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Virginia releases Mountain Valley Pipeline to resume construction

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Virginia releases Mountain Valley Pipeline to resume construction

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality told Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC that it could resume its work in two of three areas where the developer of the $3.7 billion natural gas pipeline had agreed to temporarily suspend work.

The Virginia agency said in an update published on its website that it had completed an inspection of soil erosion and sediment controls, and on July 3 released the two areas from suspension.

Mountain Valley agreed with the state to temporarily suspend work June 29 based on issues found during agency inspections, which came after complaints about erosion on pipeline construction sites. The developer said that the problems resulted from a large amount of rain in Virginia and that it would focus on erosion controls. The 2-Bcf/d gas pipeline project would run about 300 miles from West Virginia production areas to pipeline connections in Virginia. Mountain Valley is a joint venture of EQT Corp.'s EQT Midstream Partners LP, NextEra Energy Inc., WGL Midstream Inc., Con Edison Transmission Inc. and RGC Midstream LLC.

Environmental group Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an opponent of the pipeline, called it "shameful" that the agency lifted the suspension a few days after it went into place. "Was this really enough time to review all threats to our water?" the group said in a July 5 tweet.

Mountain Valley was not immediately available for comment.

On June 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit granted environmental groups' motion for a stay of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' verification of a Clean Water Act permit for the pipeline. The groups had argued that the permit's "one-size-fits-all approach" is illegal and could cause problems for the environment.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project in October 2017. (FERC docket CP16-10)