Proposed Energy Bill/Mountain Valley Pipeline Fact Sheet

Proposed Energy Permitting Bill Provisions (aka “Manchin’s Dirty Deal”)

(Source: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV)

  • Designate and prioritize projects of strategic national importance.
  • Direct the President to designate and periodically update a list of at least 25 high-priority energy infrastructure projects and prioritize permitting for these projects.
  • Require a balanced list of project types, including: critical minerals, nuclear, hydrogen, fossil fuels, electric transmission, renewables, and carbon capture, sequestration, storage, and removal.
  • Criteria for selecting designated projects includes: reducing consumer energy costs, improving energy reliability, decarbonization potential, and promoting energy trade with our allies.

Set maximum timelines for permitting reviews, including two years for NEPA reviews for major projects and one year for lower-impact projects.

  • Require a single inter-agency environmental review document and concurrent agency review processes.
  • Designate a lead agency to coordinate inter-agency review.
  • Expand eligibility for the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) streamlining and transparency programs to ensure smaller energy projects, critical minerals and mining, and other key programs can benefit from FPISC. Provide FPISC funds to accelerate permitting.
  • Improve the process for developing categorical exclusions under NEPA.

Improve Section 401 of the Clean Water Act by incorporating improvements from both the Trump and Biden administrations.

  • Require one of four final actions within one year of certification requests: grant, grant with conditions, deny, or waive certification.
  • Clarify that the basis of review is water quality impacts from the permitted activity, based on federal, State, and Tribal standards.
  • Require certification applications to include available information on potential water quality impacts.
  • Prohibit State or Tribal agencies from requesting project applicants to withdraw applications to stop/pause/restart the certification clock.
  • Require States and Tribes to publish clear requirements for water quality certification requests, or else default to federal requirements.

Address excessive litigation delays.

  • Set statute of limitations for court challenges.
  • Require that if a federal court remands or vacates a permit for energy infrastructure, the court must set and enforce a reasonable schedule and deadline, not to exceed 180 days, for the agency to act on remand.
  • Require random assignment of judges for all federal circuit courts.

Clarify Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jurisdiction regarding the regulation of interstate hydrogen pipeline, storage, import, and export facilities.

Enhance federal government permitting authority for interstate electric transmission facilities that have been determined by the Secretary of Energy to be in the national interest.

  • Replace DOE’s national interest electric transmission corridor process with a national interest determination by the Secretary of Energy that allows FERC to issue a construction permit.
  • Require FERC to ensure costs for transmission projects are allocated to customers that benefit.
  • Allow FERC to approve payments from utilities to jurisdictions impacted by a transmission project.

Complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Require the relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and give the DC Circuit jurisdiction over any further litigation.

 

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) Facts and Figures:

(Sources: The Appalachian Voice, Mountain Valley Watch, Center for Biological Diversity)

Where: 303 miles through West Virginia and Virginia
Diameter: 42 inches
Owner: Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC. Equitrans Midstream Corp. is the lead developer.
Developers’ Projected Cost and Timeline in 2014: Up to $3.5 billion, complete by late 2019
Developers’ Projected Cost and Timeline as of Spring 2021: Up to $6.2 billion, complete by summer of 2022
Proposed “Southgate” extension: In 2018, MVP announced plans to extend the mainline 70-miles from Virginia into North Carolina. The two projects are inextricably tied together, despite going through separate approval processes.

MVP Impacts:

  • Environmental justice: The MVP would disproportionately impact low-income communities, elderly residents and Indigenous sites.
  • Environmental damage: Developers have accrued hundreds of water quality violations and polluted miles of streams and important freshwater habitat. Potential violations stacked up even when stop-work orders stalled construction for months.
  • Climate impacts: Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and exacerbates climate change. Building this pipeline and others would lock the U.S. into decades of dirty energy
  • Destruction of natural beauty: MVP would leave a 50-foot-wide strip of permanently cleared land scarring viewsheds along the entire route, including along the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway. It would also cut through about five miles of the Jefferson National Forest.
  • Explosions: Much of the pipeline is being built on steep, unstable slopes that are susceptible to landslides — which could cause the pipe to rupture. Explosions happened on two separate pipelines in similar terrain in 2018. In April 2020, MVP reported that three sections of laid pipe had shifted due to land movement. MVP’s use of thinner pipe in less-populated areas means the pipe may be more susceptible to the risk of rupture.
  • Eminent domain for private gain: In typical industry-friendly practice, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed MVP to seize people’s land all along the route through eminent domain — even before the developer had secured all required permits and without requiring the company to pay people upfront for their land.