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Supreme Court grants request to lift block on Mountain Valley Pipeline

BY ZACK BUDRYK - 07/27/23 10:52 AM ET

The Supreme Court on Thursday granted an emergency request from the company behind the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, overturning a lower court’s hold.

In an unsigned order with no public dissents, the court granted the request to vacate a stay on a segment of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

“The application to vacate stays presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted,” the court wrote in its one-page order.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., issued the temporary stay earlier this month. The broader project runs from northwest West Virginia to southern Virginia.

In the June deal to lift the federal debt ceiling, Congress included approval of the pipeline, a longtime priority of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and transferred jurisdiction from the Fourth Circuit to the federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

However, in July, the Fourth Circuit granted a request for a stay from the Wilderness Society.

Mountain Valley filed an emergency request shortly thereafter, arguing the Richmond court no longer retained jurisdiction following the legislation.

In response, Mountain Valley filed an emergency request with Chief Justice John Roberts asking for the stay to be vacated. Manchin, a coalition of House Republicans and the U.S. Solicitor General’s office all signed amicus briefs in support of the pipeline operator. The brief was also joined by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) and Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican challenger for Manchin’s seat in 2024.

The stay applied to construction of a section of the natural gas pipeline that would run through parts of the Jefferson National Forest, the last remaining section of the 300-mile project.

Both of West Virginia’s senators praised the court’s decision in separate statements Thursday morning.

“I am relieved that the highest court in the land has upheld the law Congress passed and the President signed,” Manchin said.

“All necessary permits have been issued and approved, we passed bipartisan legislation in Congress, the president signed that legislation into law, and now the Supreme Court has spoken: construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline can finally resume, which is a major win for American energy and American jobs,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said in a statement.

The operator of the pipeline also praised the decision.

“We are grateful for the quick action of the United States Supreme Court in vacating the previously issued stay orders regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project,” Natalie Cox, VP for corporate communications at pipeline operator Equitrans Midstream, said in a statement to The Hill. “We are also grateful for the excellent and persuasive advocacy of the administration through the Solicitor General; and for the many well-reasoned and supportive amicus briefs filed by MVP’s shippers, end-users, union workers, industry associations, and by elected officials who recognize the importance of the project.”

The pipeline has long been opposed by environmentalist groups who say it threatens ecosystems and the environment in Appalachia, while some members of Congress, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), have said they do not necessarily oppose the pipeline but are against using legislation as the mechanism for approval.

“Allowing construction of this destructive and unnecessary fracked gas pipeline to proceed puts the profits of a few corporations ahead of the health and safety of Appalachian communities,” Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, said in a statement.

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a threat to our water, our air, and our climate. We will continue to argue that Congress’ greenlight of this dangerous pipeline was unconstitutional and will exhaust every effort to stop it.”

This story was updated at 12:58 p.m.



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