In 2018, construction on the 303-mile fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) began in Virginia and West Virginia. Construction has involved over 500 violations of permit conditions, laws, and regulations, and 75% of the route slices through landslide and earthquake-prone terrain, including sacred Indigenous burial sites, waterways, and the Jefferson National Forest. Frontline communities and Water Protectors have been fighting the harmful, unnecessary pipeline for nearly 10 years, and came extremely close to canceling it.
In June 2023, the MVP mainline was fast-tracked by Congress and the White House, a result of its corrupt inclusion in the nation’s must-pass debt ceiling legislation. The MVP provisions forced the approval of all remaining federal permits, and forbids judicial review of any permits. The provisions did not include fast-tracking the MVP Southgate Extension.
The MVP Southgate Extension is a proposed 73-mile extension of the MVP mainline, from Pittsylvania County, VA into North Carolina’s Rockingham and Alamance Counties that poses a grave danger to working class and farming families, and the entire ecosystem of the Piedmont region. The project would also force a third polluting compressor station to be constructed in a predominantly Black community near Chatham, VA.
The proposed route is highly residential, and large public schools like Alamance Community College are within one-half mile of where the pipe would be laid. In its crossing of 200 streams and tributaries throughout the Dan and Haw River Watersheds, the MVP Southgate Extension would destroy habitats and recreational sites, and pose ongoing threats to water quality for downstream users.
Outraged by this unnecessary, greed-driven threat to our health, land and futures, everyday people have been pushing back against the pipeline by submitting comments, participating in hearings, writing to local newspapers and educating our neighbors.
In 2018, Alamance County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Southgate that raised concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the county’s water quality. Later that year, officials in Stoneville, N.C., also passed a resolution in opposition to the pipeline, citing environmental concerns.
Even the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality agrees that that MVP Southgate is an unneeded risk. In August 2020, the agency denied Southgate’s application for a Clean Water Act permit.
“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 then-DEQ Secretary Micheal Regan in an August 2020 statement. “North Carolina’s clean energy future is not dependent on adding more natural gas infrastructure.”
In 2021, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted to deny the air pollution permit for the Lambert Compressor Station, on the basis of environmental justice concerns. This outcome was a result of tireless grassroots organizing and community members’ advocacy.
Lambert would have been the third compressor station in the majority Black Banister District , and would have increased air emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter 2.5, and formaldehyde — substances known to contribute to respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer.
A July 2019 Applied Economics Clinic report found that PSNC Energy, the Dominion Energy subsidiary that contracted to buy most of the gas that would flow through MVP Southgate, overestimated how much gas they will actually need in the future.
An economic analysis from 2020 indicated that existing gas infrastructure was more than sufficient to meet regional energy demand. Since then, the domestic and regional demand for natural gas has fallen, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
MVP Southgate developers have filed for an extension of their original certificate from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), despite missing necessary authorizations and recently abandoning eminent domain proceedings for the project’s route through NC.
If granted, the FERC certificate would allow Southgate developers to begin condemning private property along the route through eminent domain.
Over 38k individuals urged FERC to deny the certificate, including letters of opposition from Gov. Cooper and 50 NC state legislators.
In their letter to FERC, NC Congresswomen Foushee and Manning said, “Given the vast variety of clean energy alternatives, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s original need determination for the pipeline is woefully outdated. The presence of a natural gas pipeline is an unnecessary threat to our communities’ water sources, while the affected environmental justice communities have also consistently spoken out against the project. Both North Carolina and Virginia regulators rejected renewed permit applications further demonstrating that an extension to the recently expired Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the pipeline would be irresponsible and unjust to Alamance and Rockingham counties.”
Thank you to everyone who signed our petition and submitted comments. FERC's decision should be issued soon.
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