Manchin ‘Infuriated’ Natural Gas Pipeline Blocked By Appeals Court—Again
Joe Manchin must feel as afflicted as Job.
As the Biden Administration undermines the provisions the West Virginia Senator negotiated in return for his vote last year for the Inflation Reduction Act, a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Monday struck down another permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The 304-mile pipeline has been stuck in regulatory and legal purgatory for several years. [emphasis, links added]
It aims to deliver natural gas from Appalachia’s Marcellus and Utica shale deposits to mid- and south-Atlantic regions.
Although the pipeline is more than 90% complete, a three-judge Fourth Circuit panel keeps blocking permits needed to finish it.
Its latest ruling vacates a permit issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection under the Clean Water Act.
This permitting authority is intended to give states input into projects, though it has been abused by some such as New York to block gas pipelines. Here the Fourth Circuit panel is abusing its power to usurp state authority.
As is its wont, the panel nitpicked West Virginia’s environmental review.
Although the state imposed 31 conditions on the permit “to protect aquatic life and resources, reduce turbidity, avoid unauthorized discharges, preserve stream stability, ensure proper monitoring, and mitigate other harms,” the panel quibbled that a few other requirements weren’t included.
The panel thus ruled West Virginia’s permit arbitrary and capricious.
“It is infuriating to see the same 4th Circuit Court panel deal yet another setback for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project and once again side with activists who seem hell-bent on killing any fossil energy that will make our country energy independent and secure,” Mr. Manchin said.
He’s right, but he could have seen this coming. The Senator could have conditioned his vote for the IRA on Congress first passing permitting reforms.
Once the White House and Democratic leaders got what they wanted, they let permitting reform fall by the wayside.
Mr. Manchin’s proposed permitting reform would have exempted Mountain Valley Pipeline permits from judicial review and reduced pipeline litigation.
Maybe the Senator will now get behind the House energy bill, which limits the discretion of judges and states to block Clean Water Act permits.
It may be the only way to get the Mountain Valley Pipeline built.
Read more at WSJ
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