A North Carolina regulatory agency on Aug. 11 denied a water quality certification request for the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s (MVP) Southgate project, citing uncertainty that the MVP Mainline project will be completed.

The state’s Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources said in a statement that work on the extension could lead to unnecessary water quality impacts and environment issues in North Carolina. The agency also opposed additional natural gas infrastructure in the state.

“This has always been an unnecessary project that poses unnecessary risks to our environment and, given the uncertain future of the MVP Mainline, North Carolinians should not be exposed to the risk of another incomplete pipeline project,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the department.

The 75-mi. interstate Southgate project was announced in April 2018. The extension to the Mountain Valley Pipeline is designed to start in Pittsylvania County, Va., and reach to delivery points in Rockingham and Alamance counties, N.C. Total capacity for the pipeline, operated by EQM Midstream Partners, is 900 MMcf/d.

Under terms of the permits issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Southgate could not proceed until the Mountain Valley Pipeline mainline had all of its permits approved.

“Projects like this slow down the state’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases under North Carolina’s Clean Energy Plan and our efforts to address climate change under Executive Order 80,” Regan said. “We should invest in clean, renewable energy sources and the economic benefits of energy innovation.”

The $5.4 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline is expected to be completed in early 2021 but has run into regulatory issues that have slowed its progress. Construction is complete on more than 90% of the 303-mile pipeline’s route. It is designed to carry up to 2 billion cf/d of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets.