The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted the Mountain Valley Pipeline corporation a three-year extension for the MVP Southgate Project on Dec. 19, moving the required completion date back to June 18, 2026.

Equitrans’ Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 303-mile natural gas line from northern West Virginia to south Virginia, is expected to be completed in first-quarter 2024. MVP Southgate is a planned 75-mile line that would extend the MVP into central North Carolina, further opening up natural gas from the Appalachian Basin to markets in the South.

Both projects have met staunch opposition from environmental groups and some of the residents along the pipeline path. In June 2023, after several court delays, Congress approved all authorizations for the MVP as part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

The same month, the Mountain Valley Pipeline company filed for an extension with FERC for the Southgate Project, citing delays associated with building the MVP.

“We find that good cause exists to grant Mountain Valley the requested extension,” FERC wrote in its ruling on the request. “The Commission has stated that it will, in general, grant extensions of time when a project sponsor demonstrates that good faith efforts to meet a deadline have been thwarted.”

Equitrans Midstream is building the MVP, a joint venture between Equitrans, NextEra Capital and Con Edison Transmission, among others.

“Mountain Valley further argues that it has followed the Commission’s directive in the certificate order to focus on resolving the permitting issues on the mainline system, and that its decision to prioritize those efforts are not evidence of neglect or bad faith regarding its continuing commitment to the Southgate Project,” the commission said in its decision.

Appalachian Voices, an environmental group that opposes the pipeline, was one of several organizations filing motions against the extension, arguing that market demand for gas in the region has slowed, and that the pipeline will hinder North Carolina’s government goal of reducing CO2 emissions 70% by 2030.