1592 and 23-1594 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jun. 23, 2023 Army Corps issues an individual DA permit for MVP to discharge dredged and/or fill materials, and work in and under navigable waters of the US in order to conduct all remaining open-cut waterbody crossings. In making this determination, the Army Corps states that it followed the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, NEPA, section 404 of the CWA, and section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.

Jun. 26, 2023 Environmental organizations, in opposing DOI’s motion to dismiss, contest the constitutionality of Section 324 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. This section states that no US court has jurisdiction to adjudicate challenges to federal agency authorizations needed to construct and initially operate the MVP, and that only the D.C. Circuit has the jurisdiction to adjudicate the constitutionality of Section 324. The environmental groups argue that Section 324 unconstitutionally requires the courts to decide a controversy in the favor of the government by establishing a rule of decision in a case pending before the courts. Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, No. 23-1384 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jun. 28, 2023 FERC issues an order authorizing all remaining MVP construction activities, following Congress’ approval of all federal permits needed for the completion of MVP in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (2023). FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-000, CP21-57-000.

Jul. 3, 2023 The environmental group files a motion for stay of Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD and BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW in the Fourth Circuit, pending review of the agency decisions before the court. Wilderness Society v. US. Forest Serv., Nos. 23-1592 and 23-1594 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jul. 10, 2023 For the third time, the Fourth Circuit stays Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD and BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW while the environmental group’s petition for review of the agency actions are pending before the court. Wilderness Society v. US. Forest Serv., Nos. 23-1592 and 23-1594 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jul. 11, 2023 The Fourth Circuit stays USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion and incidental take statement for the third time, while environmental groups’ petition for review of USFWS’s determination is under review before the court. Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, No. 23-1384 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jul. 12, 2023 The Fourth Circuit consolidates environmental groups’ lawsuits challenging the USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion and incidental take statement, Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD, and BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW. Oral argument on the agencies’ motions to dismiss is scheduled for Jul. 27, 2023. Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, Nos. 23-1384, 23-1592, 23-1594 (4th Cir. 2023).

Jul. 14, 2023 MVP files an emergency application with the Supreme Court to vacate the Fourth Circuit stays of USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion and incidental take statement, Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD, and BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW. MVP argues that the Fourth Circuit’s stays violate “emphatic congressional command” that the remaining MVP be completed, outlined in Section 324 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, and asks the Court to vacate the Fourth Circuit’s stay orders no later than July 26, 2023, before oral argument in those proceedings. Mountain Valley v. Wilderness Society, No. 23A35 (2023); Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, Nos. 23-1384, 23-1592, 23-1594 (4th Cir. 2023).

July 27, 2023 The Supreme Court vacates the Fourth Circuit’s stay orders in the three cases challenging USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion and incidental take statement, Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD, and BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW, but provides no reasoning for doing so. This now allows MVP to continue construction through the Jefferson National Forest. In its application for the stay orders to be vacated, MVP also sought a mandamus order from the Supreme Court holding that the Fourth Circuit now lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate the three cases. The Supreme Court declines to make that finding. Mountain Valley v. Wilderness Society, No. 23A35 (2023); Appalachian Voices v. Dept. of Interior, Nos. 23-1384, 23-1592, 23-1594 (4th Cir. 2023).

Aug. 7, 2023 Bohon landowners challenge the constitutionality of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, as a violation of the separation of powers. Bohon v. FERC, No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2022). 

Aug. 11, 2023 The Fourth Circuit dismisses environmental groups’ lawsuits challenging the USFWS’s Feb. 28, 2023 biological opinion and incidental take statement, Forest Service’s May 15, 2023 ROD, and BLM’s May 19, 2023 ROW. The court finds Congress amended the legal standard that previously applied to these permits by ratifying MVP’s permits notwithstanding applicable environmental laws, making the environmental groups’ petitions moot. The court also finds that Congress constitutionally removed these petitions from the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit, and vested the D.C. Circuit with exclusive jurisdiction over questions of the constitutionality of Section 324 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. 

Aug. 11, 2023 The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issues a notice of proposed safety order (NOPSO) to MVP, proposing certain safety measures to remedy the pipeline’s construction operations that might pose a risk to public safety, property, or the environment. PHMSA found that MVP’s pipeline segments have been buried without cathodic protection or other protective coating while the project was stalled due to legal challenges, which protects pipelines from corrosion or damage, and may have also been susceptible to land movement that could lead to pipeline failures.

Sept. 7, 2023 The D.C. Circuit granted environmental NGO’s request to voluntarily dismiss its case against FERC’s extension for MVP and denied Equitrans’ motions to dismiss or for summary denial as moot. Appalachian Voices, et al v. FERC, Docket No. 22-01330 (D.C. Cir. Dec 23, 2022).

Oct. 3, 2023 Equitrans executed an agreement with PHMSA that requires certain safety measures for the pipeline.

Oct. 16, 2023 A group of Virginia landowners filed an emergency injunction to stop construction of the MVP, and subsequently claimed that Mountain Valley had ramped up operations in retaliation for the landowners’ seeking injunction. Bohon v. FERC, D.C. Cir., No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2022). 

Oct. 24, 2023 The D.C. Circuit denied the landowners’ request for injunction in a one-page order without providing reasoning. Bohon v. FERC, D.C. Cir., No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2022). 

Nov. 26, 2023 Landowners file an emergency application to pause the Mountain Valley Pipeline with the Supreme Court. Bohon v. FERC, U.S., No. 23A485 (Nov. 26, 2023). 

Dec. 5, 2023 The Supreme Court denied the landowners’ emergency application to pause the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Bohon v. FERC, U.S., No. 23A485 (Nov. 26, 2023).

Dec. 19, 2023 FERC approved a request from the Mountain Valley Pipeline to charge a higher transportation rate for natural gas delivered by the pipeline in order to cover increasing project costs. FERC also approved a three-year extension to complete the Southgate extension, from June 2023 to June 2026. 

Dec. 29, 2023 In a letter to FERC, Mountain Valley Pipeline developers announced plans to halve the length of the Southgate extension in North Carolina from 72 miles to 31 miles. The new plan is designed to “include substantially fewer water crossings” and eliminate the need for a new compressor station. The decision comes amid pushback from local communities and regulatory rejection of a new compressor station.

Feb. 13, 2024 The DC Circuit dismissed landowners’ suit challenging FERC’s delegation of eminent domain authority to pipeline companies, holding that plaintiffs improperly filed their suit with the federal district court. Bohon v. FERC, No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2024).

March 27, 2024 The six landowners in Bohon v. FERC filed a second petition for the Supreme Court to review their case (petition for writ of certiorari). In April 2023, the nine justices unanimously vacated an earlier dismissal by the DC Circuit for lack of jurisdiction, and remanded the case. In Feb. 2024, the DC Circuit again dismissed the landowners’ suit, reaffirming its previous decision. In the current petition to the Supreme Court, the landowners challenged the constitutionality of Congress’s delegation of eminent domain power to FERC under the Natural Gas Act. Bohon v. FERC, No. 22-256 (2023); Bohon v. FERC, No. 20-5203 (D.C. Cir. 2024).

April 22, 2024 MVP filed a letter, requesting FERC issue an approval to begin service no later than May 23, 2024. FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-000, CP19-477-000, and CP21-57-000. On the same day, Appalachian Voices and other NGOs filed a petition asking the DC Circuit to review FERC’s order extending construction time because developers have changed the project to the extent that it needs to be reviewed again. Appalachian Voices, et al v. FERC, Docket No. 24-01094 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 22, 2024).

May 13, 2024 The Board of Supervisors for Montgomery County Virginia filed a letter, requesting FERC deny MVP’s request to be placed in service due to incomplete remediation and safety testing. FERC Docket Nos. CP16-10-000, CP19-477-000, and CP21-57-000.

June 11, 2024 FERC approved the request to place the MVP into service.