Environmental groups criticized the Biden administration after it recently signaled support for a natural gas pipeline project that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has aggressively pushed.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm penned a letter late last week to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) members, arguing that the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project would help boost reliable energy for Americans. The administration’s unexpected endorsement of the 303-mile pipeline earned criticism from environmental groups that have loudly opposed the project.
“Secretary Granholm’s letter is inaccurate,” David Sligh, the conservation director of Wild Virginia, told Fox News Digital in an email. “This destructive project has never been needed and won’t enhance our energy security. It’s not designed to help consumers and it abuses private landowners and our resources. MVP’s investors should quit now and not throw more good money after bad.”
Wild Virginia has challenged the pipeline in court and is among hundreds of climate-focused groups to have advocated in favor of canceling its permits. In August 2022, more than 650 environmental organizations wrote in opposition to a permitting deal that Manchin struck with President Joe Biden that would green-light the MVP project.
Sections of steel pipe for the Mountain Valley Pipeline are pictured on Aug. 31, 2022, in Bent Mountain, Virginia. (Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images)
Manchin has repeatedly pushed for regulators to approve the project and has sought to include carve-outs for it in large spending packages.
“I am concerned to see this support from the Biden administration for a dirty, unnecessary pipeline that would undermine the U.S.’ ability to meet our climate goals and contradict President Biden’s own climate pledges,” said Patrick Grenter, the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign.
“There is nothing natural about the fracked gas that would be transported through the Mountain Valley Pipeline; locking us and our communities into decades of reliance on risky fossil fuels,” Grenter added. “What we should be focusing on is transitioning into clean sustainable energy that would maintain energy reliability and security.”
Equitrans Midstream, a Pennsylvania-based natural gas transmission company, first proposed the West Virginia-to-Virginia pipeline in 2014. The Trump administration issued the original permits for the project in 2017 and reissued permits in early 2021.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images / File)
However, a federal appeals court ruled in January 2022 that the Trump administration failed to properly consider the environmental impact of the project when issuing the permits following a legal challenge from a coalition of environmental groups led by Wild Virginia. And, in another setback, a federal court ruled this month that a state environmental permit was illegal.
Still, Equitrans announced last year that it expected the pipeline to go into service during the second half of 2023. Federal regulators gave the company until 2026 to complete the project.
“Energy infrastructure, like the MVP project, can help ensure the reliable delivery of energy that heats homes and businesses, and powers electric generators that support the reliability of the electric system,” Granholm wrote in her April 21 letter to FERC.
“Natural gas—and the infrastructure, such as MVP, that supports its delivery and use—can play an important role as part of the clean energy transition, particularly with broad advances in and deployment of carbon capture technology facilitated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act,” she continued.