The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a 303 mile pipeline being constructed to carry fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia. MVP is working to get approval for an extension of that pipeline, MVP Southgate, that will take it an additional 70 miles from southern Virginia into central North Carolina. If approved, the MVP Southgate project will cut through Rockingham and Alamance counties, ending at a point just south and east of Graham, below 1-85-40.
Haw River Assembly first learned about MVP Southgate in April of 2018. At this point, we held community meetings and sent mailings to every home along the proposed route. Neighbors started talking to each other and refusing access to surveys for the project. As a coalition of landowners, impacted community members, and environmentalists, we presented and gave public comment at every town and county commissioners meeting along the proposed route. Through this work, every town and county was made aware of their rights and heard the voices of their communities saying “we don’t want or need this project.” Alamance county unanimously signed a resolution to oppose the project, as did several towns along the route.
In early August of 2020, NC Department of Environmental Quality denied the 401 permit, which is the permit necessary to cross streams.
The permit was denied outright, meaning there were no conditions under which MVP Southgate could make corrections and resubmit. NCDEQ’s denial letter focused predominantly on the failures of the MVP mainline.
“Division staff have determined the Southgate project’s sole utility and purpose is tied to and wholly relies on the completion of the entire Mainline project,” DEQ’s letter reads. “The uncertainty of the MVP Mainline Project’s completion presents a critical risk to the achievability of the fundamental purpose of MVP Southgate,” it continued.
Most of the environmental harm would occur during construction, the division wrote, adding that it “finds it is inappropriate to unnecessarily risk impacting high-quality waters and drinking water supplies of North Carolinians.”
MVP Southgate has appealed the denial decision. Southern Environmental Law Center has intervened in the case on behalf of Haw River Assembly to defend NC DEQ’s decision to deny this critical permit. Theoretically, if MVP mainline gets their permits and legal challenges resolved, MVP Southgate could reapply.
This uncertainty around the worthiness of investing vast sums of money in a project that suffers from progressively decreasing certainty of success (and profit returns) is what killed the ACP. It can kill the MVP too.
On October 9, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) was given another two years to complete a natural gas pipeline already marked by six years of community opposition, environmental damage, legal fights and delays. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also lifted a stop- work order for all but a 25-mile segment of the interstate transmission line that includes the Jefferson National Forest and adjacent land. (Roanoke Times)
On October 16, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals imposed a temporary stay on MVP’s Nationwide 12 permits that had been requested by the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices and other environmental groups battling the 303-mile mainline project through West Virginia and Virginia.
“It’s a setback for the pipeline, which had been given the go-ahead last week to resume construction after a months long delay by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as well as receiving the key permits it needed. One of those permits, the so-called Nationwide 12 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, is at issue in this temporary stay while a full stay is considered.” (Pittsburgh Business News)
A Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) regarding MVP’s permit to cross national forests was recently posted in the Federal Register, initiating a 45 day comment period, ending November 9. The SEIS is used to determine whether or not a project, in this case the Mountain Valley Pipeline, can be permitted to cross a national forest. To comment or sign on to comment petitions visit POWHR’s How-To Comment Guide.
The Mountain Valley Watch needs volunteers to monitor construction and review aerial images. Sign up through the MVWatch Volunteer Interest Form. A virtual training is planned for November 1 and information will be sent to the volunteer list and posted on the MVWatch Facebook page.