Curtis Tate Published

Mountain Valley Pipeline Builder Declares Construction Complete

Two sections of pipe rest on the ground as a yellow sign warns people of pressure testing for a natural gas pipeline.
Sections of pipe lay above ground at Bent Mountain, Virginia, on Friday, May 10, 2024.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The builder of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has asked federal regulators to give authorization for the natural gas pipeline to begin service on Tuesday.

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday, Equitrans Midstream declared the project “mechanically complete” and in compliance with environmental and safety requirements.

The nearly $8 billion, 303-mile pipeline has been under construction since 2018. 

Equitrans also told FERC it had completed water pressure testing on “all project facilities.”

A section of the pipeline burst during a pressure test on May 1 at Bent Mountain, Virginia.

It remains unclear whether FERC took the test failure into account. A pipeline safety watchdog asked FERC to give the project more scrutiny because of it.

The company has maintained that the incident warrants no safety concerns and demonstrates how the testing reveals problems that need to be corrected.

Residents, community groups, state lawmakers and county commissioners have asked FERC to deny the pipeline’s application for service.

Equitrans told FERC it had satisfied all aspects of a safety agreement it reached in October with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The company cited the demand for the product in requesting quick regulatory approval.

“Multiple shippers have executed agreements to commence transporting volumes using the project facilities beginning the day after the project declares in-service, which further heightens the need for prompt authorization to meet market demands,” its letter said.

Construction of the pipeline was slowed by court challenges until a congressional spending deal last summer removed the regulatory and legal barriers to its completion.

Jessica Sims, Virginia field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, one of the groups that opposes the pipeline, said the people who live near it have unanswered questions about the pipeline’s readiness to begin operating.

“The community is in the dark about important safety and environmental considerations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and FERC, while Mountain Valley Pipeline pressures FERC to prioritize the company’s sales schedule,” she said in an email.