Supreme Court revives Mountain Valley pipeline

By Carlos Anchondo, Pamela King | 07/27/2023 10:55 AM EDT

Justices have paved the way for construction to restart on the natural gas pipeline that helped seal congressional negotiations over the debt ceiling.

The U.S. Supreme Court, as photographed Sept. 2, 2021.

The U.S. Supreme Court. Francis Chung/E&E News

The Supreme Court has accepted a request from the developer of the Mountain Valley pipeline to restart work on the embattled project.

In a short order issued Thursday, the justices granted an emergency application from Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC to toss out two “extraordinary stay orders” issued by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Those orders temporarily froze construction on the natural gas project.

Issued earlier in July, the 4th Circuit orders were immediately panned by proponents of the pipeline, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the states the $6.6 billion project travels through.


Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has pointed to a section of the debt ceiling deal — signed into law in June by President Joe Biden — that paved the way for Mountain Valley to be completed.

The Supreme Court order declined to decide whether or not the provision of the deal was constitutional, even as it allowed construction to go forward.

In addition to ordering agencies to approve the delayed project, the legislation moved jurisdiction over the project from the 4th Circuit to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In the past, the 4th Circuit has struck down multiple approvals for Mountain Valley.

Environmental lawyers had urged the Supreme Court to reject Mountain Valley’s plea, arguing that the 4th Circuit was right to maintain its authority over the pipeline.

The Supreme Court issued the order at the same time that the 4th Circuit heard oral arguments over whether to dismiss litigation against the pipeline.

Reporter Niina H. Farah contributed.