Despite a June law that specifically expedites Equitrans Midstream Corp.’s Mountain Valley Pipeline, a federal court halted construction on July 11 of the pipeline in Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest.
Equitrans said the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit bypasses the law and “defies the will and clear intent of a bipartisan Congress” and the Biden administration.
A bipartisan compromise to the debt ceiling impasse earlier this year resulted in legislation that authorizes the 303-mile pipeline “in the national interest.”
The court’s single-sentence decision halts all construction “with no explanation,” the company said in a July 11 press release.
The court’s order reads, “Upon consideration of petitioner’s motion for stay pending appeal, the court grants the motion and stays construction during the pendency of this petition for review.”
Equitrans Midstream Corporation today released a statement related to the July 10, 2023, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit regarding construction in the Jefferson National Forest for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.
“We believe the Court also exceeded its authority, as Congress expressly and plainly removed its jurisdiction,” Equitrans’ statement said. “Further, the fact that the Court issued the stay prior to receiving full briefing from the federal government and Mountain Valley is particularly telling and demonstrates why Congressional intervention was appropriate.”
Equitrans said it is evaluating all of its legal options, including “filing an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“Unless this decision is promptly reversed, it would jeopardize Mountain Valley’s ability to complete construction by year-end 2023," the company said.
In an exclusive interview in June, Equitrans Chairman and CEO Tom Karam said he “felt good” that the legislation would withstand challenges to its constitutionality and that remaining permits would be issued.
However, Karam acknowledged that additional litigation was likely.
“Our opponents are very well financed and sophisticated, and they are not simply going to give up,” he said. “They will continue to challenge us in the courts, and I would think specifically in the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the] D.C. Circuit as it relates to the constitutionality of the act. And we expect to prevail there.”
In June, an appeal was filed by The Wilderness Society against the U.S. Forest Service and Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC.
Shares of the company fell 5.8% in premarket trading following the ruling, Reuters reported.
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