The legal back and forth over construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline continued Friday as a federal court issued a temporary administrative stay barring construction across streams in West Virginia and Virginia.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the temporary administrative stay. The court said the stay will remain in effect until it decides on a previous request for a longer stay.
Conservation groups led by the Sierra Club requested the stay Thursday, citing environmental concerns.
The temporary stay came just a week after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lifted a stop-work order for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a roughly 300-mile natural gas pipeline system traveling from Northwestern West Virginia to Southern Virginia. The pipeline crosses Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Braxton, Webster, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers and Monroe counties in West Virginia.
In its ruling on Oct. 9, the FERC did not allow construction to resume in a 25-mile area encompassing two watersheds containing 3.5 miles of pipeline right-of-way that crosses the Jefferson National Forest.
EQM Midstream Partners is slated to operate the pipeline. Its parent company, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Equitrans Midstream Corp., said in a statement following the FERC’s ruling last week that it agreed to temporarily delay stream and waterbody activities, acknowledging the legal challenge before the 4th Circuit Court.
Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC is a joint venture between EQM Partners LP; NextEra Capital Holdings Inc.; Con Edison Transmission Inc.; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream LLC.
The company has projected that the pipeline will provide up to 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.
Mountain Valley applied to the FERC to approve, construct and own the pipeline in October 2015. Construction began on the pipeline in February 2018.
Mountain Valley Pipeline, in June, said total project work was about 92% complete, but the FERC estimated in its Oct. 9 order that about 16% of the pipeline has not been installed. The Sierra Club has questioned whether Mountain Valley Pipeline has accurately reported how much of the project is complete.
Equitrans had announced in August that Mountain Valley Pipeline was targeting an early 2021 full in-service date for the project and that total project costs could potentially increase 5% over the project’s $5.4 billion budget.