Feds approve contentious Mountain Valley Pipeline

Federal regulators have authorized the Mountain Valley Pipeline to begin operating following years of controversy that saw Democratic lawmakers split over the project.

The 303-mile pipeline, which is set to carry natural gas from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, has been approved, according to a Tuesday letter from Terry Turpin, director of the Office of Energy Projects at the bipartisan Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The end of the years-long fight over the pipeline comes after President Biden signed a law last year requiring it to be approved as part of a deal to lift the debt ceiling.

The project has divided Democrats.

Longtime Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who recently registered as an Independent, backed the project, which would have carried energy produced in his home state. As part of a separate deal with Manchin to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, Democratic leaders agreed to support the project.

However, progressive lawmakers opposed the build-out of additional fossil fuel infrastructure, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) raised local concerns about the pipeline that would run through his state.

Natalie Cox, a spokesperson for Equitrans Midstream, one of the companies behind the pipeline, said in a written statement that “final preparations are underway to begin commercial operations” for the project.

Cox did not give specific details as to when the pipeline would actually begin operating.

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