US court voids federal permit for natgas WV-VA Mountain Valley pipe

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Jan 25 (Reuters) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Tuesday overturned federal approvals for Equitrans Midstream Corp’s $6.2 billion Mountain Valley gas pipeline (ETRN.N) in progress of construction between West Virginia and Virginia.

The court ruling was the latest setback for the pipeline, which was already years behind schedule and billions over budget.

Specifically, the court reversed the record of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management decisions authorizing the pipe to run approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) through the Jefferson National Forest, and returned the dealing with agencies.

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In an email, Equitrans said, “We are thoroughly reviewing the court’s decision regarding (Mountain Valley’s) traversal permit for the Jefferson National Forest and will quickly assess the project’s next steps and timing considerations.”

In the past, Equitrans has said it expects the project to enter service in the summer of 2022.

Mountain Valley is one of several U.S. pipelines held up by regulatory and legal battles with environmental and local groups that have run into issues with federal permits issued under President Donald Trump’s administration. Read more

When construction on Mountain Valley began in February 2018, Equitrans estimated the 303-mile (488 km), 2.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) project would cost about $3.5 billion and go into effect. service by the end of 2018.

“Today’s decision makes it highly unlikely that this dirty, dangerous and needlessly fractured gas pipeline will ever be completed,” said Kelly Sheehan, senior director of energy campaigns at the Sierra Club, who along with other environmental groups filed the last complaint.

Equitrans, which has a roughly 47.8% stake in Mountain Valley and will operate the pipe, said it had funded about $2.4 billion of the project as of Sept. 30.

The Mountain Valley business is owned by units of Equitrans, NextEra Energy Inc (NEE.N), Consolidated Edison Inc (ED.N), AltaGas Ltd (ALA.TO) and RGC Resources Inc (RGCO.O).

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Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Paul Simao and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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