WV County Court Judge Orders MVP to Stop Work at River Crossing

On again, off again, on again, off again. Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), EQT Midstream’s 303-mile pipeline from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, has had its share of ups and downs. A myriad of lawsuits have been filed against the project. Wacky radicals took to sitting in trees and poles to try and stop it. Most of the illegal protests and lawsuits only served to slow down the project, not stop it. But then a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club (and a few other colluding Big Green groups) yielded fruit in July when a federal court pulled permits for 3.5 miles of the pipeline where it runs through Jefferson National Forest (see Court Cancels Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe on Fed Land). Based on that court action, in early August the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told MVP to stop work everywhere, on all 303 miles (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). FERC’s stop-work order resulted in thousands of layoffs (thank you, jobs-destroying Sierra Club). A few weeks later, FERC reversed itself and allowed work to restart everywhere, except for the 3.5 miles in JNF (see FERC Lifts Mountain Valley Pipe Stop-Work Order, Rehiring). And now, here we go again. This time a county judge ordered MVP to stop work at the Greenbrier River. Yes, it’s just one isolated location and the stoppage is “temporary”–at least until the next hearing on Oct. 23. But given the way antis have leveraged such minor incidents in the past into larger work stoppages, we’re always weary when it happens. Here’s the latest in the MVP soap opera…
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Antis Convince Libertarian Group to Oppose Mountain Valley Pipe

We have to confess we have a lot in common, philosophically, with Libertarians. We like the philosophy of live and let live–as long as what you do (or what I do) doesn’t hurt the other person, nobody has a right to stop you (or me) from doing it. But the Libertarian philosophy does have its quirks–things we don’t agree with. Sometimes wacky. Like support for legalizing pot smoking. Can you imagine a bunch of potheads driving down our roads? We don’t care if they want to stone themselves into oblivion in the privacy of their own homes–but we do have public safety concerns. A fine line/balance between the public good and private freedom. Here’s another case of public good vs. private freedom: pipelines. We’ve always had a tough time with the use of eminent domain for pipelines. But in the end, the greater public good is served by running pipelines, and if there’s one or two landowners here and there who refuse to deal, eminent domain is regrettably, sometimes necessary. As a last resort. The Niskanen Center, a “right-leaning” Libertarian think tank, has just entered the pipeline debate by filing a “friend of the court” brief with U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, siding with radical anti-fossil fuelers against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Niskanen Center is understandably concerned about landowners’ property rights being infringed. Unfortunately, they’ve allowed themselves to be used by antis, people whose political philosophy is closer to Mao Tse Tung (Communist) than it is to freedom for everyone. How could the Niskanen Center be so easily duped? We think we know. They believe in the fairy tale of man-made global warming, which appears to color their view of freedom. If they can fall for that one, they’ll fall for anything…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Suspends Construction, Prepares for Florence

Not all that long ago (early August) the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shut down all work on the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which runs from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). Then FERC changed its mind, and told MVP it could restart work, which happened two weeks ago (see FERC Lifts Mountain Valley Pipe Stop-Work Order, Rehiring). Now work has stopped again–at least in Virginia–but not because of FERC or governmental intervention. MVP has voluntarily stopped building in Virginia and instead is working to prepare MVP construction sites for impacts from Hurricane Florence. MVP issued the following statement on Tuesday: “We are taking all possible precautions in Virginia to ensure the safety of our crews and communities, as well as to protect and maintain erosion and sediment controls along MVP’s right-of-way.” A wise precaution in the face of what is sure to be a rough few days this weekend. Here’s the specific actions MVP (being built by EQT Midstream) is taking to prepare for the storm…
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2 New Protesters Take to Trees in Va. to Stop Mountain Valley Pipe

Tree sitters protest the Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline, Sept. 5, 2018 (Photo courtesy Lauren Bowman)

We thought we had seen the last of Big Green protesters with names like “Ink,” “Sprout,” “Red,” “Nutty,” “Fern” and “Decard” illegally sitting in the tops of trees (or on poles) in Virginia as a tactic to prevent Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from cutting trees along the path of the pipeline. Nope. We have two more: “Lauren” and “Nettle.” Two youngsters (early 20s) have built themselves a make-shift tree house in Montgomery County, VA.–in the path of trees that are due to be cut down for MVP. Draping a banner that says, “No Prisons, No Pipelines” (whatever that means), the two nutjobs say they pick and choose which laws they want to obey. Which is called anarchy. But that’s their philosophy. They don’t agree with the law that says EQT Midstream has the right to build MVP, so they’re illegally attempting to stop it. As near as we can tell, they’ll have a long wait. Due to federal laws protecting bats and other so-called endangered species, MVP can’t cut those trees until November. At least that’s our understanding. At any rate, we now have two more protesters who will need to be starved or otherwise forced out the trees. When that finally happens (as it will), the police need to send a bill for their services to the protesters, not MVP…
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EQT People: Who Stays with Mom & Who Goes with Dad After Co Split

It’s an amicable divorce, the split of EQT into upstream (drilling) and midstream (pipelines). But it’s still a divorce, and the parents have to decide which kids will go or stay with which company. The “kids” in this case are the top managers, the executives. And we have the list. After EQT announced its plan to buy/merge in Rice Energy last year, the company got pushback from a couple of so-called activist investors (i.e. corporate raiders). One raider, Jana Partners, tried its best to stop the EQT/Rice deal outright (see Proxy Fight: Jana Partners, Atlas Tries to Stop EQT/Rice Deal). Jana slithered away after the merger happened. However, a second raider, D.E. Shaw, supported the merger but lobbied hard that once the merger is complete, the company should split itself into two companies: upstream (drilling) and midstream (pipelines). Shaw’s pressure made EQT tap dance to their tune (see Under Pressure, EQT Moves Up Timeline to Explore Splitting Co.). True to their word, once Rice was merged in, EQT then added a couple of new board members and set about exploring how to separate the company into two companies. The theory is that by separating, each company can focus on what it does best (drilling or pipelines), meaning each separately will have a higher valuation/stock price than the two combined. That is, “the sum of the parts” is worth more than the whole. In February the company decided it will, indeed, split (see EQT Pulls Trigger to Split Company in Two: Drilling & Pipelines). Yesterday EQT released the list of which top execs will go, and which will stay, with upstream and midstream…
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MVP 2nd Big Win This Wk – 4th Circuit Lifts Stay of Water Permit

As we reported yesterday, EQT Midstream’s Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) got some excellent news–that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had lifted a stop-work order on the project (see FERC Lifts Mountain Valley Pipe Stop-Work Order, Rehiring). However, two clouds remain over the project, both created by the Fourth District U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in response to lawsuits from the Sierra Club. One of those clouds is from the Fourth Circuit overturning permits issued by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that allows MVP to cross 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see Court Cancels Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe on Fed Land). EQT is working on resolving the issue so that USFS and BLM can reissue permits that will pass muster with the court. The other cloud appeared when the Sierra Club convinced the Fourth Circuit to suspend a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that allows MVP to construct the pipeline across streams and rivers in the West Virginia. The Clubbers got the court to suspend stream and river crossings based on a technicality–that MVP could not, in the case of four river crossings, get the work done within the 72 hour period stipulated by the permit. Therefore the court suspended work at all 591 stream/river crossings the pipeline traverses in WV (see Sierra Club Succeeds in Delaying MVP Project in WV via Court Order). In early July, the Army Corps reworked and reinstated the permit as it applies to the four river crossings in question (see Army Corps Engrs Reinstates MVP Permits for 4 WV River Crossings). The good news is that the Fourth Circuit has granted a motion by the Army Corps to reinstate its permits for all stream/river crossings for MVP. Sunlight is breaking through!…
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Fayette County, WV Loses Court Case to Block MVP Compressor Stn

Sometimes counties (and local towns) try to seize power that’s not theirs constitutionally. Particularly when they’re led by liberal Democrats who like to arbitrarily make up their own oil and gas regulations. Such is the case in Fayette County, WV. Most oil and gas regulation is done at the state level–it is a state function. Unless it’s a pipeline that crosses several states. Those projects are regulated at the federal level, to protect citizens in neighboring states from arbitrary and capricious actions (like those New York is engaged in). Counties don’t get to decide whether or not to allow an injection well, or a pipeline. Yet the lib Dems in Fayette believe they can make those decisions. And now, for the second time in two years, a federal court has slapped them down. Two time losers. In August 2017, Fayette County lost a federal court case to block injection wells in the county (see Fayette County, WV Loses Appeal to Block Injection Well). On Wednesday, the three lib Dem commissioners of Fayette lost a second court case–this one an attempt to block a Mountain Valley Pipeline compressor station. Both lawsuits, last year and this year, were aimed at stopping EQT projects…
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FERC Lifts Mountain Valley Pipe Stop-Work Order, Rehiring

Some good news to lighten your Thursday. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order yesterday allowing Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to restart work on virtually all of the 303-mile project–everywhere but 28.5 miles in and around the pipeline’s path through Jefferson National Forest (about 9% of the total). On August 3, FERC told MVP to stop all construction, prompted by an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacating permits issued for the project as it crosses 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). Two weeks later FERC partially lifted the stop-work order, allowing MVP to work on 77 of its 303 miles–about 25% (see FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’). Because of the stop-work order, MVP had to lay off nearly half of the 6,000 workers actively working on the project. A serious blow. With this restart, MVP says they will bring back “a significant amount of workers” who had been laid off. In typical, predictable fashion, both of the Democrat FERC commissioners, Cheryl LaFleur and Dick Glick, said they don’t want construction to resume on the project…
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Dominion Buying a Piece of Competitive Mountain Valley Pipeline

Here’s some dots that we’ve not seen anyone else connect. There are two competing pipeline projects that generally run along the same route to shuttle Marcellus/Utica gas to the southeastern U.S. One project is EQT Midstream’s Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which runs 303 miles from West Virginia into southern Virginia. MVP is facing a court case that’s idled three-fourths of the project, leading to a layoff of “thousands” of workers (see FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’). The other project is Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a 600+ mile pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, almost to the border with South Carolina. ACP is currently idled because of a similar court case (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline). Both EQT and Dominion believe the court order and FERC’s directive is only a temporary setback. Both believe their projects will be completed sometime next year. Here’s where it gets interesting. Although MVP has not officially filed with FERC (yet), they do plan to expand from the current termination point in Pittsylvania County, VA another 70 miles into North Carolina (see Mountain Valley Pipeline Launches Plan to Expand 70 Miles into NC). That new portion of MVP is called the Southgate project. Last week PSNC Energy, based in North Carolina, purchased a 30% share in the MVP Southgate project. PSNC is a subsidiary of South Carolina-based SCANA Corp. Sound familiar? Dominion Energy is right now in the process of closing a deal to buy/merge in SCANA Corp. (see FERC Approves Dominion Energy/SCANA Merger – Deal Still Alive). Ergo, Dominion is buying a 30% stake in its primary competitor to flow Marcellus/Utica gas south…
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Advisory Panel Pressures Va. Gov. to Block 2 “Racist” Pipelines

Here we go again. More talk from desperate liberals who irrationally hate fossil fuels, claiming the location of two pipelines in Virginia is “racist.” You didn’t know that an inert metal tube could be racist, did you? Yeah, it’s stupid and silly and beyond words–but there you have it. Our schools are doing such a poor job of educating our citizens, they grow up to believe in wild fairy tales and declare anyone (or anything) that is not their particular skin color must be racist. In Virginia, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, is recommending to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam that he should illegally (against federal law) rescind federal Clean Water Act permits that allow both the $6.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Dominion Energy) and $3.7 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline (EQT Midstream) from crossing the state. The Advisory Council’s tortured thinking is that the pipeline runs through a few poor/black communities–so it MUST be racist. No mention of the fact that such pipelines actually benefit communities and individuals economically. Pipelines get no credit for economically benefiting nearby communities–they only get dinged for flowing an evil fossil fuel that supposedly causes man-made global warming…
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Sierra Club Forces Thousands of Pipeline Workers Out of Work

It dawned on us, reading yet another story about how EQT/Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) has laid off around half of the MVP workforce, perhaps up to 3,000 people (see FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’), that the headlines/stories have it wrong. We need to view this situation more accurately–for what it is. The Sierra Club and a few other radical Big Green groups who brought the lawsuit against MVP are the ones who bear responsibility for putting ~3,000 pipeline workers out of work. And that’s just for one project! Dads have been forced into the unemployment line. Workers’ children go to bed hungry at night. There is a rise in hopelessness. The Sierra Club is responsible for DESTROYING JOBS. Ever notice that the Sierra Club never actually creates any jobs (except for a handful of high-priced lawyers)? They are a jobs-destroying organization and it’s time for Americans to wake up and understand what’s really going on. Wake up and understand the damage being caused by the Sierra Club–to families, to companies, to entire communities…
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FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has had a change of heart–sort of–with respect to their stop-work order issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). We previously told you that on August 3, FERC told MVP to stop all construction prompted by an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacating permits issued for the project as it crosses 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). In a letter to FERC this past Tuesday, MVP asked FERC to reconsider and allow them to restart construction for at least part of the pipeline. FERC agreed and partially lifted the stop-work order a day later, on Wednesday. The new order allows MVP to work on the project for 77 of its 303 miles–about 25%. However, in a sad announcement, MVP said because so much of the project remains (for now) idled, it is laying off 50% of the workers who had been working on it. It’s estimated that around 6,000 people are employed directly or indirectly on the project, which means “thousands” (perhaps as many as 3,000 people) are now out of work–thanks to the Sierra Club and their lawsuit. Hey, how many jobs has the Sierra Club created? What’s that? NONE?! And how many jobs has the Sierra Club destroyed? We’d estimate it to be in the tens of thousands. MVP also announced that due to the ongoing work stoppage and delays, the project completion and in-service date has now slipped to the end of next year–an additional nine months. It’s a sad day indeed…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Asks FERC to Lift Stop Work Order

EQT Midstream and its partners in the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project are trying to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to lighten up and reconsider lifting most of a stop-work order for the entire 303-mile pipeline project. In a 7-page letter to FERC yesterday, Matthew Eggerding, EQT Midstream’s top lawyer, outlined his company’s case for allowing them to restart work on most of the pipeline. Two weeks ago FERC ordered MVP to shut down all construction for the entire project following a court case that overturned permits for a tiny, 3.5-mile section of the project as it runs through the Jefferson National Forest (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). In delivering its stop-work order, FERC said while it expects the two federal agencies involved (U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) to quickly rework and reissue the permits overturned by the court, they (FERC) don’t know when that will happen and so in the meantime, just shut it all down. MVP is asking them to reconsider. What happens if FERC doesn’t reconsider and MVP stays shut down until the court gives the OK for reissued permits? According to EQT’s incoming CEO Rob McNally, “that would certainly put the first-quarter [2019] timing in jeopardy.” Meaning all bets are off…
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Is MVP Still Under Construction Following FERC Stop-Work Order?

We spotted something that seemed a bit odd to us. In a story about pipelines in WV and the challenges they face, EQT said they continue to engage in some construction activities for Mountain Valley Pipeline, even though the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently ordered them to stop all construction on the project until further notice (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). At least, that’s what EQT appears to be saying. Background: The radical Sierra Club convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn permits issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that allows EQT Midstream’s 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see Court Cancels Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe on Fed Land). Even though 3.5 miles is like 1% of the entire MVP project, FERC told MVP to “cease immediately” *all* construction activities along the *entire length* of the pipeline, until the permit issue for Jefferson National Forest is resolved. And yet, an EQT spokesperson told a WV reporter, “Various construction activities have been happening along the route, include construction of compression facilities, tree felling, trenching, welding, stringing of pipe.” Did she mean those things happened *until* FERC told them to stop? Or they’ve continued to happen *after* FERC told them to stop? We report, you decide…
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Franklin County, VA Landowners Lose Round #1 to Stop MV Pipe

A federal judge turned down a request by six Franklin County, VA landowners to shut down construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in their area. The six claim that work being done by MVP is leading to soil erosion–that storm water runoff has resulted in mountains of mud ending up on their property. The legal argument is “trespass” for failing to do the work correctly, thereby leading to an intrusion on their property. The judge denied the request. However, the judge did not toss out the entire lawsuit–only a request for a preliminary injunction. The lawsuit itself will continue. Not that it makes much of a difference. All work on MVP is currently stopped anyway (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). There’s no need for a preliminary injunction if there’s no work happening. Here’s the story of six ticked-off landowners not happy with how MVP is doing work in their area…
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FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA

The radical Sierra Club can claim a new temporary victory in its war to stop a major natural gas pipeline. We previously told you the Clubbers, who use money from donors to weaponize our own court system against us, convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn permits issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that allows EQT Midstream’s 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see Court Cancels Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe on Fed Land). The court says USFS and BLM didn’t come to the right conclusion about sedimentation and erosion impacts of MVP. The judges (who don’t know a thing about these issues) say USFS and BLM’s contention that impacts can be adequately mitigated is in error. Because the project is stopped at that one tiny 3.5-mile location, on Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a stop work order for the entire project. At least for now. In the stop work order, FERC indicates they think the USFS and BLM will soon reissue the permits overturned by the Fourth Circuit, and when that happens, work on the rest of the project will resume. But FERC can’t predict when that will happen, so in the meantime, all work (except to stabilize certain areas to protect against erosion) must stop. What gripes us is that Sierra Club radicals were able to shut down an entire project by concentrating on a technicality at one, small point. What a disgusting, anti-American organization. MVP issued a statement this morning to say the the pipeline will get built, and will likely keep its schedule of going online in the first quarter of 2019…
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