A federal appeals court has once again halted construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline being built through Virginia and West Virginia, despite Congress recently passing legislation ordering all necessary permits to be issued.
The stay issued by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond Monday comes after the law passed by Congress last month — which was part of the bipartisan bill to raise the debt ceiling — also stripped the court of its jurisdiction over the matter.
“The law passed by Congress & signed by POTUS is clear — the 4th Circuit no longer has jurisdiction over MVP’s construction permits,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, a supporter of the project, tweeted Monday about the ruling. “This new order halting construction is unlawful, & regardless of your position on MVP, it should alarm every American when a court ignores the law.
The provision in the debt ceiling package that green-lighted the billion-dollar, 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline — which is 94% complete, but has been mired in a lengthy permitting process for years — had been cheered by West Virginia lawmakers who have touted the project’s expected economic benefits.
But the 4th Circuit has blocked construction of the pipeline on multiple occasions over the years.
The stay of construction issued Monday focuses on a three-mile section of pipeline that cuts through the Jefferson National Forest. Environmentalists say the construction plan will cause erosion that will ruin soil and water quality. The Wilderness Society Organization is challenging a U.S. Forest Service in court.
Environmentalists argue Congress overstepped its authority by enacting the law, saying it violates the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.
But in court papers, lawyers for the pipeline say Congress is within its rights to strip the court from jurisdiction over the matter. They also say that any debate over the law’s constitutionality should be heard not by the 4th Circuit but by an appellate court in Washington, because the law passed by Congress last month spells out that precise scenario.
FOX Business has reached out to Manchin’s office for further comment.
Overall, the pipeline is projected to transport approximately 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from West Virginia to consumers in the Mid- and South Atlantic.
The pipeline is projected to create 2,500 construction jobs, $40 million in new tax revenue for West Virginia, $10 million in new tax revenue for Virginia and up to $250 million in royalties for West Virginia landowners.
Equitrans Midstream Corporation, one of the companies involved in building the pipeline, said in a statement that it is “disappointed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s remarkable decision to grant a one-sentence stay halting all construction in the Jefferson National Forest with no explanation.”
READ THE APPEALS COURT ORDER – APP USERS, CLICK HERE:
“The Court’s decision defies the will and clear intent of a bipartisan Congress and this Administration in passing legislation to expedite completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which was deemed to be in the national interest,” it added, noting that “We are evaluating all legal options, which include filing an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Unless this decision is promptly reversed, it would jeopardize Mountain Valley’s ability to complete construction by year-end 2023.”
Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci and The Associated Press contributed to this report.