news forest service promises its own environmental impact statement on mountain valley pipeline

Forest Service promises its own environmental impact statement on Mountain Valley Pipeline

A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement can be expected from the United States Forest Service (USFS) before a final statement next summer on the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The USFS’s statement is necessary after the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated the 2017 and 2021 Forest Service Records of Decisions, and would address the proposed crossing of 3.5 miles on the Jefferson National Forest by the pipeline. According to a press release, the proposed pipeline project “is inconsistent with Land Management Plan standards without an amendment.”

News of the statement from the USFS comes after President Joe Biden endorsed West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s Energy Security and Independence Act which seeks to weaken environmental protections and fast-track the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Biden also announced new initiatives to accelerate climate action at COP27.

“How is the public supposed to trust that the U.S. Forest Service and President Biden will do their duty to protect them when Biden is supporting legislation that builds unnecessary fossil fuel pipelines and weakens our environmental protections during a climate emergency?” Mountain Valley Watch Coordinator and frontline MVP organizer Russell Chisholm said in the press release. “Their intentions match the boondoggle that the Mountain Valley Pipeline has been for nearly a decade. Our lives are on the line, so we are going to continue to rally together to pressure Congress, the Biden administration and federal agencies to ensure the just, green future we deserve — free of new, needless fossil fuel projects and inadequate protections.”

According to pipeline records, 56 percent of the project is complete, and authorities claim it will be complete by the end of 2023.

“Manchin calls this bill ‘permitting reform’ when in reality he is trying to hasten the process to complete the MVP, exempting it from judicial review and environmental laws. This is an egregious violation of our rights and his duty as an elected official,” Chisholm said.

He added the pipeline’s completion is “extremely unlikely” given the numerous delays, budget increases, national opposition and the latest news from USFS.

“The company should recognize this reality and put an immediate stop to their efforts to destroy our mountains and homes for the sake of their own financial gain during a climate catastrophe,” Chisholm said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.