The Mountain Valley Pipeline will span 303 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina. This 2018 file photo shows a section of fallen trees on a ridge near homes along the pipeline’s route in Lindside, W.Va.

Steve Helber/AP

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Steve Helber/AP

The Mountain Valley Pipeline will span 303 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina. This 2018 file photo shows a section of fallen trees on a ridge near homes along the pipeline’s route in Lindside, W.Va.

Steve Helber/AP

The controversial natural gas pipeline has been stalled by court challenges — but now the Mountain Valley pipeline has new momentum, thanks to a debt ceiling deal that gives the project broad acceptance.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act mandates expediting approval of all permits needed to complete the pipeline, which has been opposed by climate and conservation groups as well as local residents along its way. Proponents of the plan say it would boost US energy infrastructure and jobs in Appalachia and the Southeast.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline will span 303 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina. But it will cut through the Jefferson National Forest and cross hundreds of waterways and wetlands – and legal battles have held up those critical sections of the pipeline stalled for years.

In an extraordinary move, the federal measure would also vacate lawsuits against the pipeline project and send any new appeals to the D.C. Circuit instead of the Fourth Circuit, which has territorial jurisdiction and has blocked many permits.

Here’s a quick recap of where things stand with the pipeline:

Approval of the pipeline will fulfill Biden’s promise to Manchin

fiscal responsibility act devotes fewer pages to the debt ceiling than to the pipeline, a longtime cause for Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — who has a key vote in a divided Senate — and Republicans from his state.

Manchin gets three times as much money from pipeline companies as any other member of Congress, According to Open Secrets,

Last year, Manchin secured a promise from the Biden administration to expedite completion of the pipeline in exchange for support for President Biden’s climate spending bill.

Equitrans Midstream Corporation, which is managing the development of the pipeline and will operate it, recently told shareholders It is likely that all permits will be approved and the pipeline will be ready for operation by the end of 2023 with a total cost of some $6.6 billion.

manchin says line pipe It also means big money for his state.

He said, “I’m told it costs the state of West Virginia about $40 million a year in tax revenue.” West Virginia Public Broadcasting, “And approximately $300 million in revenue per year to royalty owners.”

The Act changes the legal jurisdiction for the approval of the court

when manchin brokered 2022 deal with the White House, his office said it plans to assign “D.C. Circuit jurisdiction over any further litigation” rather than to the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., where judges have repeatedly ruled against the pipeline. Is.

The debt ceiling deal would complete that plan. The act states, “No court shall have jurisdiction to review any action taken by the Secretary of the Army, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior,” or any state agency, if the action Allows construction and operation of a pipeline at its authorized or full capacity.

The law also states that the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit “shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over any claim alleging the invalidity of this section or that the action is outside the scope of the authority conferred by this section.”

Rep. Garrett Graves of Louisiana, who led Republican talks with the White House on the debt ceiling, called the deal a victory for the GOP, saying Democrats are now on record “supporting a conventional energy project that removes the hands of the judiciary or binds,” according to Washington PostCiting a conference call with reporters.

Climate groups say the pipeline isn’t needed and is harmful

By approving the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Congress would declare that “the national interest requires the timely completion of the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

The American Exploration and Production Council, a lobbying group for oil and gas producers, hailed the deal, CEO Anne Bradbury said in an email to NPR, by promising changes to the pipeline approval and permitting system, a bureaucratic process more Will be organized.

But Natural Resources Defense Council disagrees, saying the new deal would remove important avenues for legal and environmental review. It also says that most official statements about the pipeline are false – despite claims by Manchin and others, the group says the pipeline is not needed and still faces significant legal hurdles.

League of Conservation voters are also against including the pipeline in the debt deal. In an email to NPR, the group’s senior vice president of government affairs, Tiernan Sittenfeld, said that by forcing approval of the pipeline, the loan deal “locks in decades of climate pollution, threatens water quality, and West Virginia , puts communities in Virginia at risk.” , and North Carolina, especially low-income, elderly, Indigenous and Black communities.”

Debt deal has critics left and right

Some of the most conservative House members are angry with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the debt ceiling deal, saying it makes too many concessions to Democrats and doesn’t go far enough toward Republican goals.

Some progressive Democrats are also unhappy, saying the Biden administration is not keeping its promises to support clean energy instead of fossil fuels, as well as allowing cuts or restrictions on food programs and other aid for vulnerable Americans. Is.

Critics are also asking why the House is considering a debt deal law that runs to 99 pages, giving so much space to other matters such as restarting the federal permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Asked about those concerns, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young said Tuesday, “I’ve worked in a number of divided government positions. I think this is where you would expect bipartisan agreement. It’s just is reality.”