Mountain Valley’s race to open sets up test for regulators

By Carlos Anchondo | 05/06/2024 06:54 AM EDT

Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC must still complete several tasks meant to ensure the project’s safe operation.

Mountain Valley pipeline construction in Bent Mountain, Virginia.

Mountain Valley pipeline construction is pictured last year in Bent Mountain, Virginia. Mike Soraghan/POLITICO's E&E News

Developers of the Mountain Valley pipeline plan to finish construction work by May 31, but it’s unclear whether federal regulators will grant permission by then to place the project into service.

The situation is another flashpoint around fossil fuels for the Biden administration, which agreed to include the contentious natural gas project in a debt ceiling deal with Congress last year. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) fought to include language that expedited completion of the 303-mile pipeline in the bill, which Biden signed into law in June.

Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC — a joint venture of energy companies — still needs to complete multiple tasks meant to ensure safe operation of the pipeline. They were outlined in an agreement struck last year with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).


The Transportation Department agency and Equitrans Midstream, the lead developer of the pipeline, reached that agreement in October after PHMSA raised safety concerns about the project. Under the deal, Equitrans said it would take certain “corrective measures” to resolve concerns around pipe installation and integrity, ranging from creating a remedial work plan to evaluating procedures for assessing pipe damage.