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Mountain Valley Pipeline Faces Another Setback

The U.S. Senate has blocked Senator Joe Manchin’s attempt at changing the energy project permitting process by amending the annual defense policy bill, Argus said on Friday.

The bill failed with a tie vote, at 47-47. Machin was hoping to secure the 60 votes required to break the filibuster. For Machin, it is a significant disappointment and likely ruins any chances that his bill will pass yet this year.

Manchin’s bill sought to alter the rules to allow fast-tracked permits and even automatically issued permits in order to complete the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline. The bill secured just 7 Republican votes.

The Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline project is a pipeline system that would span 303 miles west from West Virginia to southern Virginia, bringing natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale basins to the Mid- and South Atlantic regions. The project has been delayed when a U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this year vacated Mountain Valley’s federal permits, arguing that the gpvernment approvals didn’t consider the impacts of erosion.

Senators Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer agreed to pursue reform on permitting that would “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,” after Joe Manchin did an about-face on the Democrats’ plans to pass legislation that secured hundreds of billions in climate change spending. Manchin eventually agreed to back the bill after initially refusing, handing the Democrats a climate victory.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is said to be languishing at the 90% complete mark, with costs increasing with each delay. The original price tag for the project was estimated at $3.7 billion but has now ballooned to more than $6 billion.

Manchin has thrown his weight behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline to provide West Virginia a way of exporting its natural gas to other markets and boost the state’s economy.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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