A provision in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which arose out of negotiations between the White House and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), aims to expedite the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which stretches over 300 miles from West Virginia to southern Virginia.
“Last summer, I introduced legislation to complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline. I am pleased Speaker McCarthy and his leadership team see the tremendous value in completing the MVP to increase domestic energy production and drive down costs across America and especially in West Virginia,” Manchin said in a statement.
“I am proud to have fought for this critical project and to have secured the bipartisan support necessary to get it across the finish line,” he added.
Under the debt ceiling legislation, federal agencies are directed to authorize outstanding permits for the pipeline. The bill also dictates that no court shall have jurisdiction to review their actions. Any challenges to this provision would be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a shift away from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that has issued a ruling holding up constriction of the pipeline.
The MVP website says total project work for the pipeline was about 94% complete as of spring 2023.
The White House agreed to include the pipeline language in the bill to make good on a commitment to accelerate energy infrastructure permitting as part of an arrangement with Manchin to secure his support for last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, according to The Washington Post. “It was going to move forward with or without this bill,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.
Environmental groups are unhappy with the MVP provision being tucked into the debt ceiling bill.
“The Sierra Club calls on Congress to reject this deal and swiftly pass a clean bill,” Sierra Club executive director Ben Jealous said in a statement. “Any deal that attempts to expedite the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline, that rolls back bedrock environmental protections, and makes life harder for workers and families already struggling is a bad deal for the country.”
The bill is expected to get a full House vote Wednesday evening, and if it passes, the legislation will head to the Senate for approval. But there is some opposition to the MVP provision among lawmakers, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who plans to offer an amendment to remove it, according to his office.
“Senator Kaine is extremely disappointed by the provision of the bill to greenlight the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia, bypassing the normal judicial and administrative review process every other energy project has to go through,” a Kaine spokesperson told The Hill.
“This provision is completely unrelated to the debt ceiling matter,” the spokesperson added. “He plans to file an amendment to remove this harmful Mountain Valley Pipeline provision.”